Best Nature Trails in San Francisco Bay Area

Northern California holds a wealth of natural wonders and thousands of miles of scenic trails. Here are five of the most memorable in San Francisco, within a short drive (or ferry ride).


Best of Trails in San Francisco Bay Area


Sunset Trail | Angel Island State Park

San Francisco Bay's largest island offers spectacular 360-degree views, an easy three-hour hike, and amenities such as bathrooms and picnic tables. Angel Island's Sunset Trail takes you to the top of Mount Livermore, the island's highest point, where you'll find spectacular views of the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco's skyline. Unless you have your own boat, you must take one of the two or three ferries operated daily by Blue and Gold Fleet from Pier 41 to the island, which is open 8 a.m. until sunset. This hike is good for the entire family, except dogs are not allowed.


Coast Trail | Point Reyes

Coast Trail from Palomarin Trailhead to Alamere Falls is a moderately difficult, 7.5-mile hike along the coast of Marin County and just to the north of San Francisco. But it rewards you with one of the Bay Area's most reliably falling and dramatic waterfalls. Alamere Falls cascades directly onto the beach below. You'll need either a car or horse to access the trailhead.


Dipsea Trail | Mount Tamalpais State Park

Not for beginners or small children, the Dipsea Trail in Mount Tamalpais State Park from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, begins with a climb up the nearly 700 steps of the infamous Dipsea stairs, takes you through the awe-inspiring redwood trees of Muir Woods and leaves you at the Pacific Ocean. It will take several hours to travel this popular but challenging 9.5-mile trail from point to point.


Coastal Trail at Land's End | San Francisco

Without leaving city limits, you can experience windswept cypresses and cliffs meeting crashing ocean waves at Land's End. The gentle Coastal Trail begins at the Land's End Lookout parking lot, travels along the coastline and ends at Eagle’s Point Overlook, a popular vista point. Dogs are permitted on this 1.5-mile trail.


Mitchell Canyon-Eagle Peak Loop | East Bay

Across the Bay Bridge is one of the East Bay's most distinctive landmarks, Mount Diablo, towering more than 3,800 feet. Inside the Mount Diablo State Park, is one of San Francisco/Bay Area's best nature trails - Mitchell Canyon-Eagle Peak Loop. Access the park by car through several entrances in Contra Costa County. Choose from day-long or shorter trails. An entire range of difficulty levels is available. Wildlife and wildflowers abound. Reaching the summit rewards you with a view that stretches to 200 miles on a clear day.