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.

photo crosstown3

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

ocean beach sunsetStart:  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

photo Sutro_MagicStart: 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 info and map.

Presidio Overlook to GG Bridge

IMG_6402Start: Immigrant Point Overlook in the Presidio.  Trailhead are stairs down to Lincoln Blvd and trailhead to Batteries to Bluffs

Hiking Level: Stairs with 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 info and map.

Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park

Start: Near Stow Lake, but really anywhere in Golden Gate Park. golden_gate_park_waterfall

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 info and Map.

Glen Park Canyon

IMG_6366(1)Start: Glen Canyon 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 miles roundtrip

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

Check out these other resources for nature walks in San Francisco and beyond:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area Hikes

Bay Area Ridge Trail


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