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Local Guide to 6 of the Best Hiking Trails in San Mateo County and the San Francisco Peninsula

Local Guide to 6 of the Best Hiking Trails in San Mateo County and the San Francisco Peninsula

A great way to experience the beauty of the Peninsula is by hiking its many trails. From short trails with stunning views to more challenging all-day affairs, there’s a hike for everyone in the Bay. To help you plan your next outdoor adventure, we’ve compiled a list of the five best hikes in the Bay Area, including some less-known local favorites.

1. ‏The Summit Loop Trail‏

San Bruno

2 miles‏

‏The Summit Loop Trail is a fulfilling hike providing amazing Bay Area views. This hike offers numerous diverse habitats, including prairie grasslands, coastal beach fronts, and wildflowers. The peak summit at 1,314 feet offers excellent panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay, Pacific Ocean, and the Peninsula. As you trek through the hills and mountains, you will experience wildflowers and birds. At the peak of the hike, you'll notice the prominent Mt. Diablo.‏

2. ‏Golden Gate National Bridge and Park‏

San Francisco‏

‏3.4 miles‏

This area offers incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. The pedestrian trail across the bridge is 1.7 miles one way and leads to more pathways on the Marin side. This hike is perfect for being spontaneous and taking a long hike or just a casual stroll across the Golden Gate and enjoying the views.‏

3. ‏Land’s End Trail‏

‏San Francisco‏

‏3.5 miles‏

Land’s End is an easy-to-moderate hiking trail located in the corner of San Francisco. This hike offers one-of-a-kind sights such as the historic Sutro Baths and amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. This is a very popular trail for hiking, running, and exploring. Dogs are welcome on this trail and there are some off-leash areas included. The trail can be started from the Sutro Baths or the Eagle viewpoint. Walkers in this area can also visit the nearby Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum, a USS San Francisco Memorial, Mile Rock Beach, and more. ‏

‏Notable sight/fun fact: 3 shipwreck remains are visible at the end of Lands End: the Ohioan, Lyman Stewart, and Frank Buck.‏

‏Lands end Octagon House‏

4. Angel Island Trail‏


4.8 miles‏

This hike is located away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and on the tranquil, and car free Angel Island. This paved trail is perfect for family hikes and also for bikers. According to Angel Island National Park website there is a wheelchair accessible tram that provides one-hour tours along the Perimeter Road. The Perimeter Road has a 360 view of the San Francisco Bay and is a great way to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. It takes about 30 minutes from San Francisco to Angel Island by the Blue and Green Fleet Ferries. These ferries take Clipper Cards and are located next to PIER 39. ‏‏Under the fare proposal, a round-trip ticket for adults could increase from $19.50 to $31, which includes the $3 park entrance fee. The cost would fall to $18.50 if riders pay with a Clipper card. Fares for children, seniors, Medicare recipients, groups and riders with disabilities would increase from $11 round trip to $17 under the proposal.‏

5. San Andreas Lake Trail‏


7 miles‏

‏Check out this out-and-back trail near Millbrae, California. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 2 h 31 min to complete. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and trail running, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of the day. The trail is open year-round and is beautiful to visit anytime. ‏

6. Waterdog Lake Park Trail


Variable trails 

The Waterdog Lake Open Space offers a range of trail lengths and intriguing attractions for exploration. Discover the diverse routes to experience Waterdog Lake by consulting the trail map, with trailheads situated at Hallmark & Lake Road, 2400 Lyall Way near Lake Rd & Lyall, and 2642 Carlmont Drive.

In conclusion, exploring the beauty of the Peninsula through its diverse hiking trails offers an enriching outdoor experience for everyone. Whether you seek short walks with breathtaking vistas or longer, more challenging treks, the Bay Area caters to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts. With such diverse options available, embarking on one of these top five hikes promises an unforgettable adventure amidst the stunning landscapes of the Bay Area.