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If you love the outdoors, San Francisco is one of the best cities in the United States that you can be. Surrounded by rolling hills and mountains, the Bay Area is a picturesque urban area that’s home to its fair share of hiking trails and scenic parks. There is no shortage of great hikes in San Francisco and the surrounding areas, with options for all levels of experience. We wrote this massive guide to share 27 of the most incredible places for hiking near San Francisco!

Best Hikes in San Francisco

Twin Peaks

  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • How to Get There: Take the 37 Corbett mini bus to the base of the mountain, then hike up to the top

As one of the most iconic viewpoints in San Francisco, Twin Peaks is an excellent hike for all levels. Twin Peaks is one of the most popular hikes in San Francisco, and for good reason: the summit boasts panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Bay Area. On clear days, you can catch spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and downtown San Francisco. Located in the Twin Peaks Nature Area, the trail and its surroundings are also home to several species of native wildlife and plants, and depending on the season, you may even be able to spot wildflowers.

Pro tip: To avoid crowds and get the best photo-worthy light, wake up early and hike to Twin Peaks around sunrise to catch stunning views of the city below.

Mount Davidson Park

  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • How to Get There: Take bus 36 or 57 to the stop at Dalewood and Landsdale, then follow the wooded trail (unsigned)

Another urban hike that’s highly recommended by locals is the loop trail at Mount Davidson Park. Located on Mount Davidson, the highest point in San Francisco, the loop trail brings you through parts of the city’s natural rainforest areas, winding through eucalyptus trees and providing jaw-dropping views of the city and the bay below. The trail also has plenty of wildflowers and serene areas to walk in tranquility and nature.

Pro tip: There are no signs on the trails here, so be sure to stick to obvious trail areas and take things slowly.

Sunset views of the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge & Park

  • Distance: Varies; crossing the bridge is 3.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • How to Get There: You can take several public transportation routes to get to the Golden Gate Bridge – click here to learn more

Let’s face it: the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the USA’s most iconic and well-known landmarks. However, did you know that there’s a pedestrian trail across the bridge, as well as a network of trails in the surrounding park area? The total length of the bridge is 1.7 miles one-way, meaning you can get a pretty significant stroll in just by crossing. However, if you’d prefer a longer pathway to wander, hit up some of the gravel trails in Golden Gate Park’s 1,700+ acres of bayside recreational space. Some of the paths will take you to abandoned structures or over some of San Francisco’s famous hilly terrain – perfect for a bit more of a challenge or for trail running.

Glen Canyon Park

  • Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • How to Get There: Bus line 44 goes directly to Glen Canyon Park; it is also accessible from several BART stations

Located in the center of San Francisco, Glen Canyon Park is home to an almost 2-mile loop trail that’s accessible for all levels of hikers. Not only does the trail provide gorgeous, elevated views of San Francisco, but it’s also dog- and family-friendly. You’ll hike through rocky hills, dense wooded areas, and meadows that will make you feel like you’re surrounded by nature. The trail also boasts spectacular panoramic vistas of the city.

Pro tip: This hike is best during the springtime, when wildflowers begin to bloom in the areas surrounding the trail.

Lands End Trail

  • Distance: 3.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: Bus line 38 runs from downtown San Francisco to the trail head for Lands End

Located in a small, seemingly untouched corner of the city, Lands End Trail is one of the wildest and most beautiful hikes in San Francisco. With its variety of abandoned structures (including shipwrecks and the Sutro Baths) and its rocky shorelines, this trail brings you from SF’s fast-paced streets to a serene, rugged nature environment. The views of the bay from the trail and the shoreline are absolutely breathtaking. While the Lands End trail itself isn’t too difficult, you’ll want to make sure that you wear sturdy shoes and prepare for stairs – the terrain is quite hilly and rocky here.

Pro tip: Go early for the best views! The trail can get very crowded during peak hours and on weekends.

Angel Island

  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • How to Get There: Take the Tiburon Ferry, Blue & Gold Ferry, or the East Bay Ferry to Angel Island (note that there is an additional fee to enter the park)

Formerly the customs point for entrants to the United States, Angel Island is now a beautiful island-park in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. On clear days, you can see gorgeous views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands to the north. Once you’re there, you can hike the island’s perimeter road (~5 miles) or summit the park’s Mount Livermore for some breathtaking, 360-degree views.

