Amazing Urban Nature Hikes in San Francisco

San Francisco is full of natural wonder. A city built on a multitude of hills that claims well over 30 miles of trails within its 7 mile by 7 mile borders.  Surrounded by the bay and ocean, you are never far from a breathtaking vista or a natural nook to explore.

First time novices or experienced hikers both need to be prepared, even for a quick 30 minute excursion around town.  Here are my five essentials for any nature walk:
1) the right shoes – anything comfortable with a bit of tread
2) fluids – a bottle of water or other thirst quencher
3) cell phone – preferably silenced but good for directions if you get lost
4) backpack – anything to carry your “gear” that allows both hands free
5) your attention – leave the iPod at home so you hear when the birds or the wind calls to you.

The Beachcomber: Ocean Beach

Start at The Great Highway between Lincoln and Fulton

Hiking Level: Easy beach walking

Distance: As far as you’d like, but 2 miles to the Sloat Blvd. and back is a 4 mile loop.

Hidden Gem: Solitude a plenty.  On a windy night, you might be the only one out on the beach after 8pm.

My Mountain: Sutro Mountain

Start in Cole Valley.  Trail head at 17th and Stanyan.

Hiking Level: Moderate climbing up and all downhill back.

Distance:  About 2.5 miles

Hidden Gem: Along the Mystery Trail and you will encounter a few treasures carved into old tree trunks.

More and map:

Presidio Overlook to GG Bridge

Start at Immigrant Point Overlook in the Presidio.  Trailhead are stairs down to Lincoln Blvd and trailhead to Batteries to Bluffs

Hiking Level: Lots of ups and downs with flat return.

Distance:  About 2 miles

Hidden Gem: You can’t miss perfect backdrop of Golden Gate Bridge at every overlook.

More and map:

Strawberry Hill (GG Park)

Start anywhere in Golden Gate Park, but lots of parking near Stow Lake.

Hiking Level: Easy ups when taken slow.

Distance:  About 1 mile

Hidden Gem: Hanging out above the trees – enjoy the butterfly habitat at the top.  Measuring close to 430 feet into the air, Strawberry Hill is the highest point in the entire park.

More and Map:

Glen Park Canyon

Start at either end. Park on Bosworth and hike in or start at Portola with newly built stairs next to School of the Arts.

Hiking Level: Moderate ups and down with some narrow trails.

Distance: 2.5 miles roundtrip

Hidden Gem: Glen Park’s Islais Creek is the largest remaining creek in San Francisco with public access.

More & Map:

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