8 Best Places to Run in San Francisco (Top Routes, Trails & Tracks)
Whether planning a vacation or heading there for a run-cation, running in San Francisco can be quite an amazing experience.
Get ready because we have the best places to run in San Francisco ready for you.
Is San Francisco Good for Running?
San Francisco is an excellent place to run, a city of temperate climate and year-round mild weather. In addition to the great weather, there are many places to explore with spectacular views.
You will find a variety of surfaces to run, including trails and roadways.No matter what type of running you prefer, there is a San Francisco running route for you.
Certainly, the hills of San Francisco can prove challenging. Don’t let that shy you away from experiencing the joy of traveling this amazing city on foot.
8 Top Places to Run in San Francisco
When contemplating where to run in San Francisco, many places to choose from.
1. Crissy Field
Crissy Field is a former military airfield turned into a beautiful national park. The park is filled with trail runs, mostly flat paths. This is a must-see for visitors with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
2. Lands End
This trail is built on an old train line. It is described as a fairly easy 3.25-mile hike that takes you along the San Francisco coastline.
When looking for running routes in San Francisco, this is another one you have to check out.
3. Lake Merced
Lake Merced is a lake that forms the heart of a 614-acre park. There is a paved path that circles the lake, and it is about 4 1/2 miles around the lake.
This lovely park has picnic facilities and a recreational area so consider packing yourself a lunch to sit, relax and enjoy the wildlife after you complete your run here.
4. Presidio Trail Loop
If you are looking for a bit more challenging trail, the Presidio is labeled one of the best running trails in the Bay Area. It’s 6.1-mile loop long with an elevation gain of 777 feet, this trail is described as “charming” and more rugged than most others.
This particular trail is part of The Presidio, which has 12 different trails. There are 24 miles of trails with many scenic overlooks.
5. The Embarcadero
A boulevard that takes you along the waterfront of the beautiful city of San Francisco, you will travel by the Ferry Building and to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
This touristy area is likely to be packed with people, but it is a city’s must-see.
6. Glen Park Canyon
This park trail is huge on views. If you run here in spring, you will be blown away by the breathtaking wildflowers.
7. Golden Gate Park
Known as the “west coast version of New York’s Central Park,” this park is a beauty. Featuring running paths, trails, botanical gardens, Stow lake and some landmarks, you will find both paved surfaces on which to run as well as soft surface trails.
And let’s not forget Golden Gate Park is close to Ocean beach with its beautiful views of the Pacific ocean.
8. Golden Gate Bridge
If you are looking for a unique running adventure, consider crossing the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge and then running back to where you started.
Can You Run Across the Golden Gate Bridge?
You bet you can run across the Golden Gate Bridge. At 1.7 miles to cross, you can get yourself a nice little workout in crossing it and then heading back. Although the view is incredible, be aware of a few things.
First of all, sometimes the walking area gets crowded. Also, if there is heavy fog, you may not see very far out.
No matter the weather, don’t be dissuaded from this experience.
Where Can I Run Sprints in San Francisco?
This coach will tell you that you can run sprints anywhere that you have enough room for a burst of speed. Sure, you may not want to sprint up a challenging steep hill, and San Fran can be hilly, but dashing up a hill can help you build strength.
There are also public running tracks in San Francisco, and we all know that a track is a great place for sprints and other speed work. Kezar Stadium, for example, is a 6 lane public track built for the citizens of San Francisco and her visitors.
Is It Safe to Run in San Francisco at Night?
San Francisco rates higher in safety than most major city tourist spots throughout the United States. Just like anywhere, running at night has its own share of dangers.
Just remember that it is important to use basic safety protocols such as wearing bright clothing, safety gear, leaving the headphones at home, and running with a buddy if you can.
When looking for safe places to run at night in San Francisco, stick to more highly populated areas. Places such as Golden Gate Park, Pier 14, Delores Park, Grandview Park all rank high in safety.
However, running during daylight hours is always a safer bet if you have options.
What Parts of San Francisco Should I Avoid?
There are some areas tourists should avoid. This includes the Tenderloin, Mission, and SoMa. Just like there is a lot of beauty to see in this area, there also exists crime and homelessness.
It is best to avoid areas where you could encounter these things on a large scale. On the other hand, keeping yourself safe by sticking to certain areas is a good decision.
Races to Consider
Recommended by my friend and running coach Daphne Matalene is the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. Athletes plunge into the icy water of San Francisco Bay and swim 1.5 miles. After the swim, you have a short ‘warm-up run’ as you transition to the bike. The bike is 18 miles from some of San Francisco’s famous tourist destinations.
You will end with an 8-mile run that takes you through sand and up the dreaded Sand Ladder. This triathlon is not for the faint of heart.
Another seasoned runner from my running community, Valerie Danyluk, recommends Bay to Breakers. This 12K race sponsored by Zappos runs through the city and ends at the beach.
No matter what types of running you like to do, whether you are seeking the best running trails in the Bay Area or are just wondering where to run in San Francisco so you can explore on foot, this amazing city has opportunities for you.
Don’t delay another second. Just grab your laptop and plan that trip.
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