What are the Best Urban Hikes in and Around San Francisco?

Do you want to stay active on your visit to San Francisco? If you’re a fan of putting on your walking shoes and hitting the trails, you’re in luck — the City by the Bay has an incredible collection of urban hiking routes.

From strenuous hikes with jaw-dropping views to more leisurely strolls along the coast, there’s something for everyone. San Francisco’s urban hikes are a great way to find new perspectives of the city, which is where they’re equally popular with visitors and locals.

When you combine active, independent exploration with our San Francisco tours, you can enjoy the complete visitor experience. That’s because many of our excursions are led by experienced local guides — and when they aren’t, you can plug into outstanding audio guides!

Do you have any questions for the Inc Adventures team? Please get in touch for all the information you need. 

Now, though, let’s jump into our picks for the best urban hikes in and around San Francisco!

Twin Peaks: Conquer San Francisco’s Iconic Twins

Our adventure begins with an iconic duo, the Twin Peaks. These two prominent hills, “Eureka” and “Noe”, offer vantage points like no other. Whichever summit you choose, you’ll be over 900 feet above sea level! From this perch above the city, you can take in epic panoramic views.

Start your hike at Christmas Tree Point, near the Twin Peaks Reservoir, and follow the paved path that leads to the summit. It’s worth noting that the hike to your chosen summit will be short and steep, around three-quarters of a mile — but you can extend the route but climbing both!

Along the way, you’ll be surrounded by native flora and fauna, including wildflowers, eucalyptus trees, and even an occasional hawk soaring overhead. 

As you ascend, the view unfolds before you, with the cityscape and shimmering bay at your feet. The best times to visit are early morning or just before sunset, when the city lights come alive, and the skyline is painted in shades of gold and orange.

Take a moment to savor the breathtaking view of San Francisco, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge, and everything in between. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or a photography buff, Twin Peaks is a must-visit on your San Francisco adventure.

San Francisco downtown view from Mt Davidson, California

Mount Davidson: The Tallest Natural Point in San Francisco

Mount Davidson, located in the heart of the city, is often overlooked by tourists but cherished by locals in the know. Standing at 928 feet, it’s the highest peak in San Francisco, and it offers a peaceful and secluded urban hiking experience.

Starting from the base, you’ll find a network of trails that lead to the summit. We recommend either the Juanita Trail on the west side or the Dalewood/Myra Trail on the south side.

The dense tree cover and serene ambiance make you feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city, especially when the summer fog rolls in! As you make your way up, you’ll encounter diverse wildlife, including red-tailed hawks and deer.

The true gem of Mount Davidson is the giant cross at the summit, visible from many parts of the city. Standing at 103 feet, it’s a symbol of San Francisco’s history and a place for quiet reflection. 

The peak offers wonderful views of the city, and it’s an ideal spot for a picnic or some soul-soothing meditation. This is another short but uphill hike, clocking in at a little less than a mile.

Tank Hill: A Hidden Hiking Gem in the Heart of San Francisco

Next up, we have Tank Hill, an underrated gem tucked away in the Ashbury Heights neighborhood. Another short and uphill hike, this modest mound might not be as grand as the Twin Peaks or Mount Davidson, but it offers a peaceful, intimate hiking experience.

The hike starts at Belgrave Avenue, and you’ll find a well-maintained trail leading to the top. Towering eucalyptus trees and diverse birdlife add to the charm of this mini-adventure. Once at the summit, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking views of the city, including the picturesque Golden Gate Bridge framed by the city’s architecture.

Tank Hill’s intimate atmosphere makes it an excellent spot for a romantic stroll or a quiet getaway from the city’s urban chaos.

While this list of the best urban hikes in San Francisco is filled with exceptional viewpoints for first-class photos, the Bay Area has far more to offer. 

Buena Vista Park: Explore Another Natural Neighborhood Wonderland

Buena Vista Park, nestled in the Haight-Ashbury district, is the oldest official park in San Francisco, and it’s an urban hiking treasure trove. Lush with trees and winding trails, it’s a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

Hike the well-maintained trails that crisscross the park, and you’ll discover a serene retreat with diverse flora and fauna. The park’s towering eucalyptus groves and winding paths create a mystical, forested vibe that’s a stark contrast to the city surrounding it.

