Dog-friendly Hiking Trails Near San Francisco
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These scenic dog-friendly hiking trails near San Francisco promise to be a big hit with your four-legged hiking companion. All of the trails on this list are within a 30-minute drive from San Francisco. The dog-friendly hikes range from easy jaunts to challenging workouts.
Cataract Falls in Marin
The dog-friendly, six-mile Cataract Falls hike near Mount Tamalpais is a waterfall wonderland. This is a stair-stepping, butt-busting challenging trail that rewards visitors with over 2-miles of waterfalls. The trail follows Cataract Creek as it cascades down Mount Tamalpais and flows into Alpine Lake. This is a pleasant hike year-round, but its full beauty unfurls in the wet months. In winter and spring the ferns are lush, trees are fuzzy with moss, the waterfalls gush, and wildflowers are abundant. As the year progresses the vegetation recoils and the Maple trees glow with autumn hues.
Lands End Coastal Trail in San Francisco
Tourists flock to the Lands End Coastal Trail for views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands, but dogs love this trail too! Many people choose to do this hike as a shorter out-and-back hike, but active dogs love the varied terrain in this 3.5-mile loop. The dirt path begins at Sutro Baths and hikers pass by several scenic viewpoints before discovering Mile Rock Beach, traversing through groves of Eucalyptus, and winding through a hidden historic battery.
Water Dog Lake in Belmont
There are always happy hiking dogs on this 3.6-mile trail in Belmont. This easily customizable route consists of two loops. The shorter inner loop is a heavily forested trail that follows the shoreline of Water Dog Lake in the lower canyon. While many owners allow their dogs to swim in the pond, the water can be mossy and green and may not be healthy for dogs. It is still enjoyable to sit on the bench or walk the short pier and watch the ducks swimming.
The sunny outer loop (Lake Loop Trail and John Brooks Trail) is a wide trail popular with both hikers and mountain bikers. The trail winds along the upper part of the canyon and gets a fair bit of sun and can get quite hot in the summer months. While portions of the outer loop are shaded, the majority of the trail does not have shade.
Sweeney Ridge in Pacifica
On a clear day Sweeney Ridge offers hikers sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay and the stunning coastline and Pacific Ocean. This challenging 7.2-mile ridgeline walk in Pacifica also features a Nike Missile site and the San Francisco Bay Discovery site. The trail is a mix of steep gravel fire roads, paved paths, and narrow single-tracks that traverse through the coastal scrub. Depending on the season, hikers may even be lucky enough to see a rabbit or two dart across the trail. Hikers can access the trail via several different trailheads, but my personal favorite is the entrance behind Shelldance Orchid Gardens.
Adobe Creek Loop at Palo Alto Baylands
With over 1900 acres of protected bayside marshland, the dog-friendly Adobe Creek trail at Palo Alto Baylands is a destination for birdwatchers and families. The flat, 7-mile path begins at the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center and loops around the Palo Alto Baylands salt marshes and mud flats. If you want a shorter stroll, opt for the 2.7-mile Byxbee Hills and Mayfield Slough walk.
The scenery in The Baylands tidal marsh changes with the tides, but the bird watching is always wonderful, especially during migration season. A good portion of the Palo Alto Baylands Adobe Creek Trail runs between two sloughs, giving hikers opportunities for bird watching on both sides of the trail. On one side of the trail you might see hundreds of ducks happily swimming and quacking up a storm in the slow moving water, while on the opposite side of the trail Sand Pipers daintily prod the mud flats with their beak.
Devil’s Slide Trail near Montara
Is whale watching with your dog your idea of the perfect afternoon? Then head to Devil’s Slide Trail for an easy 3.5 miles out-and-back coastal walk. The dog-friendly paved path hidden between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay is popular with both walkers and bicyclists. With epic views year round, the Devil’s Slide Trail that runs along the old Hwy 1 is the perfect place for whale watching on a clear day. The trail sits high above the bluffs and walkers are treated to stunning views and the soothing sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below. On a sunny day you might be lucky enough to spot a migrating Grey or Humpback whale breaching or showing off its flukes as it dives deep into the ocean. The many benches scattered along the path make this the perfect place to rest, enjoy the views, and soak up a bit of sun.
Glen Canyon Park in San Francisco
You don’t need to leave the city to find some great dog-friendly hiking trails. Glen Canyon Park is a 70-acre canyon sandwiched between the Glen Park and Diamond Heights neighborhoods in San Francisco. This 1.7-mile Glen Canyon Park hike is a dog-friendly hiking trail that scrabbles over dramatic rock outcroppings and dives into thick groves of Bay Trees at the bottom of the canyon. As you cross Islais Creek, one of the few free-flowing creeks in San Francisco, you might forget that you are still in the middle of the city.
Tips for Hiking with Your Dog
From dog-friendly first aid kits to paw care, if you're new to hiking with your dog check out or blog post with seven essential tips for hiking with your dog.
What are you waiting for? Take your best buddy on a nature-filled hiking adventure!
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