Best Local Hikes in San Francisco - Backpacker

Hike Like a Local in San Francisco

In the Bay Area, easy-access trails treat hikers to spectacular coastal walks, big-view summits, primeval redwood forests, and waterfalls—all within a couple hours of town (often less). Best part? Mild temperatures year-round make San Francisco a four-season hiking city.
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The Best Local Hikes San Francisco

Tennessee Point, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Miles 5.4 (out and back) Drive from town 30 minutes

Stoke your NorCal pride on the most viewtastic trail in an area that’s full of them. The Coastal Trail traces 50-foot ocean bluffs the whole way from Fort Cronkhite (a World War II military post) to Muir Beach (tidepool-filled and dog-friendly), 5 miles away. Head out from Rodeo Beach and climb to Tennessee Point, where a wraparound view stretches all the way to the Farallon Islands. Ready for more? Follow the ocean bluffs northwest, passing social trails that descend into explorable sea caves, and reach Coyote Ridge at mile 2.7. Since you’re on the Pacific side, time your jaunt for sunset. The fog will likely have burned off by then. Trailhead Coastal (Mitchell Road) Info 

Kings Canyon Loop, Valle Vista Staging Area

Miles 6.6 (loop) Drive from town 45 minutes

Some of the East Bay’s finest loop hikes ring reservoirs. And this one, around the San Leandro Reservoir in Moraga, offers a chance to see the shoreline, mountain views, and wildlife just beyond Oakland’s city limits. Grab an EBMUD permit ($3) and tackle the loop clockwise so you do the biggest climb (400 feet) on fresh legs. Stop for lunch at the “halfway” bench with views of the San Leandro Reservoir. On the way back around, descend through meadows and finish along the water where migrating birds, turkeys, and great blue herons ply the shores. Trailhead Valle Vista Info

Best Local Hikes San Francisco Portola Redwoods

Peters Creek Loop, Portola Redwoods State Park

Miles 11.5 (loop) Drive from town 1 hour 15 minutes

Skip the crowds at Muir Woods and head to Portola Redwoods State Park, where the trees are just as impressive but the traffic is so low that the visitor center is often unmanned. The Peters Creek Loop takes you deep into the Santa Cruz Mountains on trail that’s overgrown with ferns and, yes, poison oak (wear pants). Set up at Slate Creek Trail Camp (reservations and permits required; $23). At the far corner of the park, you’ll find yourself alone in a grove of redwoods that grows beside a peaceful creek. Trailhead Slate Creek Info

Daily Walk

The Batteries to Bluffs Trail in the Presidio is only .7 mile, but hikers can explore old military structures from the 1900s. They look best at sunset when Karl the Fog is hiding.

Where to Buy Gear in San Francisco: Sports Basement

Best Local Hikes San Francisco Monks Kettle food

The Monk's Kettle

Where to Eat in San Francisco

Grab a big posthike meal at The Monk’s Kettle in the Mission. In the East Bay, have a treat at Fentons

Don’t forget: Bay Area Trail Maps from Redwood Hikes Press have great beta.

Best Local Hikes San Francisco scout Daniel Markey

Daniel Markey

Our Scouts: Daniel Markey and Paulina Dao

Best Local Hikes San Francisco scout Paulina Dao

Paulina Dao

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