California might be a car-loving state, but San Francisco is a walker’s city. Urban hikes abound in the city, winding through skyscraper forests and into eucalyptus groves, up steep stair-studded hills and on down to flat sandy beaches. These trails get positively packed on sunny Saturdays with iPod-wearing locals and camera-juggling visitors.
Lobos Creek Trail in the Presidio (Easy): Spend a half an hour meandering half a mile along the revitalized nature trail in the Presidio parkland. Lincoln St. at Bowley St. Stay nearby at the Laurel Inn.
The Golden Gate Bridge (Moderate): On a clear afternoon, the 1.5-mile mostly level stroll across the Bridge exemplifies iconic San Francisco. Turn your head as you walk along, and you’ll see Alcatraz, Angel Island, local bridges, the Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the San Francisco skyline. Golden Gate Recreation Area, Highway 1. Stay nearby at the Argonaut Hotel.
California Coastal Trail (Long and Hard): If you’ve got a yen to see most of the best of San Francisco on foot, this 10+ mile trail will get you there. “There” being Fort Point, the Legion of Honor, and the Sutro Bath all the way down the coast to Ocean Beach, then Fort Funston where hang gliders swirl if the wind is right. Golden Gate National Recreation Area at the South Side of the Bridge. Stay nearby at the Argonaut Hotel.
Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower (Grueling): This hike redefines all that’s gorgeous about San Francisco, winding past some of the most beautiful gardens of the City and on up to Pioneer Park’s dramatic 360-degree Bay Area views. Coit Tower's famed murals and elevator ride beckon, too. The catch? 378 stairs up Telegraph Hill via the Filbert Steps, then 397 stairs down the Greenwich Stairs. Filbert St. & Sansome St. Stay nearby at Le Meridien San Francisco.
- Liz Hamill Scott of EatsWritesandLeaves and TravelsWithPain