View from Bernal Heights Park. Photo Credit: @thea_l8r
Is there a more dog-friendly big city anywhere else in the world? If so, we don’t know about it. An abundance of open space available to canines makes the City by the Bay especially enticing to four-legged visitors with humans on the other end of the leash. Well-behaved pooches can socialize off-leash in many places around the city, while long on-leash hikes are a way of life.
The off-leash stuff first:
• Want to meet local people and dogs on their own turf? Head to Crissy Field, a former military airfield offering beaches, picnic areas, overlooks and iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and other landmarks. Dogs are allowed to romp off-leash in certain areas, but be sure to check signage to ensure you’re in a legal area. The main trail (leash required) hugs the shoreline for miles.
• Another popular gathering spot for local canines and their two-legged companions is Fort Funston, on the city’s southwest coast. Various trails lead down from the bordering cliffs to a dog-friendly beach washed with crashing waves. Your dog can run free in designated areas, but do bring a leash and prepare to get a handle on your pup in the vicinity of horses, hang-gliders and others who share the space. (Tip: bring a windbreaker, too, as it’s always blustery here.)
• Bernal Heights Park is indeed in “the heights,” offering 360-degree panoramic views accompanied by an often-brisk breeze. A network of trails wind around the hill and provide access to the summit. This park’s 26 acres feel a world away from the grid of streets stretching to the horizon below. Your dog doesn’t have to be on leash here, but she does need to have good manners.
You’ll need a leash for most other city hikes, but don’t let that deter you.
• The Lands End Trail should rank high on your San Francisco bucket list. It hugs the rugged northwest coast, opening up one million-dollar view after another during its 2-mile run from the parking lot at Point Lobos Avenue and El Camino Del Mar to the Eagle Point overlook, which makes a natural turnaround point.
• You’ll need private transportation to get to the Presidio with your dog, so if you didn’t bring a car, try hailing a dog-friendly Uber or Lyft. This serene corner of the city, which served as a military post for 140 years and is now managed by the National Park Service, has forests, creeks, trails, views, architecture, art and history. The upper reaches of the 1,500-acre preserve are laced with 24 miles of trails winding through diverse scenery. Favorites include the 1.4-mile Ecology Trail, which departs from the dog-friendly Inn at the Presidio; the 2.5-mile Presidio section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail; and the 2.5-mile Mountain Lake Trail from the Broadway gate to dog-friendly Baker Beach.
Photo Credit: @thea_l8r