San Francisco. With inspiring views and year-round good weather, it’s a runner’s paradise. While notorious for hills, it offers a variety of running terrain. It’s also a small city, only 7 miles by 7 miles wide, so running is a great way to take in the sights, sounds and beauty of the City by the Bay. Plus, if you’re headed out for a long run, you could run the whole city!

Here are some top places to run in San Francisco.

The Embarcadero

Nothing beats running along the Embarcadero. It’s a flat route along the Bay from AT&T Park, home of the World Series Champions the San Francisco Giants, to Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Aquatic Center. Along the roughly 3.5-mile point-to-point path, you’ll pass many of the city’s main attractions, such as the Ferry Building, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz and Ghirardelli Square. Since it can get crowded, it’s best to run here during off-hours.

Marina Green and Crissy Field

Marina Green and Crissy Field offer another good stretch of flat running, making this place popular with runners. The incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts and the Bay don’t hurt either. While there are many running paths, one route is to run west through Crissy Field, following Marine Drive until you reach Fort Point. When you reach the chain link fence just under the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll find a pair of concrete hands – Hopper’s Hands – ready to celebrate your achievement! You can extend your run across the Golden Gate Bridge. Be prepared if it’s windy! You can also connect to this path from the Embarcadero. Just run over the short hill at the far end of the Aquatic Center and into Fort Mason.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is a giant rectangle on the western side of San Francisco, encompassing about 1,000 acres of green space. That means that are various paths to run that will take you by world-class museums and gardens, windmills and the beach! Enter at Stanyan St. and run along John F. Kennedy Drive on the north side of the park and head all the way west to the Great Highway and Ocean Beach.

The Presidio

If you’re looking for some trail running in the heart of the city, head to the Presidio. This old Army post has over 24 miles of trails to explore along numerous trails and eight scenic overlooks. There are multiple paths to run, and it’s a great place for hill training!

Redwood Regional Park

OK, while technically not in San Francisco, Redwood Regional Park is where I go for a trail run when I’m in town. Located in the hills above Oakland in the East Bay, this 1,830-acre park is studded with gorgeous trails and redwood trees. Elevation ranges from 500 feet to 1,600 feet. There are two main trails along the ridges – East Ridge Trail and West Ridge Trail – and a valley in between them. Take your pick!


By Nichols