Originally featured on baywoof.org
If you're staying local this holiday season - whether due to Covid-19 or other factors - you may be looking to change things up with new ways to enjoy the Bay Area. There are many incredible parks that will remind you of the beauty of the Bay AND give your dog the gift of exercise! We've compiled a list of amazing parks and places to explore with your pup this holiday season.
Point Isabel Regional Shoreline, photo via alltrails.com
Point Isabel Regional Shoreline
For a beautiful view that looks west over the Bay and a whole bunch of doggy-socializing, try Point Isabel. A large off-leash shoreline dog park on the Bay with access to some small rocky beaches and a channel, Pt. Isabel is part of the San Francisco Bay Trail. Very popular on weekends. Great for dog (and people) watching! There is a water and “washing station” (hoses) for dogs. Great views across to San Francisco. There is even a little dog-friendly café nearby. Dogs can be off leash under voice control.
Redwood Regional Park: West Ridge-French-Tres Sendas Loop
My favorite dog-friendly east bay redwood hike. Park at the Skyline staging area. Take the West Ridge trail to the right. There are nice views to the east. After about a mile, turn left on the Tres Sendas trail. Follow Tres Sendas down into the redwoods. At the junction, turn left on the French trail and follow it up back to West Ridge (some steep sections). Make a right on West Ridge and follow it back to the parking lot. There is water at the parking lot. It’s about a 2- or 2.5-mile loop. Dogs permitted off-leash, and your out-of-towners will be ready to move to the Bay Area in a heartbeat.
A nice quiet drive up Centennial Drive in Berkeley above the stadium. About a quarter mile past the Strawberry Canyon Recreation Center there is a gravel parking lot on the right. Park there and hike up the fire road. This is a beautiful quiet hike that gradually climbs up Strawberry Canyon. Turn around whenever you are ready. There is no water at the trailhead. Dogs permitted off leash.
Wildcat is a beautiful regional park that is less visited than Redwood, Tilden, and Joaquin Miller. Park at the Alvarado Staging Area. From here there are various options. I like to follow the main fire road (I believe it’s the Wildcat Creek Trail) for a couple of miles and then turn around. Nice wide-open parkland with views to secluded Wildcat Canyon to the right. Dogs permitted off leash
A beautiful wooded canyon near Merritt College, popular for dog walkers, joggers, and hikers. Park at the staging area on Campus Drive off Keller Avenue east of Interstate 580 in Oakland. There are no facilities at the trailhead, and there are only three trails in the park, but it makes for a lovely short hike. Follow the Leona Canyon trail all the way out and back for about 3 miles total, or follow one of the two other side trails for a short distance.
Be sure to check the National Park Service website before heading out to verify pet regulations on each hike.
A very popular ocean front park that features great views of the bay. Great for a long walk, picnic, amazing views of the city, the Bay, the bridge, Alcatraz, etc. Dogs are permitted off-leash except at the west end of Crissy Field beach which is a wildlife protection area. There is a beach, a nice long promenade for walking (and people watching) and a large grassy area perfect for picnic or watching the sunset.
On a clear winter day this a gorgeous trail along the coast on the northwest edge of the city. Views of the ocean, Golden Gate bridge, and the Sutro Bath ruins. Park at the Lands End overlook and hike north along the coastal trail. The trail follows a bluff above the ocean and is about four miles out and back to the Eagle’s Point Overlook. Dogs need to be on a leash, but your friends and family will be blown-away by the views.
An absolutely beautiful city-beach looking out at Marin with easy access through the Presidio. Just south of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Outer Richmond. Swim at your own risk because the waves and currents are strong, but if you do the rewards are great! Dogs are allowed off-leash north of Lobos Creek. Great views west to the Golden Gate Bridge. Note: the north end of the beach is clothing optional.
Looking for cliffs, coast and a long strip of beach? Fort Funston is dog heaven. Located in the southwest corner of San Francisco, this is a protected area with trails through trees, windy cliffs, and ice plant. On any given Saturday, you may see hang gliders, kite-surfers and a parrot trainer enjoying this amazing park. Definitely check the GGNRA website on this one as it is on the list for potential restrictions. Until now, however, it’s been a fantastic off-leash play yard for dogs of all shapes and sizes.