While it’s well-known that the Bay Area has thousands of miles of breathtaking trails and parks, there are also quite a few fantastic hiking trails within the confines of San Francisco itself. At 49 square miles large, the city of San Francisco packs in everything from diverse neighborhoods and top-rated restaurants, to beaches and hiking trails. Here are the top 10 urban hikes in San Francisco.
A hike of Little Lakes Valley via Mosquito Flat makes for a quintessential Eastern Sierra outdoor experience. This 8.5-mile out-and-back hike passes by six alpine lakes and provides side trail options to quite a few more. Hikers will pass under the 13,000+ ft mountain peaks of Bear Creek Spire, Mt. Dade, Mt. Abbot, and Mt. Mills.
Patriarch Grove rests at an elevation above 11,000ft, and requires 13 miles of driving on an unpaved dirt road. There are two .5 mile hikes at Patriarch Grove, the Timberland Ancients Trail and the Cottonwood Basin Overlook Trail. In this guide, I’ll provide directions, photos, maps, and instructions on combining these two hikes for a 1-mile figure eight loop.
The hike from Pine Knot Trail To Grand View Point is one of the most popular hikes in Big Bear, CA. This 7-mile hike gains 1230 ft and provides hikers with stunning views out towards San Gorgonio Mountain and a bird’s-eye look down at Big Bear Lake. This trail requires no permit and allows dogs.
Castle Rock Trail is a popular 2-mile out-and-back hike located in Big Bear, California. This short trail gains 610 ft and provides hikers with a bird’s eye view of Big Bear Lake. The path up to Castle Rock is steep, rocky, and technical towards the end, so make sure to come prepared.
Buzzard Peak is the highest point in the San Jose Hills, a small range that parallels the 10 freeway and separates the cities of Covina, Walnut, and Diamond Bar. At 1345 ft, Buzzard Peak provides commanding 360° views of Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, and the San Gabriel Mountains.
Stoddard Peak sits at 4624ft in the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains. This peak is sandwiched between the low lying foothills of Upland and Claremont in the front, and the high rising mountains of Mt. Baldy in the back. Stoddard Peak’s location provides hikers with some spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding landscapes. This hike is 6-miles roundtrip, with 1204 ft of elevation gain, and a trail mix of fire road and cross country single track.
Eagle Scout Trail is a 3-mile out-and-back hike with 1043ft of elevation gain. Located between the 57 and 71 freeway, many Southern California residents have probably driven past this hike without even knowing it exists. As soon as you start to gain elevation from the trailhead, you’ll have views of Cal Poly Pomona, Diamond Bar, and the rest of the Inland Empire to the east.