If you’re working in San Francisco, the most expensive city for business travelers in the U.S., you might need a place to get out for some free or low-cost self-powered entertainment. The good news: The City by the Bay has no shortage of hiking trails to hit in your off hours. Our partners at ForRent.com compiled this guide to five of the best hikes in the city, from tourist favorites to locals-only gems.
Probably the most famed hiking spot in the city, Twin Peaks (Noe and Eureka peak, respectively) features stunning 360-degree views of the city. Though many tour buses drive visitors close to the peak to avoid too much of a workout, the real satisfaction comes from scaling the entire trail. In a 64-acre park at the top, visitors can enjoy a glimpse of the native grassland that used to blanket much of pre-development San Francisco.
One of the city’s most cherished hiking spots, this 3.5-mile loop features vistas of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, making it a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Two notable features are access to the Sutro Baths, a modern “ruin” of a turn-of-the-century theme park; and the labyrinth, an art installation designed by Eduardo Aguilera and rebuilt in 2015 after it was destroyed by vandals. Wait for a clear day to visit since the Bay Area’s famous fog can render this coastal region virtually unnavigable.
Located within Golden Gate Park, Strawberry Hill holds court smack in the center of Stow Lake. With the highest point in the park at 400-plus feet, this hike provides beautiful vistas of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and the park itself. To access the island, simply cross at Rustic Bridge or Roman Bridge, which are located on opposite sides of the lake.
Extensive work has made this once-overgrown route the new spot to hike in SF. Winding its way above University of California San Francisco, the trail hugs the northern edge of the mountain, giving the hiker stunning vistas of Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge. Originally called Mount Parnassus, space was renamed for former Mayor Adolph Sutro after he donated the land to UCSF.
Not a traditional hike, this is a series of steep, sandy trails that lead down to the beach, making it an ideal workout. Formerly a military base, the area features newly constructed lookouts as well as structures related to its former life. Make sure to check out the steep sandstone cliffs that are home to hundreds of swallows.