We Run SF: The 9 Most Beautiful Places to Jog in San Francisco
There’s nothing worse than having to do cardio in a room full of sweaty, musty, heavy breathing people at the gym. Running on the treadmill can be such a bore, and when you live in a city with over 42 incline / decline settings, plus scenic views that trump staring at yourself in the mirror for 30 minutes, it definitely doesn’t make any sense.
So if you’re ready to burn more calories, build stronger muscles, and breathe in some fresh air, scroll down and pit yourself against mother nature at 9 of the most beautiful places to jog in San Francisco.
Related: #FitFriday: 5 Outdoor Inclines to Exercise in San Francisco
Unlike most places around San Francisco, Crissy Field is actually flat, and offers you the option to jog on the beach, dirt paths, or paved road. Stick around Crissy Fields or go the distance and jog all the way to Ghirardelli Square. If you make it to the Marina Green, the nice folks at the National Fitness Campaign have generously installed one of the best public outdoor gyms in the world for your enjoyment.
Distance: 3.3 miles (one way: from the Warming Hut to Ghirardelli Square)
Unless you don’t mind jogging around slow walking pedestrians, the Embarcadero is best visited in the early morning or late afternoon. Spanning 2.9 miles from Fisherman’s Wharf at Pier 39 to AT&T Park, you’ll get to enjoy Instagram worthy views of the city and the Bay along this fantastic route.
Distance: 2.9 miles (one way: from AT&T Park to Fisherman’s Wharf)
Golden Gate Bridge
Challenging yet rewarding, you’ll be faced with strong winds, a gradual incline and decline, plus an obstacle course created by the many tourists and cyclists that frequent the bridge. On the bright side, however, the views from the bridge are spectacular.
Distance: 1.7 miles (one way)
Golden Gate Park (3 x .5 miles) & Panhandle (.75 miles)
A prime destination for visitors across the globe, Golden Gate Park is a no brainer when it comes to jogging in San Francisco. 3 miles long and half a mile wide, the park features 1,017 acres of beautifully landscaped meadows, serene trails, and paved roads with varied elevations. Extend your jog into Panhandle for an added .75 miles if you have it in you.
Distance: 4 miles (one way: from Lincoln Way & Great Highway to end of Panhandle)
Related: The Ultimate Guide to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park
Jog along the dirt or paved roads surrounding the perimeter of Lake Merced and enjoy miles of lush scenery. With the exception of a few gradual inclines and declines, Lake Merced is a fairly easy loop run. Jog the full 4.5 miles or cut across the bridge at the lake’s Southern tip to shorten your jog by half a mile. There is also an array of pull up bars and body-weight training stations along the path for you calisthenic heads.
Distance: 4.50 miles (loop)
1.5 miles of meandering scenic coastal trails boasting panoramic views of the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands, this primarily dirt trail challenges joggers with various obstacles from long flights of stairs and slippery slopes to flocks of photogenic tourists. When wet or foggy, joggers should be extremely cautious while jogging Lands End. This trail is best visited during mornings before tourists arrive and obstruct your path.
Distance: 1.5 miles (one way)
The future home of the Golden State Warriors, the Mission Bay has been the center of new developments in the City. Jog along the 1.25 mile waterside trail at Mission Bay Creek Park where you’ll find beautifully landscaped lawns, trees, and an array of recreational areas.
Distance: 1.25 miles (loop)
Related: Warriors Ground: A Guide to San Francisco’s Mission Bay
Ocean Beach / Great Highway
When it comes to jogging along Ocean Beach or the Great Highway, a degree of mental toughness is required. Aside from strong coastal headwinds, the jog itself is fairly easy, but the most challenging aspect of this route is how straight and open it is. You’ll definitely learn to pace yourself with the finish line in sight yet so far away.
Distance: Ocean Beach: 3.5 miles (one way), Great Highway: 2 miles (one way)
At 1,480 acres the Presidio is the largest park in the City. Shaded by towering cypress trees, challenging hills, and scenic outlooks overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Pacific, trails within the Presidio consist of winding, narrow dirt and paved pathways. Comfortable shoes are definitely a must.
Distance: Varies by Route