1. Lands End Trail, San Francisco
One of the more scenic urban trails, Lands End is as dramatic as it sounds. Start at the historic Cliff House, explore Sutro Baths, and take the Coastal Trail. Follow signs for Mile Rock Beach to see
this breathtaking labyrinth
and some of San Francisco’s most incredible views. You’ll end at the ritzy seaside neighborhood, aptly called Sea Cliff. The whole walk is roughly 2 miles and mostly flat.
2. Batteries to Bluffs Trail, San Francisco
From the Lands End Trail, head through the Sea Cliff neighborhood and down to China Beach, then Baker Beach. Take the sand ladder up to Lincoln Blvd (you can also start here), and then head down the path on your left, where you’ll reach the first set of batteries. From here, you’ll weave your way up and down the coastline. Stop at the smaller Marshall's Beach for the ultimate Golden Gate Bridge shot, climb the batteries, and take in breathtaking views the whole way through.
3. Mount Davidson, San Francisco
Climb 927 feet to the highest peak in San Francisco for more outstanding views. The park itself is laced with a few different trails, most offering a fairly leisurely 1-mile hike upward. Be sure to check out the 103-foot cross at the top—it's hard to miss.
4. The Presidio Promenade, San Francisco
There are several ways to weave your way through the Presidio. Try the Presidio Promenade—an easy 2.2-mile paved trail that starts at the Lombard Gate, passes by the San Francisco National Cemetery, and ends at the Golden Gate Bridge. Or the slightly longer Bay Area Ridge Trail, which starts at the Arguello Gate, leads you through the lush forest, pass the Spire sculpture made of Monterey cypress trunks, and all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.
5. Mount Sutro Open Space, San Francisco
From afar, Mount Sutro looks a bit intimidating, haunting even. In fact, it’s quite a hidden gem, with its uphill trail that weaves through a dense eucalyptus forest. Sometimes, the fog gets caught up here, and even though it can steal you from the views, it’s a magical experience in its own right. The whole loop is about 1.8 miles.
6. Steep Ravine Trail to Dipsea Trail Loop, Mt. Tamalpais
For this scenic and adventurous Mt. Tam hike, start at the Pan Toll Ranger Station and take the Steep Ravine Trail about 1.7 miles, then the Dipsea Trail for another 1.7 miles. From there, hop on the Old Mine Trail to get you back to your starting point in about 0.5 miles. Along the way, you’ll follow Webb Creek, pass wooden bridges, and even climb up a ladder. Throughout, you’ll be kept cool under a rich canopy of redwoods.
7. Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, Oakland
This preserve, home to the Round Top volcano, which rises up 1,763 feet, is one of the East Bay’s oldest parks. Take the Round Top Loop Trail, a 2.5-mile hike, which passes by eucalyptus and pine trees, two labyrinths, and… cows. At the top, take a long look down into the once active volcano’s interior.
8. Muir Woods from Deer Park Fire Road
Instead of battling the crowds at the National Monument, take a detour via the Deer Park Fire Road (the trailhead is just a little past the main parking lot for Muir Woods). Follow this road, then take a right at the Ben Johnson Trail. You’ll climb roughly 800 feet over the 4.3-mile loop, while catching glimpses of the Pacific (if it’s a clear day), and passing by towering redwoods and Douglas firs.
9. Verna Dunshee Trail to the top of Mt. Tamalpais
This is the easiest way to make it to the 2,570-foot peak of Mt. Tam for some of the finest views of Marin, San Francisco, and the East Bay. This 1.2-mile loop allows for a leisurely hike for all levels and ages.
10. Redwood Regional Park Loop, Oakland
Tucked in the hills east of Oakland, this park boasts spectacular coast redwoods. Starting at the Skyline Gate Staging Area, you can take several trails and loops around the area for a truly tranquil day hike.