Pro tip: This park gets VERY crowded as it is a major tourist attraction in San Francisco. We’d recommend visiting on weekdays or early in the morning for the smallest crowds.

Views from the Marin Headlands, home to many of the hikes on our list

Beautiful Trails for Hiking Near San Francisco

South Headlands Loop

  • Distance: 7.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The 78X bus runs on weekends from downtown San Francisco to Marin Headlands. Otherwise, you can drive and park nearby.

One of the locals’ favorite hikes in San Francisco is the South Headlands Loop. Located in Marin Headlands, a scenic park across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, the South Headlands Loop is a bit more strenuous, given its nearly 8-mile trail length and variety of rocky coastline terrain. From the trail, you’ll catch views of the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown San Francisco, and the shoreline.

Tennessee Valley

  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • How to Get There: The 78X bus runs on weekends from downtown San Francisco to Marin Headlands. Otherwise, you can drive and park nearby.

As one of the most scenic trails in the Marin Headlands, the Tennessee Valley trail is an easy and incredibly beautiful pathway to tackle, especially if you’re on a time crunch. This easy trail features seaside trails and stunning views of the rocky Marin Headlands bluffs. You’ll start in the meadows of the headlands and walk all the way to the coast, which provides a variety of views and photo opportunities that span from grassy meadows to craggy shorelines. For one of the easiest and picturesque hikes near San Francisco, look no farther than Tennessee Valley.

Tomales Point

  • Distance: 9.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Tomales Bay Park is by car

Located in the Point Reyes National Seashore area, Tomales Point is one of the most stunning places to go hiking near San Francisco and the Bay Area, in our opinion. This moderate hike has jaw-dropping views of the coastline at Point Reyes National Seashore, and it’s challenging enough to give you a decent workout, too. In addition to amazing views, Tomales Point and the surrounding areas are full of local wildlife, including elk, and colorful spring wildflowers.

Pro tip: Parts of the trail can get overgrown in the warmer times of the year, so be sure to wear full-length pants and long sleeves for added protection.

Nimitz Way Trail at Inspiration Point

  • Distance: 5.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: Take the BART to Berkeley, then call an Uber to the trail head; alternatively, there is parking on-site if you’d prefer to drive

Nimitz Way Trail may be one of the most visually interesting hikes in San Francisco. On one side, you get gorgeous city views from a bird’s eye perspective, and on the other side, you’ll see green mountains and sparkling lakes that look completely remote and untouched. We included the Nimitz Way Trail to Inspiration Point because it’s a bit more challenging than some of the other urban hikes on our list, but also because it’s got some of the best natural views in the Berkeley area.

Alamere Falls in Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Alamere Falls Trail

  • Distance: 13.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Point Reyes National Seashore from San Francisco is by car

As one of Northern California’s most beloved hikes, Alamere Falls Trail is a lengthy but worthwhile seaside hike that ends at a stunning viewpoint of Alamere Falls crashing into the ocean from the top of a rocky bluff. The trail is well-marked and passes along the Pacific coastline, winding through several viewpoints of the surrounding hills and lakes. There’s an optional access point to the beach towards the end of the trail, but it can be quite slippery and steep – proceed at your own risk and with caution!

Cataract Falls

  • Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to the Mount Tamalpais area is by car

As one of the most popular spots for hiking near San Francisco, Cataract Falls is a cross between a woodland fairytale and rushing mountain waterways. Located in the Mount Tamalpais area, this trail is the perfect spot for a family outing or a solo hike through some beautiful, shaded areas of northern California. Wooded boardwalks and gravel trails take you through the forest to several different waterfalls, which are a welcome change from some of the sunnier, drier peak hikes you’ll find in the Bay Area.

Pro tip: Cataract Falls is one of the more popular hikes near San Francisco, so try to visit on a weekday if you’re hoping to avoid the crowds.

Muir Woods Trail

  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • How to Get There: You can drive or take a bus from downtown SF to Muir Woods National Monument

The Muir Woods Trail is one of the most popular trails in the Muir Woods National Monument area, as it provides a lovely glimpse into the massive Redwood forests in this part of Northern California. Family-friendly and fairly flat, Muir Woods Trail is a great spot to go if you’re on a time crunch or if you’re traveling with children. Here, you’ll find densely wooded trails and well-groomed trails that are great for hikers of all levels. Note that you need a National Parks Pass to get into the trail area, or you can pay a day visit fee to enter.

