View From The Top

Best Day Hikes in San Francisco

Looking to take the air and get some exercise with a walk? This is one of the loveliest places on the planet, after all. The day hike is where it’s at, and the list below charts your course for five of the best day hikes in San Francisco.


Presidio Promenade


You really can’t go wrong, hiking around the Presidio. It was one of the first colonial settlements in the Bay Area for a reason, after all – the great views, especially of the Bay, Crissy Field and Marin. Among the Presidio trails, the Presidio Promenade stands out, with 2.2 miles of paved path running from Lombard to the Golden Gate Bridge, with San Francisco National Cemetery along the way. Short, with some of the best sights in the city – what’s not to like?


Fort Funston


King of the shoreline spectacles, Funston gives you a view of the Pacific Ocean like no other, along its 2 mile reach. Want to see a masterpiece of a sunset? Go from the head of the Sunset Trail, past Battery Davis. After the show’s over, take Horse Trail back to your start. It’s also a paradise for dogs, with leash-free room to romp between surf and shrubs.


Mount Davidson


Want to feel like you’re out of San Francisco, without leaving? The forest trails of Mount Davidson will transport you to the wilderness as soon as you leave the trailhead and enter the pine trees. It’ll just be you, the rustling wind, the rich green of the tree canopy, and the play of eucalyptus scent and fog. The routes are up to you – a loop or a there-and-back-again – but the highlights are many, with a peak cross commemorating the Armenian genocide, an incomparable view of Sutro Tower, and city vistas all the way to East Bay.


Lake Merced


There’s little on Earth that’s more peaceful than the shores of Lake Merced on an April morning: The mist embraces everything, even the sounds of unique wildlife that rise and ebb around this 614-acre park. Ideal for a tranquil escape, Lake Merced’s environs also offer fishing and rowing.


Lands End Trail


All you can want in a day hike, you’ll find along the 3-mile loop of the Lands End Trail. Curving along the coastline from the base of Sutro Baths, past the Presidio, the trail vistas encompass the Pacific, the Golden Gate, the Bay, and miles of flawless forest. It even has a cave. It’s not hard to explore all of this – and the rare species of birds that inhabit it – so for anyone who digs the outdoors and lives in the 415, it’s not to be missed.