You can find stunning views of the city from various points in the park, so there are plenty of pockets for solitude and contemplation. Buena Vista Park is perfect for a leisurely walk or an exploration of San Francisco’s natural side, all while being right in the heart of the city.

If you want to extend your active adventure, you can move on to the neighboring Corona Heights Park.
And check out our tips for the top five neighborhoods to visit in San Francisco if you want to explore even more corners of this unique city.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

Land’s End: An Adventure Along San Francisco’s Rugged Coastline

At the very edge of the city, the Land’s End trail awaits. If you’re looking for some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, not to mention spectacular coastal vistas, this beautiful urban hike in Lincoln Park is a must-do.

Beginning at the Land’s End Lookout, this trail winds its way along the edge of the city, offering awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands. 

As you walk the well-paved trail, you’ll encounter historic landmarks like the ruins of the Sutro Baths, adding a touch of heritage to your adventure. If you want to explore more of the city’s fascinating past, check out our recommendations for the most historical places to visit In San Francisco.

Land’s End is particularly mesmerizing during sunset, when the sun dips below the horizon, casting warm hues over the crashing waves and dramatic cliffs. It’s a fantastic spot for both hiking and photography, so make sure to pack your camera.

The loop is a touch over three miles and covers uneven terrain, so there are plenty of ups and downs to negotiate. If you want to continue walking, you can head to the Golden Gate Bridge through the Presidio of San Francisco in one direction, or to Golden Gate Park via Ocean Beach in the other.

The Coit tower, an Art Deco monument in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Aerial view at sunset over the city of San Francisco.

Coit Tower at Telegraph Hill: A Stairway to Scenic Bliss in San Francisco

Perched atop Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower is an iconic San Francisco landmark, and the hike to reach it is an urban adventure on its own. Starting from the Embarcadero, you’ll ascend the Filbert Street Steps or Greenwich Street Steps, which are lined with beautiful gardens and captivating views.

Once you reach the top, the reward is a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. You can spot landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Transamerica Pyramid from this vantage point. You can also take an elevator to the top of the tower.

Coit Tower itself is also a work of art, housing murals that depict San Francisco’s history. And listen out for the famous parrots in the trees who have carved out their own little piece of city real estate!

Is your time in San Francisco on the shorter side? Read our sample San Francisco 2-day itinerary to find out more about the kind of unforgettable experiences you can fit into 48 hours!

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with beautiful blue ocean in background

Golden Gate Promenade: An Iconic Stroll by the Bridge

No trip to San Francisco is complete without witnessing the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge up close. The Land’s End Trail offers outstanding views on one side, while the Golden Gate Promenade sets a stage on the other.

However, the promenade, in the Presidio of San Francisco, allows you to get much closer to the mile-wide bridge. The entire route is relaxed and scenic, providing amazing views in all directions, including the city skyline and the bay.

Beginning at Crissy Field, you’ll follow the promenade as it hugs the shoreline, with stunning photo opportunities at every turn. The bridge looms large and imposing, while sailboats and sea birds create a lively atmosphere.

Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll or a more brisk walk, this urban hike allows you to soak in the city’s most famous icon from various angles.

When you’ve worked up an appetite tackling any of these hikes, consider visiting one of our picks for the best restaurants in San Francisco with outdoor seating.

San Francisco cityscape at sunset

Discover the City by the Bay with Our San Francisco Tours

So, what are the best urban hikes in and around San Francisco? That’s for you to decide now! We hope our recommendations have inspired you to take in as many perspectives of this incredible city as possible.

And when you want to venture into the heart of the city, to connect with its culture, history, and heritage, look no further than our San Francisco tours. They’re the perfect way to discover the most popular and most famous areas and attractions.
If you have any questions for us about any of our tours in San Francisco, please don’t hesitate to contact us.