Exciting and adventurous, chill and quiet— the 17-mile San Francisco Crosstown Trail cuts diagonally across the entirety of San Francisco, connecting vibrant neighborhoods and stunning vistas. This pivotal grassroots project was started by a small group of passionate locals who brought businesses, city departments, and nonprofits together to make outdoor adventures more accessible. The result? A continuum of trails and natural experiences, northwest to southeast, like no other. Spread the word, buy an awesome t-shirt or hat (online or at Mission Blue, see section one below), and most importantly, give yourself the gift of time to experience it. Better yet, make it a routine.
Climb colorful mosaic stairs, take in panoramic views, volunteer at a community garden, hike an urban canyon, or spend time in Golden Gate Park (where else can you find grazing Bison as well as botanical bounties from every corner of the globe?). Experience the trail at a leisurely pace, or let the ultra-athlete in you run the entirety in a day. Walk or bike. The trail truly has something to offer to everyone. See the trail, section by section, in our guide below.
1. Discover Candlestick Point, Visitacion Valley Greenway and McLaren Park
5.2 miles — Turn-by-turn walking and biking directions are here.
Adventurous, Rugged, Aquatic, Quiet Vibes
Enjoy a panoramic view of the SF Bay from Candlestick Point State Recreation Area, close to the former home of the baseball Giants, and relax in the peaceful setting or go on an aquatic adventure alongside people windsurfing and fishing. After that, get energized at Mission Blue, pickup your own SF Crosstown Trail t-shirt and embark on path to the award winning Visitacion Valley Greenway. Venture through its chain of verdant, themed gardens that are an outdoor classroom and neighborhood hub. The path leads you to the spacious, locally renowned but lesser known McLaren Park, where you can spend a relaxed afternoon filled with activities at one of the scenic meadows, the picnic area, game courts, or McNab Lake.
2. Uncover Canyon Trails
3 miles — Turn-by-turn walking and biking directions are here.
Chill, Urban, Wilderness Vibes
An oasis right in the middle of San Francisco, Glen Canyon Park is a 60 acres of wilderness that you can hike through the trail. Get there from Glen Park Bart, which is historic, outdoor architectural itself. On your way you’ll come upon not only the tennis courts, ball fields, and the recreational center but also a variety of habitats, from rocky grass to lush vegetation and the steep eastern slope of the large urban canyon where you can see beautiful wildflowers blooming in spring. You’ll continue through the Laguna Honda Community Trail System, a cool community project of the SF Urban Riders. The only sign that you’re still in San Francisco is the view of Sutro Tower peeking through the tall eucalyptus trees.
You rarely need to touch the street along this 3-mile hike, except to visit a hip, jazzy book and record shop, Bird & Beckett.
3. Climb Mosaic Stairs
Colorful, Majestic, Scenic Vibes
Stairs and colorful scenes— this is what you’ll come upon going north along the trail in the small Golden Gate Heights sub-district of the Inner Sunset neighborhood. Worry not — all of the extra steps will be worth it once you see the beautiful views of San Francisco Grandview Park. The park is the home of many Green Hairstreak iridescent butterflies, and part of Nature in the City habitat work.
On the way down, remember to look back — you'll be distracted by the gorgeous color of the mosaics of the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps featuring vibrant scenes seamlessly flowing from one canvas into another all the way from the top to the base of the hill. Then walk north through the laid-back yet bubbly Inner Sunset neighborhood, a chill paradise for foodies.
4. Enjoy Stow Lake
Floral, Hidden Gem Vibes
In the Sunset district, go to the central east side of the Golden Gate Park — an urban oasis known as the lungs of San Francisco. Is the center of Golden Gate Park, but few tourist venture around Stow Lake, where you can refresh in the green lawns and rent a peddle boat. Then continue on the pathway to the Rose Garden, a serene spot where you can smell the scent of the colorful flowers. After that the trail will take you north along Park Presidio Boulevard — a green strip in the residential area of the Richmond District. Along your journey, get a snack on Geary or Clement street or have a drink at Little Shamrock, arguably the oldest bar in SF.
5 Wander Sea Cliffs
Rugged, Historic, Whale-watching Vibes
Continue on Presidio Boulevard, where numerous restaurants dot the area, and venture out in the sand dunes of the historical Presidio by the water where the Pacific Ocean meets the SF Bay to get the most mesmerizing locations in San Francisco (you’ll find out why the city is referred to as a wonderland hidden away in the fog!). Walking west along a stretch of Baker Beach while the smell of fresh seawater is in the air, you snap a photo at Lands End Labyrinth before you decide to drift to the Legion of Honor. After continuing on your path, you’ll catch a glimpse of the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge followed by a final stretch of pathway along the rocky cliffs above the mouth of the Bay until you get to the ruins of the Sutro Baths and Ocean Beach.