Best forest trails in San Francisco, California

7,506 Reviews
Explore the most popular forest trails near San Francisco with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of forest trails in San Francisco, California
Top trails (26)
#1 - Lands End Trail
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1917)
Length: 3.4 mi • Est. 1 h 22 m
Lands End Trail explores the historic Sutro Baths and offers brilliant view of the Pacific. A must see for any visitor to San Francisco. This is the wildest, rockiest corner of San Francisco. A corner strewn with shipwrecks and a history of landslides. At the tip of Lands End is Point Lobos, named by the Spanish for its many lobos marinos (sea wolves), as the barks of those sea lions, as they are called today, drifted up from the rocks below. The sea lions have since relocated to the calmer waters of San Francisco Bay. Trails at Lands End offer a cliff-top walk through dark cypress and open grass and 30-mile views up and down the California coast. The craggy headlands that border the Golden Gate have always challenged developers. The rocky exposed bluffs, often windswept and cloaked in fog, have hampered attempts to tame this corner of San Francisco. Despite the terrain, this section of the Coastal Trail was once a railroad bed, and the adjacent street, El Camino del Mark, once extended through Lands End. The two roads led to the Cliff House, Sutro Baths, and Ocean Beach. Landslides eventually closed both routes.Show more
#2 - Land's End Trail via Sutro Baths and Coastal Trail
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(912)
Length: 0.8 mi • Est. 20 m
According to Access Northern California (http://accessnca.org/access-northern-california/explore/explore-detail-view/?site_id=132): At San Francisco's northernwestern tip, this forested, windswept park is perched on steep bluffs overlooking the Golden Gate and Pacific shoreline. On a clear day, its sweeping views take in the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, Point Reyes, and the Farallon Islands, as well as the rocky shore below. The Coastal Trail here follows what's left of the bed of the old railway that Adolph Sutro built in the 1880s to bring day-trippers from downtown to Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. Rail service ended in 1925 after a landslide destroyed a section of track. Begin your visit at the park's western end, Point Lobos Overlook, where you can orient yourself at the visitor center. The visitor center sits directly above the former Sutro Baths and features a museum store, café, and educational and interpretive exhibits highlighting the natural landscape and cultural history of this site. From a promenade with benches that runs along the western edge of the parking lot, take a moment to look down on the ruins of Sutro Baths. Splashed with surf at high tide, the concrete slabs and stairs are all that remain of a grand glass-enclosed bathhouse, with fresh and saltwater pools, that stood here from 1890 to 1966, when it burned down. The difficulty rating for this trail is based on what the experience may be like for manual wheelchair or stroller users. From the northwestern end of the lot, you can follow the Coastal Trail north around Point Lobos for sweeping views of the Golden Gate. Another short hike leaves from the eastern edge of the Merrie Way parking lot, where a wide gravel path follows El Camino del Mar to the West Fort Miley parking lot and USS San Francisco memorial. A piece of the bridge of the Navy's heavy cruiser has been installed here in memory of those who fought and died on the ship in the World War II battle of Guadalcanal. Accessibility: There are at least 7 designated handicapped-accessible spaces in the Merrie Way lot off Pt. Lobos Ave that are firm and have a 2% cross slope or less. There is a wheelchair-accessible bathroom in the Land's End Visitor Center (which is also wheelchair-accessible). In addition, accessible portable units are at the northeast corner of the parking lot for the USS San Francisco memorial, at the end of El Camino. From the plaza and seating area at its entrance, a broad paved trail winds up through a native plant garden that blooms thickly with wildflowers in the spring, including beach strawberry, paintbrush, lupin, buckwheat, and seaside daisies. As you climb, pause to look back at the ocean, Cliff House, and Seal Rocks through the trees; you may see structures of brush and branches piled in the forest below to provide shelter for birds. You soon come to a juncture with a broad, paved trail; follow it to the left. Monterey cypress and pine trees dominate here. Interpretive signs along the trail tell the area's history. After a short distance, you come to a paved, semicircular overlook with spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. When the weather is nice this stretch of trail can be very busy, and many people stop to pose for photos. Access to the remnants of Sutro Baths is along the sidewalk on Point Lobos Ave. and then down a very steep approach with a severe cross slope. Adventurous motorized wheelchair riders have safely navigated this trail but it's advisable to do it with a companion. Across the street from the Point Lobos Overlook, wide and level decomposed-granite paths lead through Sutro Heights, a formally landscaped 18-acre park that was once the grounds of Adolph Sutro's mansion. Continue a short distance to a second overlook, where at low tide you may see remains of the Lyman Stewart and the Frank Buck, two of the many ships that have sunk along this rocky, foggy coast. The orange-and-white striped caisson perched on an offshore rock is the automated Mile Rocks lighthouse. Past this point, the pavement ends and the trail becomes rough and frequently muddy. Adventurous wheelchair riders may want to continue a short distance, but will soon come to a steep section and stairs. Near the California Palace of the Legion of Honor art museum in Lincoln Park, an overlook perched atop Eagles Point offers views of the Marin Headlands, Golden Gate Bridge, and on a clear day even Point Reyes. The hard-packed, quarter-mile dirt trail that leads from El Camino del Mar to the overlook is part of the Coastal Trail. You can follow it past the overlook a few hundred feet to a spot with better views of the Golden Gate Bridge, but just beyond that you come to a flight of stairs.Show more
