San Francisco is a big city, but hiking trails abound just beyond downtown. While some are tiring, all-day excursions, there are plenty of hikes fit for families, kids, and anyone new to the trail.
Some of our favorite easy San Francisco hikes take you to Golden Gate Bridge views, historic sites, and through an ancient redwood grove. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-timer, when exploring California, don’t miss the best trails in the city by the bay.
3 of the Best Hikes Near San Francisco
1) Land’s End Trail
The Lands End Trail is easily one of the best easy hikes in San Francisco, with incredible coastline and Golden Gate Bridge vistas. Dependent on how far you hike, you can access China Beach, see the Sutro Baths, visit Point Lobos, and see the USS San Francisco Memorial.
Completing the trail is about 3.26 miles one way; it follows the coastline and travels up and down staircases and along a dirt path through native plants and wildflowers in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
If you park along Geary Avenue, you’ll see the Golden Gate Bridge at the beginning and travel away from it as you hike toward the Sutro Baths. To return, just walk back the way you came. You can also start at the Sutro Baths by parking in the El Camino Del Mar lot. Climbing the staircases can be a little strenuous.
Still, the trail is welcoming to kids thanks to its many entertaining viewpoints along the way. Dogs on leashes are welcome to hike with you.
2) Batteries to Bluffs Trail
Love U.S. history and scenic views? Head just beyond the city to the Presidio’s western shoreline, where you’ll find the iconic Batteries to Bluffs Trail. This 0.7-mile path begins on Lincoln Boulevard and quickly descends down rocky shores to spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge.
Along the way, you’ll pass native plants and wildflowers before reaching Battery Crosby, a historic gun battery built in 1900 that helped defend San Francisco’s harbor. Continue descending to Marshall’s Beach to feel the cold Pacific Ocean water on your toes. If you want to extend your walk, this trail connects to the larger California Coastal Trail at both ends.
3) Muir Woods Loop
Wander through one of the Bay Area’s last remaining redwood forests on a hike through Muir Woods National Monument—just a few miles north of San Francisco. Some of these redwoods date back nearly 1,000 years, and you can find six miles of trails with hiking loops that take half an hour, an hour, or an hour and a half through them.
Our recommended 2.4-mile loop follows the Redwood Creek Trail for 1.2 miles before connecting to the Hillside Trail at Bridge 4. Follow this winding path through the redwoods before returning to the visitor’s center. Take the famed Dipsea Trail from Muir Woods to Stinson Beach if you want a more extended option.
Note: Reservations are always required to park at Muir Woods, and dogs are not allowed on the trails.
About the Author:
Jenny Willden is a Salt Lake City, Utah native and a freelance adventure travel writer. She’s served as managing editor of Utah’s Outdoor Sports Guide magazine for over a decade and has written for over 70 other publications.
When she's not writing, you'll find Jenny exploring the mountains via snowboard or hiking boots. You can keep up with her hiking adventures on Instagram at @jenny.willden.