Dog-friendly Hiking Trails Near San Francisco
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.
LANDS END COASTAL TRAIL
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.
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.
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.
WATER DOG LAKE
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.
DEVIL’S SLIDE TRAIL
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.
If you need tips for hiking with your dog check out our blog post. What are you waiting for? Take your best buddy on a nature-filled hiking adventure!
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