Hike Your Best Life: The Best Nature Walk for Car-less San Franciscans
Put down the phone, you guys—and lace-up those Nikes, instead.
One thing we find particularly special about San Francisco is that it’s a major destination city surrounded—but one surrounded by boarderless, accessible nature. The beach, the bay, the woods, the hills are all within proximity, just a stone’s throw from public transportation stop. (For many of us, owning a car is out of the picture with the demands of street sweeping, parking, and general cost.)
Whether you’re seeking an urban hiking adventure or you wish to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city, behold several BART and Muni-accessible hikes for when your Timberlands and hydration packs need attention.
Lands End, San Francisco
If you are an SF native, a city resident, or simply visiting from out of town, this should be on your bucket list. A classic San Francisco hike, Lands End provides stunning views of San Francisco’s most historical sights while you clock in some cardio. You can see the Sutro Baths, the Labyrinth, the Golden Gate Bridge, and stroll along the Presidio Golf Course on what can be made into a half day adventure in the Richmond district. Treat yo’self afterwards and dine at Cliff House with spectacular, endless views of the Pacific Ocean. // Accessible by: 38 or 38L Muni bus along Geary
Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, Oakland/Berkeley
Determined to embrace nature a decent distance from city life? This hiking option involves a bit of an urban adventure before you become fully immersed in winding trails and open air. Catch the BART to Rockridge or a Berkeley station, then zip onto a quick bus ride and walk about thirty minutes for the Claremont entrance at Stonewall Drive. Pack water, sunscreen, and get ready to give your heart a racing challenge as this hike presents steep hills. The reward though aside from a great workout? You may be able to see views of the Golden Gate Bridge, depending on which trail you take—and, well, just how thick the fog is that day.
Pro tip: Pack serious shoes for this hike, such as trail running shoes or hiking shoes that are specifically built for good grip and sturdiness. // Accessible by: Rockridge BART, Ashby BART, Downtown Berkeley BART
Mount Sutro, San Francisco
Situated by Golden Gate Park in the Inner Sunset, Mount Sutro is described as a storybook hiking destination that will feel like you’re wandering through a fairyland. There is actually a “Fairy Gates” Trail that is masked by lush greenery and covered by trees overhead. Take muni into the Inner Sunset, then walk a little over half a mile to get to Mount Sutro, which is deceptively still in San Francisco, despite the abundance of foliage.
Pro tip: bring layers or wear long sleeves and pants in case you encounter poison oak along the trails. // Accessible by: N Muni Line, 43 or 44 Muni bus
Glen Canyon Park, San Francisco
If you love dogs AND hiking, Glen Canyon has both! Populated by locals, this park provides varying trail levels and options for you to wander along for hours. Bring your fur baby, or play with other pups while you soak up the sun and enjoy the outdoors. Still in San Francisco, this park has the feels away from the urban jungle and is about a 20 minute walk up from the Glen Park BART station. Safeway is conveniently located nearby for any needed refreshments and snacks.
Pro Tip: Enter from Christopher Playground or Glen Canyon Rec Center, and prepare to get a muddy or dirty, especially after rainfall. // Accessible by: Glen Park BART
San Bruno Mountain State Park, Brisbane
Head south out of the city and you can cross into this park that will keep you occupied for a solid half day. Mingle with wildlife while absorbing the sweeping views of both San Francisco and the peninsula as you climb the hilly trails. Take BART to Balboa Station or Daly City, and walk to the park entrance or catch a Muni ride down. Pack layers, sunscreen, and snacks ahead of time, and scope out which loops you might want to take, as they vary from 2 miles to 6 miles or longer. Want to learn more about the park’s history? There are docent-led hikes that take place several Saturdays of each month, which is a great way to become aware of nature preservation and the park’s ecology. While hiking is the most popular activity in this park, you can have a picnic before you start at the park’s entrance with barbecue pits, or enjoy some downtime in the recreational grass areas before embarking on the trails. // Accessible by: Daly City or Balboa Station BART