Best Trail Running Routes in San Francisco

Best Trail Running Routes in the Bay Area

San Francisco, California has always been a tourist destination, with pretty good weather year-round, combined with good food and of course places to go and visit.

It’s a no brainer that this is one of the popular tourist destinations in the USA.

San Francisco also boasts a whole lot of parks and recreation areas around the city, there are numerous outdoor activities that can be done in such places.

These places are famous not only for the difficulty level of the trail but also for the views each trails award participants.

In this list, we will provide the best Trails near San Francisco, California

This is no way in any order but will be sorted by how popular these routes are, and we do say near the bay area.

So if it’s your first time in the Bay Area go and check this scenic hiking, running trail around the city, pick your favorite one too.

Take note that if you running with your dog some places in the list allows but must be kept on a leash at all times, while some don’t allow dogs.

There are kid-friendly trails on the list, some with a good combination of paved and unpaved roads for you to attack.

Other trails on the list are loops while some are out and back, also as a precaution consult your doctor if you’re going to be doing some trail running or other strenuous activity.


Lands End Trail

Difficulty – Moderate

Lands End Trail is a 5.4 KM (3.4 miles) trail loop near San Francisco, the trail is mostly used for hiking, walking and of course, our favorite trail running. The trail is also dog-friendly but must be kept on a leash.

According to the description provided by AllTrails.

Lands End Trail explores the historic Sutro Baths and offers a brilliant view of the Pacific. A must-see for any visitor to San Francisco.

Waypoints

Waypoints are cool checkpoints across the trail, with cool little history in them too.
There are a couple of waypoints all across the trail too;

  • Seal Rocks (37.77852, -122.51636)
  • Sutro Baths (37.78080, -122.51415)
  • Rails Along the Golden Gate (37.78099, -122.51172)
  • Vista Points (37.78340, -122.51140)
  • Shipwreck Remains (37.78413, -122.50928)
  • Labyrinth (37.78799, -122.50583)
  • End of the Trail – Options (37.78640, -122.49408)
  • USS San Francisco Memorial (37.78281, -122.51151)
  • Palace of the Legion of Honor (37.78519, -122.49989)
  • Sutro Heights Garden (37.77974, -122.50984)

The majority of the runners here will say that nothing beats the view overlooking the Pacific and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Even if you’re just walking you’ll have an awesome time doing so, it’s short and beautiful to look at.

Just be careful though, especially when hiking stay on the trail and away from the cliffs.

If you can spare some time too you can visit the Legion of Honor museum which is just a short detour from the trail.

Coastal Trail, Miwok Trail, and Bonita Lighthouse

Difficulty – Moderate

Coastal Trail, Miwok Trail, and Bonita Lighthouse Loop is a 13.7 KM (8.5 miles) trail loop located near Sausalito, California.

The trail is dog-friendly but you have to keep them on a leash, the trail is accessible year-round, apart from running and walking there are many activities that can be done here like bird watching.

You have to note that Dogs are not allowed on the Point Bonita Trail leading to the lighthouse.

Waypoints

  • Fort Cronkhite (37.83179, -122.53459)
  • Battery Mendell (37.82254, -122.53318)
  • Point Bonita Lighthouse (37.81874, -122.53000)
  • Nike missile launch site (37.82837, -122.52713)

Before attacking this trail do consult the weather, you might encounter fog or rain and it would be best for you to take another day.

Some hikers do the opposite and tackle the uphill climb first and you are greeted with the magnificent view of the ocean and rodeo beach.

Take your time in going through the trail and overall have fun.

East Peak Loop and Ridgeline

Difficulty – Moderate

East Peak Loop and Ridgeline is a 14.8 KM (9.1 miles) trail loop located near Brisbane, California.

This trail has rich beautiful wild flowers and a number of activities can be done here also like bird watching and nature trips.

On the other hand, the trail does not allow dogs which is a bummer.