#3 - California Coastal Trail: Lands End to Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(506)
Length: 4.4 mi • Est. 2 h 13 m
Hike along the Coastal Trail from the Cliff House at Lands End to the Golden Gate Bridge This section of the California Coastal Trail runs from the Cliff House near the Sutro Baths all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge and passes many landmarks including Baker Beach, the Seacliff area, Marshall Beach, and the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. This area of San Francisco is unknown to so many residents, even though it is one of the most beautiful areas in all of the Bay Area. You will walk along trails on the cliffs above the water where you can watch crashing waves, sailboats, and the occasional surfers, all while having perfect views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands across the bay--it's hard to beat. There are several small detours to small beaches along the trail as well, if you care to take a relaxing break. There are several points along the trail where you can leave the trail or turn back to make the hike shorter.Show more
#4 - Presidio Loop Trail
Presidio of San Francisco
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(347)
Length: 6.1 mi • Est. 2 h 27 m
This charming trail offers seclusion, natural wonders, and historic and cultural variety of the Presidio. Stunning views can be found on this trip through forests grasslands, and along coastal bluffs. While the loop can be started in many different spots, this route begins at the parking lot on Pacific Avenue and heads east along the Mountain Lake Trail. You'll soon take a left at Lovers Lane and follow the winding path through the towering eucalyptus trees. The western section of the trip circles the Presidio Golf Course and passes the SF National Cemetery. The Bay Area Trail and Anza Loop circumnavigate the Presidio Golf course.Show more
#5 - Glen Canyon to Twin Peaks
Glen Canyon Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(284)
Length: 3.8 mi • Est. 2 h 1 m
#6 - Golden Gate Park Loop
Golden Gate Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(347)
Length: 6.3 mi • Est. 2 h 33 m
Come explore the wonders of Golden Gate Park! As one of the third most visited parks in the United States, Golden Gate Park is a large urban park featuring a variety of popular attractions. This park offers a variety of hiking trails for the whole family! Stop by the Academy of Sciences, Conservatory of Flowers, or the Botanical Gardens as you make your way around the park. (Note that these attractions have specific hours and require a fee.) Other cool attractions include: the deYoung Museum and Japanese Tea Gardens. Golden Gate Park is also home to a variety of flora and fauna such as the California Live Oak, a tree native to this park. Visitors can find these oaks at the northeastern section of the park. Additionally, Golden Gate Park hosts events year round! So if you're looking for a hike, a picnic area, or a variety of museums and gardens, Golden Gate Park is the place to go!Show more
#7 - Philosopher's Way
John McLaren Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(396)
Length: 2.7 mi • Est. 56 m
Looping around the perimeter of John McLaren Park in southeastern San Francisco, the Philosopher’s Way is a unique trail meant to inspire contemplation. The route is laid out onto existing park trails, but with the addition of fourteen “musing stations”. These stone markers are meant to “highlight the interrelationships between the area’s ecology, geography, and history.”Show more
#8 - Glen Canyon Park
Glen Canyon Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(370)
Length: 1.8 mi • Est. 43 m
Glen Canyon offers incredible spring wildflower displays, dramatic rock (chert) formations, and Islais Creek, one of the few remaining free-flowing creeks in San Francisco. This 60 acres of wilderness, formerly referred to as the San Miguel Hills, not only provides critical habitat for a wide array of wildlife but serves as a relaxing sanctuary from the city’s urban bustle. An extensive network of hiking trails leads through a variety of habitats.Show more
#9 - San Francisco Crosstown Trail
Glen Canyon Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(223)
Length: 17.0 mi • Est. 7 h 58 m
San Francisco's Crosstown Trail is a mixture of hiking trails, various parks, hidden paths, and more! For those looking to check out San Francisco, this trail is right for you. The crosstown trail literally takes you across San Francisco allowing hikers or bikers to see what SF has to offer! (Note that the bike trails are a bit different from the hiking trail.) The trail begins at Candlestick Point and ends at Lands End. As you follow the trek across San Francisco, check out the different sights this trail has to offer (such as the beautiful Moraga Steps, which is also listed in AllTrails). Hikers will be able to walk past different gardens, coffee shops, bookstores and more! Thirsty? Stop by one of San Francisco's local coffee shops for some good old joe (and maybe a pastry or two)! At the end of the trail, hikers can grab dinner at Lands End. Users have reported that this trail takes most of the day if starting early. That being said you may be able to catch the sunset at Lands End! Looking to hike some more? Check out our Lands End Trail, another fun San Francisco hike! Note: Hikers can also opt out of hiking the whole trail as this trail is also connected by public transportation systems.Show more
