Otto up a tree in Golden Gate Park. (CC) ejbSF
Golden Gate Park is to San Francisco what Central Park is to New York, but oh-so-much better, at least in our dog-centric opinion. Its 1,017 acres encompass dog-friendly gardens, lakes, picnic groves, trails and many other attractions. On weekends, when the roads running through it are closed to vehicular traffic, pedestrians and pooches rule the roost.
Options for hikes in the park are many, whether you stick to roads and sidewalks or venture onto trails. For an aerobic option, we suggest a trek to the 430-foot summit of Strawberry Hill, highest point in the park—and, on a clear day, a binoculars-worthy vantage point for scoping out landmarks including Mount Tamalpais and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Start your hike by crossing the rustic bridge near the historic Stow Lake Boathouse and let serendipity be your guide through a maze of paths leading to the fairly level summit. A word of warning: go early if you’re limited to a weekend, as the trails can be very crowded by midday.
For ramblings on flatter ground, consider tuning up Bosco’s obedience skills in the fenced dog-training area just off 39th Avenue at Fulton Street, right next to the Bison Paddock. It’s the largest fenced dog-play area in the city and a great place to to practice “come,” “sit,” “stay” and other commands every dog should know.
After you’re done, leash up, follow the path along the bison enclosure, turn left and continue to Spreckels Lake, a major feature on the park’s sprawling landscape. Pass through a nearby tunnel, enter the Polo Field and let your imagination run wlld as you take a lap around its perimeter. If you have some music with you, tune into some of the 1960s rock bands that performed here back in the day, including Jefferson Starship, Canned Heat, Country Joe McDonald, Moby Grape and many others whose echoes still remain.