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: https://mntsutro.com/hiking/
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: http://www.presidio.gov/trails/batteries-to-bluffs-trail
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: https://goldengatepark.com/?s=strawberry+hill
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: http://sfrecpark.org/destination/glen-park/