#10 - Presidio Promenade Trail
Presidio of San Francisco
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(224)
Length: 4.5 mi • Est. 2 h 6 m
According to Access Northern California (http://accessnca.org/access-northern-california/explore/explore-detail-view/?site_id=127): A U.S. Army post for nearly 150 years, San Francisco's Presidio has been a national park since 1994. Archaeological digs have uncovered remains from some of the city's earliest structures here. More than 5 million people visit the Presidio every year to hike or bike within the park's 1,491 acres. Two wheelchair-accessible trails run east-west through the northern section: the spectacular Golden Gate Promenade, a four-plus mile stretch of the Bay Trail that runs along the waterfront through Crissy Field's restored marshland to Civil War-era Fort Point; and the Presidio Promenade which travels through the heart of the historic Presidio, from the Lombard Street gate past the Main Post and San Francisco National Cemetery to the Golden Gate Bridge. West of the bridge, a short stretch of Coastal Trail brings you to an overlook atop the Presidio's rugged western bluffs; or you can visit Baker Beach and Battery Chamberlin. Before setting off to explore the Presidio, you may want to stop at the visitor center at the Main Post (210 Lincoln Blvd.) to orient yourself. Staff here can answer your questions and provide maps and brochures. Interactive exhibits explain the park's fascinating history. Other visitor centers within the Presidio are at the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary and Fort Point, along the Golden Gate Promenade; the pavilion at the Golden Gate Bridge Plaza provides visitor information and has a few exhibits, but is primarily a gift shop. ACCESSIBILITY: An accessible free shuttle bus, PresidiGo, runs through the Presidio, making several stops (not all are accessible). The bus has space for two people in wheelchairs. There are designated handicapped-accessible parking spaces at both ends. There are wheelchair-accessible restrooms at the Golden Gate Bridge Plaza (long lines here) or at the Visitors Center on the Main Post. The Visitors Center is wheelchair-accessible. The Presidio Promenade's route follows both dedicated pathways and broad sidewalks and is not always clearly signed. The National Park web page for this trail says that the average grade is 2.9% and the maximum grade is 10.8%. To find your way, it's helpful to download the detailed Presidio map from the park's website or stop by the Visitor Center. Begin your trek along the Presidio Promenade just inside the Lombard Street Gate. The trail heads westward on the sidewalk along Lombard Street, then takes off on a broad asphalt path. On your right is the Letterman Digital Arts Center. Most of the buildings are off-limits to the public, but if you're a fan of the Star Wars films you may want to detour to Building B. Behind the complex, a mostly accessible landscaped park with a manmade lagoon and creek is also open. Back on the trail, follow the path to a broad sidewalk along Lincoln Boulevard. You soon come to Thompson's Reach, where a portion of a former creek has been restored. A short spur trail on your right leads down a moderate slope to an overlook with interpretive signs about the creek. Return to the main trail, following the sidewalk west a short distance to the Main Post, the heart of the Presidio since 1776. The Walt Disney Family Museum is near the visitor center. On the Main Post, the Presidio Promenade follows the sidewalk past the transit center and post office, then, as you reach Montgomery Street, takes off on a broad multiuse path that winds behind the visitor center, following the route of the Presidio Parkway (formerly Doyle Drive). Here you have a panoramic view of the Golden Gate Strait through wire fencing. You soon pass the San Francisco National Cemetery, established in 1884. Just past the cemetery the promenade splits off from Lincoln Boulevard and descends a moderate slope to five brick cavalry stables. One still houses U.S. Park Police horses. Behind one of the stables you cross a 55-foot wooden bridge, then begin a gentle climb up to travel along Lincoln Boulevard again. Passing under Doyle Drive, with its massive stone supports and metalwork painted the same orange hue as the Golden Gate Bridge, you soon come to the Crissy Field Overlook. From here to the Golden Gate Bridge Plaza, where the promenade ends, is about half a mile. Be sure to look for a pullout with interpretive signs and interactive exhibits about the bridge. El Polin Spring, at the end of MacArthur Avenue in a residential area southeast of the Main Post, has a short accessible loop trail (boardwalk and gravel) around a spring that was a source of fresh water for the native people and early settlers. A portion of the creek has been "daylighted" and native plants restored. This riparian habitat is an especially rewarding place for bird-watching, and picnic areas and parking are accessible.Show more
Showing results 1 - 10 of 26