Dipsea Trail (Muir Woods)

  • Distance: 9.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • How to Get There: You can drive or take a bus from downtown SF to Muir Woods National Monument

For hikers looking for an extra challenge, Dipsea Trail is one of the most highly-recommended and beloved spots for hiking near San Francisco. Located in the Muir Woods National Monument area, the trail extends from the dense, foggy Redwood forests all the way to the shore at Stinson Beach. With steep inclines and descents, the Dipsea Trail provides a challenge even for experienced hikers, but the views and scenery make this lengthy day hike worth the effort.

Photo Credit: Sathish J (Flickr CC)

Berry Creek Loop at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

  • Distance: 11.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Big Basin is by car

If you’re looking for cool, shady hiking near San Francisco, look no further than the Berry Creek Loop in Big Basin State Park. This 11.2 mile trail winds through the Redwood forest and brings hikers to a lovely waterfall. The Berry Creek waterfall is stunning and the hike to get there provides a challenge that’s accessible to even less-experienced hikers (with some patience and grit!). Along the way, you’ll find wooded trails, scenic bridges, and some views of the city and the surrounding nature areas.

Castle Rock Trail

  • Distance: 5.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Mount Diablo from San Francisco and the Bay Area is by car

Castle Rock Trail is a scenic loop trail in the western part of Mount Diablo State Park, and is one of the more popular places to go hiking near San Francisco and the Bay Area. Featuring gorgeous wildflower displays, rock formations, and sweeping views of the surrounding Mount Diablo park areas, the trail is marked by a couple of steep inclines but overall is pretty easy. Throughout the trail, you’ll also get to see the warped remains of old oak trees and pastures of grazing cattle, too.

Pro tip: From the Castle Rock loop, you can summit Mount Diablo if you’re feeling extra ambitious!

Mount Diablo State Park at sunset

Mount Diablo Grand Loop

  • Distance: 6.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Mount Diablo from San Francisco and the Bay Area is by car

Mount Diablo State Park is one of the California’s most beloved outdoor areas, and the Mount Diablo Grand Loop is the perfect way to get a taste for it. If you’re looking for an area to go hiking near San Francisco, Mount Diablo State Park has almost certainly got something for you. Green rolling hills and big skies offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, especially on sunny days. You’ll pass through rugged desert-type landscapes and lush greenery (and see some pretty spectacular views) throughout the 6.8 miles that this grand tour of Mount Diablo has to offer!

Donner Creek Loop

  • Distance: 5.1 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Mount Diablo from San Francisco and the Bay Area is by car

If you love waterfalls, you’re in for a real treat on the Donner Creek Loop. This scenic trail winds through forested areas and has four different waterfalls for you to marvel at and explore. You’ll also catch some beautiful views of the valleys below and the surrounding peaks. During the hike, you’ll have to cross some streams, so it’s wise to wear waterproof hiking boots if you’re planning to tackle it, especially after a period of rain.

Pro tip: Do this hike after it rains to get the best waterfall views.

Eagle Peak Loop

  • Distance: 7.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate/difficult
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Mount Diablo from San Francisco and the Bay Area is by car

For a strenuous hike that’s a bit more off-the-beaten-path than many others on this list, Eagle Peak Loop is an incredibly picturesque and challenging trail in Mount Diablo State Park that has excellent views of Mitchell Canyon. On clear days, you can see all the way out to the Sierra Nevada mountains on trails lined with colorful, bright wildflowers. We’d recommend bringing trekking poles on this hike, as there are some steep sections with loose gravel.

Views of the Pacific Coast and US 1 from Vicente Flat Trail

Vicente Flat Trail

  • Distance: 10.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Big Sur from San Francisco and the Bay Area is by car

Spanning forests, mountains, and grazing the coastline, Vicente Flat Trail is arguably one of the most spectacular hikes near San Francisco. With a pathway that moves in and out of shady areas, you’ll get a balance of sun and shade on this trail. During the first half of the hike, look around for spectacular views of the Big Sur coastline. Many people opt to split this hike across two days and camp at Vicente or Espinosa campsites. It’s a lovely overnight hiking trip with gorgeous sunset views!

