Most visitors to San Francisco never make it to the upper reaches of the Presidio, a 1,500-acre former U.S. Army base transferred to the national park system in 1996. And that’s a doggone shame, especially for DogTrekkers unaware of the 24 miles of trails winding along the Presidio’s coastal bluffs, through shady forests and past historic sites and neighborhoods that seem a world removed from the bustling city below.
The dog-friendly Inn at the Presidio, which opened last year in a beautifully refurbished 1903 building, is San Francisco’s newest hotel and the Presidio’s first. We can say without doubt that it’s also the only hotel in the city where you can relax around a fire pit with your four-legged friend! Tuck into a rocking chair on the long, first-floor verandah, enjoy a libation with Fido at your side and imagine what life here was like a century ago, when bachelor officers were quartered in the building and the Golden Gate Bridge had yet to rise.
The easy, 1.4-mile Ecology Trail departs from the inn’s parking lot, connecting to the Inspiration Point Overlook and the Main Post, an important U.S. Army installation for 140 years. The Presidio’s largest redwood grove is the trail’s shady highlight, and there are connections off the main path to the Mountain Lake and Bay Area Ridge trails, each of which traverses some seriously inspiring scenery.
On the new, 2.5-mile Presidio section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, take in the striking Andy Goldsworthy sculpture “Spire” and the rolling San Francisco National Cemetery, with its somber rows of white headstones framed by Golden Gate Bridge views. To examine Goldsworthy’s newest installation, “Wood Line,” a haunting “river of logs” winding through a eucalyptus grove, take all or part of the 2.5-mile Mountain Lake Trail.
You can’t go wrong anywhere you hike in the Presidio, where the next panoramic views are always just around the corner and parking in many lots is just $6 a day. And when it comes time to eat and the weather is warm, you’ll find just reward at the Presidio Social Club, where menus change with the seasons and dogs are welcome to lounge by your side when the weather is warm enough for patio service.
Another yummy choice is Dixie, the highly regarded, Southern-influenced restaurant overseen by celebrity chef Joseph Humphrey, formerly with the Lodge at Cavallo Point. Brunch here is a stellar affair, and a late lunch will have you lingering. Try a pomegranate mint julep followed by a bowl of the day’s gumbo, perhaps slipping Fido a shrimp under the table. On your way out, you and your furry buddy can pause for a photo opp next to the statue of Yoda at the Lucasfilm Headquarters next door.