Waypoints

  • Trailhead – San Bruno State Park (37.69519, -122.43436)
  • Junction: Summit Loop (37.69471, -122.43561)
  • Junction: Summit Loop/Ridge Trail (37.68955, -122.43602)
  • Junction: Ridge Trail/Quarry Rd (37.67614, -122.41032)
  • Junction: Ridge Trail/Brisbane (37.67588, -122.40970)
  • End of Ridge Trail (37.67346, -122.40095)
  • Junction: Summit Loop/Dairy Ravine Trail (37.69043, -122.43458)
  • Junction: Summit Loop/Eucalyptus (37.69379, -122.43632)
  • Junction: Dairy Ravine/Eucalyptus Loop (37.69275, -122.43262)

Overall the trail is pretty nice though there are complaints that it is unmaintained, you have to consider that you are running outdoors and you should expect hanging plants along the trail.

Note that some runners point out that there is the presence of poison oaks along the area so you have to consider that before running in this trail.

The good thing about this trail is, it doesn’t mix runners with bikers which is a good thing, less traffic.

Presidio Ecology Trail

Difficulty – Easy

Presidio Ecology Trail is a 2.4 KM (1.4 miles) loop trail located near San Francisco, California. It is moderately trafficked. The trail itself features many wild flowers.

Apart from running there’s a bunch of activities that can be done here from hiking, bird watching, and nature trips.

The trail itself is dog and kid-friendly and is accessible year-round not to mention it has a picnic area from families to enjoy.

Waypoints

  • Trailhead (37.79035, -122.45850)
  • Inspiration Point (37.79220, -122.45816)
  • Trail Junction (37.79283, -122.45848)
  • El Polin Picnic Area (37.79312, -122.45565)
  • Trail Junction (37.79310, -122.45692)

The Ecology Trail lies within Presidio’s Watershed, there are also places of interest like El PolĂ­n Spring where you can spot hummingbirds and butterflies.

Candlestick Point

Difficulty – Easy

Candlestick Point is a 2.6 KM (1.6 miles) loop trail located near San Francisco, California, it is lightly trafficked due to multiple activities being done there, from walking, hiking, running and biking.

It is kid-friendly and dog-friendly, apart from the usual outdoor activity you can go fishing and nature trips around Candlestick Point.

Waypoints

  • Trail Entry Point and Parking (37.71184, -122.38112)
  • Pelican Picnic Area (37.70929, -122.38101)
  • Windharp Hill Picnic Area (37.70891, -122.37855)
  • End of Pier (37.70784, -122.37454)
  • Junction- Sunrise Point (37.70902, -122.37472)
  • Plover Picnic Area (37.70976, -122.37902)
  • Jackrabbit Picnic Area (37.71177, -122.38009)
  • Junction (37.71258, -122.37948)
  • Viewpoint (37.71355, -122.37850)
  • Vista Point (37.71434, -122.37745)
  • Junction (37.71363, -122.38046)
  • Junction (37.71415, -122.38045)

If your planning to spend a day on Candlestick Point just be prepared because the weather is unpredictable.

As for the path, there are a number of paved and dirt path which you can access along the parking area.

The beauty of this place is that it’s easily accessible and offers a quick getaway from the city.

California Coastal Trail: Lands End to Golden Gate Bridge

Difficulty – Moderate

California Coastal Trail: Lands End to Golden Gate Bridge is a 14.2 KM (8.8 miles) out & back trail located near San Francisco, California.

It offers gorgeous scenery during all of which you can enjoy doing your chosen outdoor activity, it permits dogs but on a leash all the time.

The trail is rich in wild flowers, and the trail itself is not that hard and is accessible all year round.

Waypoints

  • Sutro Baths (37.78080, -122.51415)
  • Vista Points (37.78340, -122.51140)
  • Labyrinth (37.78799, -122.50583)
  • Lands End meets Sea Cliff (37.78642, -122.49413)
  • Batteries and Views (37.79820, -122.48071)
  • Marshall Beach (37.80060, -122.48040)
  • View Point (37.80192, -122.47903)
  • Golden Gate Bridge (37.80859, -122.47540)

The trail itself consists of two paths, the first is almost easy while the second part has inclines with stairs.

The trail begins at Lands End and provides a very scenic view of the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sweeney Ridge Trail via Sneath Lane

Difficulty – Moderate

Sweeney Ridge Trail via Sneath Lane is a 12.4 (7.7 miles) out & back trail near San Bruno California.

There’s a number of outdoor activities that can be done here, from walking, hiking, nature trips, and biking, therefore the trail itself is moderately trafficked and no dogs are allowed.

