San Francisco, CA: Ring Mountain - Backpacker

San Francisco, CA: Ring Mountain

Escape city crowds on this 2.9-mile hike in Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve that features massive boulders, giant oaks, and sweeping views of San Francisco.
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From Paradise Drive, hike south on the Phyllis Ellman Trail. In 500 feet, the path begins to climb, gaining elevation quickly and leaving the fast-paced Bay Area behind. Boulders, oak trees, and overlooks line the trail on the one-mile stretch to Turtle Rock, a massive boulder resting on the ridge. Continue hiking .5 mile to the top of Ring Mountain where you’ll find views of the Bay Bridge, Angel Island, and downtown San Francisco. The return trip back to the trailhead follows an unnamed dirt road and passes an impressive oak tree with tentacle-like branches.
Mapped by Matt Heid

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 3.4



Location: 37.9209938049316, -122.494331359863

Head south along the Phyllis Ellman Trail; trail starts to climb in 500 feet.


Location: 37.9187393188477, -122.494171142578

Bear right @ Y-junction onto Phyllis Ellman Trail. Keep climbing—picturesque views of San Francisco are just over the hill.


Location: 37.9176559448242, -122.494171142578

Stay left @ Y-junction and continue to climb past protruding serpentinite boulders, California's state rock.


Location: 37.9170074462891, -122.494842529297

Turn left @ Y-junction and begin a short traverse along the hillside.


Location: 37.9150466918945, -122.494331359863

Bear right @ Y-junction and hike past a small grove of old oak trees on the right.


Location: 37.9126091003418, -122.494300842285

Turn right (southeast) on Phyllis Ellman Trail. Spectacular views of San Francisco and the central Bay Area begin to open up to the south.


Location: 37.9115104675293, -122.493232727051

Turn left @ 4-way junction onto Ring Mountain Fire Road, heading east.


Location: 37.9115943908691, -122.491554260254

Turn right @ 4-way junction onto side path. Walk south toward Turtle Rock, a massive boulder resting on the broad, flat ridge (also a popular bouldering site).


Location: 37.9111289978027, -122.491554260254

Grab your camera and scramble atop Turtle Rock for sweeping panorama views of the northern Bay Area. Next, hike northwest on side path. In 200 feet, turn right @ T-junction onto Ring Mountain Fire Road.


Location: 37.9117965698242, -122.48902130127

Turn right @ T-junction onto paved Taylor Fire Road.


Location: 37.9106864929199, -122.488342285156

Bear left @ Y-junction onto an unnamed dirt road. Hike east towards the flat hilltop.


Location: 37.9101333618164, -122.485542297363

A small grove of wind-blown bay trees marks the summit of Ring Mountain. Enjoy expansive views of the Bay Bridge, Angel Island and downtown San Francisco. Next: Retrace your steps to Waypoint 8; turn right to begin descent down hill.


Location: 37.9133110046387, -122.491806030273

Trail passes an enormous coastal live oak tree whose branches twist down the hillside, resembling an octopus's tentacles.


Location: 37.9138259887695, -122.49104309082

Bear left @ T-junction and hike down the path to Waypoint 2; turn right and head back to the trailhead.

Turtle Rock

Location: 37.911262512207, -122.49137878418

View from Ring Mountain

Location: 37.91015625, -122.485450744629

Live Oak

Location: 37.913215637207, -122.491821289062

Gigantic Oak Tree

Location: 37.913402557373, -122.491661071777

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