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Hiking Glen Canyon Park

Glen Canyon Park is a 70-acre canyon sandwiched between neighborhoods in San Francisco. This 1.7-mile Glen Canyon Park hike is a dog-friendly hike that follows trails that wind down and around the canyon, scrabbling over dramatic rock outcroppings and diving into thick groves of Bay Trees at the bottom of the canyon.

Islais Creek, one of the few free-flowing creeks in San Francisco, flows through the canyon year round. Glen Canyon Park is also home to a lot animals including coyotes, hawks, garter snakes, and lizards. Melodic bird songs often drown out the sounds of traffic and other city noises, so hikers can feel like they’ve escaped the city for a little bit.

You can walk through Glen Canyon Park as part of a longer hike to Twin Peaks (look for the trail guide coming soon!), or you can just do a short loop around the canyon. I love this canyon and I usually walk the trails once a week as part of my grocery shopping routine. I pick-up the trailhead behind the Diamond Heights Safeway and get in a quick hike before I do my grocery shopping!

The hiking trails in Glen Canyon Park are well-signed, but it is easy to get turned around if you don’t know your way around the canyon. You can follow the map below or download my GPS tracks from Caltopo.

A dog-friendly 1.7-mile hike through Glen Canyon Park.

Hiking with Dogs in Glen Canyon Park

Glen Canyon Park is dog-friendly. Technically, dogs should be on leash in Glen Canyon Park, but many owners let their dogs run free on the trails. Since this park is also home to coyotes owners should keep a watchful eye on their pups when walking during dusk and the early morning hours. The park coyotes are especially active in the spring during coyote pupping season.

Glen Canyon Hiking Guide

This hike begins at Christopher Playground and ballpark, just behind the Diamond Heights Shopping Center on Diamond Heights Blvd, near the intersection with Duncan Street. Park in the large lot and walk behind the shopping center to get to the playground. You can find the trailhead behind the ball field, near third base.

Follow the trail down into the canyon and make a right when you reach a landing with a bench. Go down a few more stairs and make a right at the T. Stay straight and follow the narrow path as it curves around the canyon, passing another set of stairs.

When the trail splits, stay to the right to take the Coyote Crags Trail. Follow the rocky stairs up and enjoy the sweeping views of the canyon from the top of the crag before continuing straight. When the trail splits again make a left onto the Islais Creek Trail to head toward the Recreation Center.

The trail goes through a thicket of Bay Trees and the path is lined with ivy. Watch your head and your step as you duck under branches and step over large tree trunks. At the next trail junction stay straight to follow the Gum Tree Girls Trail towards the Recreation Center.

Parts of the Glen Canyon Park hiking trails go through tunnels of Bay Trees

Stay straight at the next junction and use the wooden boardwalk to follow Islais Creek. At the bottom of the canyon, small blue damselflies buzz around the creek and blue jays and other birds hop from branch to branch. Shortly after the boardwalk ends make a left and climb the stairs to Coyote Crags.

Stay straight and keep climbing the stairs until you reach the large rocks at the top and stay straight at the signed junction to continue on the Coyote Crags Trail to the Recreation Center.

Go down the short flight of stairs between the dramatic rock formations and when the path splits take the upper trail on the left to stay on the Coyote Crags Trail. Stay straight on this trail until it dead-ends into a wood and gravel staircase that leads directly to the Glen Canyon Recreation Center. Take the stairs down toward the Recreation Center.

Dramatic rock formations at Glen Canyon Park in San Francisco

If you need to make a pit stop, the Glen Canyon Recreation Center has public bathrooms, and an indoor rock climbing wall and basketball court. If you don’t need a pit stop continue straight on the fire road passing the the grassy picnic area on your left.

At the end of the fire road make a left at the Y and use a small paved bridge to cross the creek before making a right to follow the trail past some small redwood trees. You are now walking through a tunnel of Bay Trees that run along Islais Creek. Shortly after crossing a small wood footbridge stay straight at the trail intersection and go up the stairs to head toward Christopher Playground. Stay straight and continue to follow signs for Christopher Playground.

When you reach a junction with stairs, head left and climb the stairs following signs for Turquoise Street. At the top of the stairs make a right to pick up the paved path that leads back to the playground and the trailhead.

Stairs leading through an Eucalyptus Grove in Glen Canyon Park.

The Trailhead

This hike begins at Christopher Playground and ballpark, just behind the Diamond Heights Shopping Center on Diamond Heights Blvd, near the intersection with Duncan Street. Park in the large lot and walk behind the shopping center to get to the playground. You can find the trailhead behind the ball field, near third base.

The Route

Use the Coyote Crags Trail to wind around the canyon before dropping into the bottom of the canyon and following the Islais Creek Trail and the Gum Tree Girls Trail to walk along the creek. Shortly after crossing a wooden boardwalk climb the stairs to pick-up the Coyote Crags Trail again to walk along the edge of the canyon. When you reach the Glen Canyon Recreation Center follow the fire road to head back to Islais Creek. When the trail splits use the cement bridge to cross the creek and follow the trail to the right. Walk along the creek again before following sighs for Christopher Playground and climbing a series of stairs to return tot he trailhead.

Other Details

Free parking

Dog-friendly hike

Restrooms available at the Glen Canyon Recreation Center

Trail Safety

Like all outdoor pursuits, hiking can be dangerous. It is up to you to assess your fitness level and education yourself about any potential dangers. While I try to regularly update these hiking guides, you should always research trail conditions before heading out.

Being prepared means arriving at the trailhead with water and some basic provisions. Each and every time I hit the trail I bring a backpack with more water than I think I need, a small first aid kit, and a snack. I also share my itinerary and plans with friends or family and I carry an InReach so I can summon help if needed. If you want to know what I carry in my pack during day hikes check out my blog post about essential gear for day hikers.

Stay safe, enjoy the trail, and soak up the magic of nature!

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