By Dr. Eric Eisenman
One of the best ways to incorporate exercise into your dog’s life and your own is to take a hike. Fortunately for Bay Area pet parents, there are many dog-friendly hikes in San Francisco if you know where to look.
Dogs naturally have a ton of energy, and it’s important to incorporate enough exercise into their routine to keep them happy and healthy. Adequate exercise and play can have many benefits for your dog, including reduced anxiety, better sleep, and, if other dogs are present, social skills. Exercise also has physical benefits such as helping your dog stay in shape and reducing digestive issues. Dog-friendly hikes in San Francisco can be hard to come by if you’re new to the area or new to hiking in general—thankfully we’ve got you covered.
Bernal Heights Park offers a moderate, one-mile loop hike on a former rock quarry. This is one San Francisco hike where dogs are permitted to freely walk off-leash. We recommend visiting on cooler days because there isn’t much shade. On the Carver Street side of the hike, you’ll find a swing hanging from a tree, overlooking San Francisco. CRISSY FIELD
For some dogs, and for some owners, long or uphill hikes are too strenuous. Take an easy, beachy walk at Crissy Field, a 130-acre park in the Presidio. While the beach has designated off-leash areas, be vigilant of unpredictable waves, and keep a close watch if your dog decides to go for a swim.
At 938 feet, Mount Davidson is the highest natural peak in San Francisco, offering astounding and scenic views of the bay and the city. The 1.5-mile loop stands as a reasonable hike for owner and dog alike. While leashed dogs are allowed, there are no water stations or trash cans along the trail, so be sure to bring your own water and doggy bags. MARIN HEADLANDS
Consider heading out of the city to Marin County Headlands in the North Bay for famous views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. There’s also an outstanding trail loop about six miles long. There are three main dog-friendly areas for a great hike with your dog: the Coastal Trail, the Wolf Ridge Loop, and Rodeo Beach. Dogs must be leashed on the trails, but they can run and play leash-free on Rodeo Beach. GLEN CANYON PARK
You’ll find three different trails at Glen Canyon Park: Coyote Crags Trail, Gum Tree Girls Trail, and Islais Creek Trail. Take a close look, and maybe a picture, of the green sign and map at the entrance of the park—it will show you which parts of the trails are easy, moderate, and challenging so that you can tailor your outing to owner and pet’s personal needs. FORT FUNSTON
Fort Funston boasts trails of varying length, ranging from easy to moderate. If you are adventurous and want a steeper trail, head down the trail to Funston Beach. There, you’ll find breathtaking, off-leash areas for your dog to run and play. STRAWBERRY HILL
Within Golden Gate Park is Strawberry Hill, a 412-feet hill in the middle of Stow Lake. Near the top of Strawberry Hill, you can hike up and enjoy Huntington Falls. Toward the southern part of the hill, you can visit Rainbow Falls. Golden Gate Park itself has a ton of nooks and crannies to explore, and you will find water fountains and trash cans throughout the park. It truly is one of the many dog-friendly hikes in San Francisco.
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