California, specially San Francisco Bay Area, has no dearth of hiking trails that allow dogs. Thanks to being parents to one, we have experienced many beautiful Bay Area hikes with dogs and I will be sharing some of our favorite dog friendly hikes in San Francisco and surroundings in this post. I hope pet parents or people visiting Northern California with their dogs will find this post on dog friendly hiking trails in Bay Area helpful as part of enjoying a new city with their canine companion. Please remember to be responsible on these bay area hikes with your dog. Obey posted signs and leash rules at all times and PLEASE pick up after your dog to keep these dog friendly hikes in the Bay Area enjoyable for everyone! Finally, a lot of dog friendly parks in San Francisco are also perfect venues that allow for dog friendly hikes, do check them out all in this blog post on dog friendly spots to visit in SF for valuable information on where to take your dog hiking in the city! If you are new to hiking, do read about these hiking tips for newbies!
Dog Friendly Hikes, San Francisco # 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) or simply enter from the Lyon street steps entrance and get onto the Mountain lake trail that will take you down a winding dirt trail right into the heart of the Presidio. 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 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.
Dog Friendly Hikes, 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 hiking trails in the 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.
Bay Area hikes with dogs # 3: Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve, San Francisco
Mt. Sutro open space reserve is 80 acres of 100 yr old forest planted by Adolf Sutro, former mayor of San Francisco. 61 acres of this land is now maintained by UCSF and this lush green space has lots 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 dog friendly hikes in San Francisco 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.
Dog Friendly Hiking Trails, Bay Area # 4: 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. It’s a short trail (about 1.1 miles) and is one of the most tranquil dog friendly hikes 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.
Dog Friendly Hikes in the Bay Area # 5: Muir Beach Lookout
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 which has fantastic views of the coastline and has dog friendly hiking trails in the Bay Area. Read my Muir Beach blog post for more details on our experience on our Bay Area hike with our dogs there.
Dog Friendly Hiking spot # 6: 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. You can read all about these two beautiful dog friendly hiking trails in the Bay Area in my previous post which has information on trail heads, hiking trails and nearby places to grab a bite after your hike.
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 San Francisco and beyond, so please do take some time to get your pup acquainted with the beauty of California’s outdoors!
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