Cities can often be intimidating to people and pets. But if you are visiting San Francisco, the fabled fog city by the bay, rest assured that you and your pooch will have a “paw”some time. Not only does San Fran have dog friendly parks, restaurants, stores and hotels, it has some amazing hiking spots – right in the middle of the city! We’re giving you the inside scoop on our five favorite dog friendly hiking spots, all of which we’ve explored with Babu, our furry bundle of joy.
Dog Friendly Hiking in San Francisco
1. Mount Davidson Park
Located in the quiet neighborhood of Diamond Heights, Mt. Davidson Park offers acres of greenery at 938 feet – the highest natural point in the city. Add a curtain of fog that usually hangs around the eucalyptus trees, and you will find yourself transported to a “Lord of the Rings” type forest, mystical and charming.
There are many dog friendly hiking trails and once you get to the top, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the city. Below you’ll see rows of the candy-colored homes that make San Francisco famous. A 103-foot tall concrete cross tears through the fog at the very summit of the park, adding to the mystery.
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2. Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve
Mt. Sutro Open Reserve is one of San Francisco’s the best kept secrets. With one of the trailheads lying between two houses at 17th and Stanyan Streets in Cole Valley, it’s easy to miss!
This meandering, dog friendly hiking trail will take you right through the reserve, a 61-acre ecological haven maintained by the neighboring University of California – San Francisco. Filled with dense vegetation and tall trees, it’s shady trails are a hiker’s delight on both sunny and foggy days.
3. Bernal Hills
San Francisco’s favorite hillock is located in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. It’s a fantastic place to burn those quads as you huff and puff up the sloping terrain with your pooch. The near 360 degree panorama of the city will make all the pain melt away as you reach the top. Stop to enjoy view and cooling down as the gentle breeze caresses your face.
Bernal Hills is another extremely dog friendly place, and leash-free pups often play together at the very top. Be sure to take your camera on this great hike with one of the best views of the city!
You can’t talk about dog friendly hiking in San Francisco without including the Presidio. Once a military outpost for the city, the Presidio leads to the Golden Gate Bridge and is home to several dog friendly trails. This is also where you’ll find Baker Beach – the local dogs’ favorite spot of sand.
You can start your descent into the hiking trail from Inspiration point. Or better still, follow signs for the Batteries to Bluffs Trail that will reveal gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. The hiking is moderately strenuous with some areas having steep steps or loose rocks, so please wear appropriate hiking gear.
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5. Grand View Park
As the name suggests, Grand View park in Inner Sunset offers a majestic outlook of the city skyline, Sutro Tower, the shimmering waters of the Pacific, and the Golden Gate Bridge. But what makes the hike to the top so fascinating are the stairs (16th Street and Moraga Avenue) leading to it. Completely covered in colored tiles, the stairway was constructed and is maintained by the neighborhood community.
The mosaic patterns on the stairs are not only breathtaking and intricate, but also glow in the dark, making them even more enchanting at dusk. This is another fun-filled hiking adventure for you and your pup, and the photo-ops are fantastic on the prettiest stairs around! Don’t forget to bring a jacket – things get pretty windy on the top.
I hope you’ll try a few of our favorite dog friendly hiking trails in San Francisco when you’re visiting my city with your best friend! If there’s one you particularly enjoy, please share it in the comments!
About the Author: Paroma Chakravarty is a scientist by day, and blogger by night, who lives in the beautiful city of San Francisco with her husband and their Tibetan spaniel mix, Babu. She records their adventures plus dining experiences and her travel travails on her blog, yrofthemonkey.com, Facebook, and Instagram. All photos in this post belong to Paroma.