Last Updated on January 2, 2021 by Paroma
A Local Dog Mom’s Guide to Dog friendly hikes in Bay Area
When it comes to dog friendly outdoor adventures, you will be spoiled for choice amongst the many dog friendly hikes in Bay Area. As dog parents, we have experienced many beautiful Bay Area hikes with dogs thanks to the abundance of dog friendly hiking trails in this region. Besides a lot of dog friendly parks in San Francisco where you can hike with your dogs, there are many other beautiful trails for dog friendly hiking in the Bay Area that you can enjoy all year round.
I hope pet parents or people visiting Northern California with their dogs will find this post on Bay Area dog hikes helpful as part of enjoying a new city with their canine companion. As an added bonus for visitors, I have also included a handy map at the end of the post which shows all these dog friendly hiking trails mentioned here.
Batteries to Bluffs Trail overlook
Bay Area hikes with dogs # 1: The Presidio of San Francisco
San Francisco’s green Presidio, once an army outpost, has many dog friendly hiking trails. You can hike along the famous Batteries to Bluffs trail that leads all the way up to Marshall’s beach from where you get a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge (dogs are not allowed on the beach but Baker beach is nearby and is dog friendly).
The other dog friendly hiking trail in the Presidio is the Mountain lake trail accessible from the Lyon street steps entrance. You can stop to take in further gorgeous views of the cityscape or hike forward to a grove of arching trees and the further onto a beautifully paved way known as the Lover’s Lane.
There are many other trails for dog friendly hikes in San Francisco (download a cheatsheet to the best dog friendly spots in SF) starting from the Presidio’s inspiration point. Simply walk down the steps next to the overlook and get on to the Ecology trail which criss crosses with several other trails as you hike onwards.
Lovers Lane, Presidio of San Francisco
Dog Friendly Hikes in Bay Area # 2: Inspiration Point, Orinda
Inspiration Point in Tilden Regional Park, Orinda (East Bay), is the highest elevation in the park and is a hillock really from where you can get a beautiful view of the San Pablo reservoir snaking through the mountains. Inspiration point is located along the Wildcat Canyon road which is a paved road good for hiking and is one of the most popular dog friendly hikes in Bay Area.
We visited the park on a hot summer afternoon (you do have to hike quite a bit under the open sun so be prepared) but were quite taken aback by the gusty wind atop Inspiration Point. It is one nearly vertical climb to the top and you can either walk down the same path or hike down another winding trail that meets the main wildcat canyon road.
At the top of Inspiration point, Orinda
Hiking in Bay Area with dogs # 3: Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve, San Francisco
Looking for some dog friendly hiking in San Francisco? Then check out Mt. Sutro open space reserve which is 80 acres of 100 yr old forest planted by Adolph Sutro, former mayor of the city. 61 acres of this land is now maintained by UCSF and this lush green space has lots of trails of dog friendly hiking trails. The trail head starts from Cole Valley, a beautiful neighborhood in the southern part of the city.
This is one of the most beautiful and secluded spots for dog friendly hiking in the Bay Area because not only is there so much greenery to greet you, but the canopy of trees provides that much needed shade for hiking! Here is an updated article on hiking at Mt. Sutro with more information on hiking trails that allow dogs and the trail head.
Hiking in Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve
Dog friendly hiking trails in Bay Area #4: California Coastal and Land’s End Trails, San Francisco
These are two fantastic dog friendly hiking trails nestled in the Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco, with the 4.4 mile coastal trail starting from near Land’s End (adjacent to Sutro Bath house ruins/Point Lobos) and ending at the Golden Gate Bridge, passing by many attractions on its way. The trail bifurcates into two, one meeting the Land’s End trail and the other continuing on to the Golden Gate Bridge at the Presidio via El Camino Del Mar and Lincoln Blvd.
This trail reveals beautiful vistas of the coastline and leads to one of the two hidden beaches in San Francisco (dog friendly) and the Land’s End labyrinth, one of the several Instagram worthy spots in the city. Dogs are allowed on leash here.
