7 Awesome Hikes Within 2 Hours of SF (No Car Required)
So it finally happened. You got the boot on your car thanks to all those unpaid parking tickets you’d been meaning to get around to. We feel your pain. Now you’ve decided to ditch the good ole Honda. The only problem? You’ll have to find another way of getting across the bridge to all those hikes you love. Well, the good news is that there are plenty of spots you can get to by BART, Caltrain or ferry. Trail time is on.
LANDS END TRAIL (RIGHT IN SF)
You don’t even have to leave the city for this oldie but goodie, which we’d say is one of the best urban hikes around. Try the Coastal Trail east to the Mile Rock Beach offshoot. Make the one-mile out-and-back trek at dusk for a truly contemplative hike. You can even bring Sprinkles along for the jaunt…just keep him on his leash.
How to get there: Take the 38 Geary bus and get off at 48th Avenue.
ANGEL ISLAND LOOP (45 MINUTES FROM SF)
The bay’s largest island is often overlooked, but it’s got 12 miles of mostly easy hiking trails to explore. We recommend the five-mile fire road, which circles the island, for views of the city skyline, Marin Headlands and Golden Gate Bridge. You can even extend your walk to the island’s peak via Northridge Trail if you’re badass like that.
How to get there: Take a Blue & Gold Fleet ferry from the Ferry Building or Pier 41.
SAUSALITO STAIRWAY WALK (30 MINUTES FROM SF)
Leave all the tourists on Bridgeway and opt for this hike through the picturesque seaside town. Sausalito is covered with hidden stairways, but our favorite is Excelsior Lane (right next to the Wells Fargo across Bridgeway from the ferry stop). Follow the steps past craftsman-style houses hugging the cliffs. Hang a left at San Carlos Avenue, then head up Cooper Lane. Keep winding your way uphill under the freeway to the Morning Sun Trail. You’ve got another half-mile stretch through an oak forest before you get to the top of the Headlands. Head back down and reward yourself for the 3.5-mile round-trip with a margarita at Copita.
How to get there: Take a Golden Gate ferry from the Ferry Building.
STANFORD DISH LOOP (1 HOUR FROM SF)
This area, home to Stanford’s 150-foot-diameter radio tower called The Dish, is popular among the outdoorsy set. You’ll be surrounded by green (or yellow, depending on the time of year) rolling hills along this hilly 3.7-mile paved trail, and if you bring a pair of binoculars, you might even spot golden eagles.
How to get there: Take Caltrain to Palo Alto. Hop on the free Stanford shuttle (the Marguerite B) to campus and get off at Mayfield Avenue. Walk down Campus Drive East toward Junipero Serra Boulevard until you reach the trailhead at Gerona Road.
RODEO BEACH COASTAL TRAIL LOOP AT THE MARIN HEADLANDS (1 HOUR FROM SF)
For the low price of a bus fare ($4.50 round-trip), you can go straight from the city to the Headlands, skirting the pricey bridge toll and fight for a parking spot. Try the moderate five-mile Coastal Trail Loop for sweeping views of the bluffs above the Pacific. Treat yourself to a picnic lunch on the beach when you finish. Bonus: Pups are welcome on the trail.
How to get there: Take the 76x from downtown.
FRENCH TRAIL LOOP AT REDWOOD REGIONAL PARK (1 HOUR 10 MINUTES FROM SF)
Redwood Regional is one of the Bay Area’s hidden gems. Once the site of logging operations that provided building materials, it’s now home to a dense forest of second-growth redwoods, oak trees and bay laurels. If you’re up for a longer hike, choose the eight-mile French Trail Loop, where you’ll find yourself in a magical Lord of the Rings-like land of moss-covered trees.
How to get there: Take BART to the Fruitvale station. Then hop on an AC Transit #39 or #339 bus to Dunn Trail.
LAKE ANZA TRAIL AT TILDEN REGIONAL PARK (1 HOUR 10 MINUTES FROM SF)
Tilden Park, sandwiched between the Berkeley Hills and San Pablo Ridge, provides 2,000 acres of outdoor fun that could take a lifetime to explore—the old steam train, a botanical garden, even a swimming lake! It’s only about a mile or so around the lake, but you can extend your trip as long as you like along the Wildcat Gorge and Selby trails.
How to get there: Take BART to the Downtown Berkeley station and transfer to AC Transit #67 to Central Park Drive and Lake Anza Road.