Pro tip: There’s poison oak and lots of bugs on the trail here, so be sure to use bug repellent and wear long socks to avoid any itchy scenarios.

Palos Colorados Trail

  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Palos Colorados is to drive. You can also take an Uber/Lyft, but note that this park does not have good phone service, so pre-arranging transportation is recommended

If tall trees, babbling creeks, and dirt pathways are your calling, the Palos Colorados Trail in Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park is one of the best hikes near San Francisco for you! This easy, relatively short out-and-back trail is perfect for families and beginners, as it’s easy to get to from San Francisco and has beautiful exposure to the towering Redwood trees in the area. The Palos Colorados Trail is also a fantastic place for hiking in rain or shine, as the fog through the trees can make for some seriously spooky effects.

Photo Credit: Kevin Lam (Flickr CC)

Ewoldsen Trail

*This trail is temporarily closed – check here for the latest updates

  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Big Sur from San Francisco and the Bay Area is by car

Passing through redwood forests and rocky shores, the Ewoldsen Trail is one of the most stunning Bay Area hikes. With its location in the Big Sur area, you’re in for a real treat here, with sweeping views out to the ocean in between densely forested pathways. Be sure to use bug repellent here (there are allegedly a LOT of ticks) and wear long pants, as the trail in some areas has a lot of vegetation.

Rubicon Trail

  • Distance: 16.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Lake Tahoe from San Francisco is by car

If you’re looking to trade Redwoods for evergreens, head to the Rubicon Trail in the southern part of Lake Tahoe. Located in D. L. Bliss State Park, this long out-and-back trail has stunning views of the teal lake, surrounding mountains, and plenty of shaded spots for a quick siesta. You can walk the entire 16.4 miles or simply go as far as you want and then turn around – you’ll be able to catch absolutely stunning views basically the entire hike. Parts of the trail are closed during the winter, so plan accordingly or visit during the peak months between April and October.

The scenic shores of Lake Tahoe are the perfect place to go hiking near San Francisco

Meeks Bay to Crag Lake

  • Distance: 9.8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to Lake Tahoe from San Francisco is by car

With its gorgeous wildflower-lined paths and sweeping Lake Tahoe vistas, the Meeks Bay to Crag Lake trail is perfect for hiking near San Francisco and the Bay Area. Running through Desolation Wilderness, this trail is particularly appealing for those wanting some tranquility and serenity during their walk. You’ll meander through rock formations, tall pine tree forests, and alpine meadows, ending at the scenic Crag Lake, which is the perfect spot to dip your toes or take a lunch break.

Quicksilver History Loop

  • Distance: 8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get to the Quicksilver History Loop is by car

For history and nature lovers, one of the best hikes near San Francisco is the Quicksilver History Loop. Once home to some of the world’s most active mercury mines, the area was once full of thriving mining communities. Today, it’s filled with 8 miles of scenic views, historic landmarks, and accompanied informational placards.

This trail will not only give you some fresh air and moderately difficult terrain, but will also teach you a little bit about the history of Northern California. Along the trail, you can view old mine entrances, abandoned furnaces, and former houses that miners worked in and occupied.

Photo Credit: Tom Hilton (Flickr CC)

Devil’s Slide Trail

  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • How to Get There: Devil’s Slide Trail is most easily accessed by car

For breathtaking coastline views, there are few better or more accessible hikes near San Francisco than Devil’s Slide Trail. Filled with wildflowers, forested areas, and stunning sea views, this trail’s got everything in its short, 3.1-mile stretch. Devil’s Slide Trail is a short part of the 1,200-mile California Coastal Trail and attracts hikers from all over the country. Given its popularity with hikers, bikers, and trail runners, peak hours may be quite crowded here; however, you can avoid most of the crowds and the direct sunlight by starting early in the morning.

Fall Creek and Lost Empire Loop

  • Distance: 8.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • How to Get There: The easiest way to get there is by car

Located in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, the Fall Creek and Lost Empire Loop is a scenic trail that winds through the majestic redwoods in the park. Since nearly the entire trail is heavily forested, the Fall Creek and Lost Empire Loop is a great option for hikers wanting to take a literal “walk in the woods.”

Additional Resources for Hiking Near San Francisco & the Bay Area

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Kay Rodriguez is the Chicago-based travel writer and photographer behind Jetfarer and Skyline Adventurer. When she's not blogging furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, or paddling in a new city.

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