Waypoints

  • Sneath Lane/Sweeney Ridge Junction (37.60575, -122.45848)
  • Portola Discovery Site (37.60461, -122.45782)
  • Nike Missile Base (37.61314, -122.45885)

The place is a bit windy and a combination of both concrete and asphalt paths, it should be noted that the trail doesn’t have any shade.

The trail is mostly uphill, the starting part was 550 climb though it’s pretty gradual, the view itself is magnificent from both San Bruno and the Pacifica sides of the ridge.

Batteries to Bluffs Trail

Difficulty – Easy

Batteries to Bluffs Trail is a 3.5 KM (2.1 miles) trail loop located near San Francisco, California. The difficulty level is easy therefore it is good for all comers and skill set.

The trail itself is kid-friendly though it doesn’t allow dogs. Apart from your typical outdoor activities, there’s a lot of things going on here, from bird watching, just going for the view and nature trips.

Waypoints

  • Great view of the Golden Gate Bridge (37.80192, -122.47903)
  • Marshall Beach (37.80060, -122.48040)
  • Batteries and Views (37.79820, -122.48071)

The majority of the people that have gone through the trail all say the same thing the view is amazing.

If you want a bit of a challenge you can attack the stairs leading down to Marshall’s beach and coming back up, which will give you one heck of an exercise.

Some of the local in San Francisco considers this the best hike in the area and that says a lot.

Mori Point Loop Trail

Difficulty – Moderate

Mori Point Loop is a 4.0 KM (2.0 miles) trail loop located near Pacifica, California, the trail itself has a moderate difficulty level.

There’s a lot of activities that can be done on Mori Point Loop, from hiking, nature trips, our favorite trail running, bird watching to name a few.

The trail is kid and dog-friendly though you have to keep the dog on a leash the whole time, wild flowers are abundant in Mori’s Point as well as wild life.

Waypoints

  • Rockaway Beach (37.61093, -122.49578)
  • Unmaintained Trail (37.61634, -122.49597)
  • Mori Point (37.62008, -122.49842)
  • Bootlegger’s Steps (37.62035, -122.49627)
  • Coastal Trail (37.61987, -122.49451)
  • Elevated Boardwalk and Wetland Restoration Area (37.62021, -122.49310)
  • Old Mori Point Road (37.61960, -122.48940)
  • Upper Mori Point Trail (37.61919, -122.48904)
  • Mori Ridge (37.61760, -122.48962)

Some people would want to go on a summer’s day hike, you’ll get great views all around, lot’s of different trails to choose from.

One, in particular, is Bluffs Trail, which gives amazing views of the ocean and the beach below, though take note that there are plenty of wild flowers and not much shade on the trails.

If you’re going on a rainy day hike do be careful there are steep parts so better avoid them.

Barbary Coast Trail

Difficulty – Moderate

Barbary Coast is a 6.9 KM (2.4 miles) trail located near San Francisco, California. Know for it’s amazing view and is accessible year-round.

The trail is dog friendly but must be kept on a leash the whole time, this is a popular spot for runners, hiking and overall just enjoying the view the trail provides.

The trail is rich in history and tradition, there are 180 bronze medallions and arrows embedded in the sidewalk. It connects to 20 historic sites and local museums in San Francisco area.

The Barbary Coast Trail primarily relates to the California gold rush of 1849 and the tragic Earthquake of 1906.

If you’re looking for an urban hike in downtown San Francisco up to the Bay Area then this place is good for you, lot’s of history and easy to follow.

Kirby Cove

Difficulty – Moderate

Kirby Cove is a 4.8 kilometer (3.0 miles) out and back trail, located near Sausalito, California. The difficulty level of the trail is rated moderate.

There’s a lot of activities that can be done in Kirby Cove from mountain biking, bird watching, the trail is kid-friendly though dogs are not allowed at Kirby Cove.

When hiking you will be rewarded with the amazing view of the beach and the Golden Gate Bridge, parking isn’t a problem but occassionally gets crowded.

Kirby Cove is lightly trafficked considering there’s a lot of activities that can be enjoyed in the place.

I would like to thank several websites that helped me in doing this research

These websites provide information needed to complete this post, I hope you have fun reading as I have researching.