Next, comes the picturesque 3.5 miles of Land’s End trail that is a short walk away from the colorful Lincoln Park Steps at California Street and 33rd Avenue across the Lincoln Park golf course.
This is also a scenic trail (albeit narrow) and has several outlook points revealing amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Dogs are allowed on leash here as well.
Land’s End trail (above) and Land’s End labyrinth along the Coastal trail (below)
Dog Hikes in the Bay Area # 5: Dawn Falls Trail, Larkspur
Head over to Larkspur, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, for a peaceful trip to wilderness in the lush and tranquil Baltimore Canyon. Although there are several trails crisscrossing this area, the most popular perhaps is the Dawn Falls trail to its namesake falls and back.
This is a short trail (about 1.1 miles) and is one of the most tranquil dog friendly hiking trails in the Bay Area. The falls are best visited in Spring when they are in full force after our winter rains. The trail is shaded by a dense canopy of trees and is of moderate difficulty.
Dawn Falls Trail, Larkspur
Dog Friendly Hikes in the Bay Area # 6: Muir Beach Overlook
The Golden Gate national recreation area is extremely strict when it comes to dog-friendly places in Marin headlands since most of these spots are conservation areas for wildlife, with dogs being natural predators. For example, dogs are not allowed in Muir Woods, the crazy popular Redwood grove near San Francisco.
One exception, however, is the beautiful Muir beach lookout point/overlook which has fantastic views of the coastline and has some of the dog friendly hikes in Bay Area. The coastal trails overlooking the ocean allow dogs on leash. There is a small parking lot at the entryway to the lookout with steps leading up to it.
The winding trail that takes off from the very right of the landing (parking area) runs all the way up to Slide ranch, an educational farm which conducts summer camps and family programs to connect children and adults to sustainable farming (visits are by appointment only and dogs are not allowed). Beyond this, the trail leads all the way up to Stinson beach, another wildly popular and dog-friendly beach in Marin.
Muir Beach overlook
Dog Friendly Hiking in Bay Area # 7: Cataract and Cascade Falls
These two waterfalls are a short driving distance from San Francisco and have scenic dog friendly hiking trails leading to the falls. Cataract falls hike begins at Mount Tamalpais and is the only hiking trail here that allows dogs, albeit on leash. The cataract falls marin county trail head, starts from the junction of east and west Ridgecrest leads to its namesake.
This dog friendly Bay Area hike is a 6.4 miles loop from the trailhead to the falls, and the trail is partly covered with regions of light (via open fields) and shade. As usual, the best time to visit this falls is during late winter/early spring and summer.
Cascade Falls lies in Mill Valley, a charming town in Marin county. This hike to the falls is moderately strenuous but watch out for the loose rocks. This is a popular dog friendly hiking trail in the Bay Area and is completely shaded thanks to a dense overhead canopy.
Cascade Falls, Mill Valley
Bay Area dog hikes # 8: Old St. Hilary’s open space preserve in Tiburon
This hike up a hillock/open space in Tiburon with spectacular views of the Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco and Angel island is undoubtedly one of the most scenic dog friendly hiking trails in the Bay Area. The other great thing about it is that it is pretty empty with only one or two enthusiastic locals around.
The dog friendly hike in Marin county is a pretty moderate one and the view keeps on getting better as you walk up. Tiburon, one of the many beautiful places to visit in California in winter, is easily accessible from San Francisco via short 25-30 minute drive and the open space reserve itself can be accessed from several points, one of which has a beautiful wooden chapel at its entrance. You can read all the details in my post here about the hike in Tiburon and dog friendly restaurants to enjoy a bite at after the hike.
Hiking in Tiburon
Map of all the Dog friendly Bay Area hiking trails
As promised, here are all the trailheads, locations and landmarks (near the trailheads) for the Bay Area dog hikes and dog friendly hiking trails mentioned in the post. Happy exploring!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and are already planning some epic Bay Area hikes with your dogs in the coming months. There are a lot of dog friendly hikes in Bay Area, so please take your pup along with you to enjoy the beauty of California’s outdoors! Follow all of Babu’s adventures in California right here!
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