Fort Funston (credit: Randy Yagi)
From magical redwood forests to secluded beaches, the San Francisco Bay Area is blessed with several great dog-friendly places to hike with your faithful companion. If you’re looking for someplace new to visit with your dog, or simply need a friendly reminder of a hidden gem nearby, here is a brief look at just five of the very best dog friendly hiking areas in the Bay Area.
Fort Funston Road
San Francisco, CA 94118
It’s easy to see why Fort Funston is one of the most popular spots in San Francisco for dog lovers. There’s no entrance fee and there’s plenty of parking, although it can get fairly busy on weekends. What’s more, dogs can happily roam off-leash or under voice control along the scenic trails through the prominent sand dunes or even right on the beach. However, there are some restrictions that must be noted. The National Park Service advises visitors that two areas are off limits for dogs, leash or no leash — a 12-acre area in the northwestern section of Fort Funston and at the northern end of the Coastal Trail. Because the officials from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are in the midst of revising the Dog Management Plan, dog owners should keep up with the latest information online.
Point Isabel Regional Shoreline
2701 Isabel St.
Richmond, CA 94804
Point Isabel is the exception to the rule amongst all other parks within the East Bay Regional Park District. Described as one of the largest public off-leash dog parks in the country, this spacious park lies on 23 acres with a scenic trail providing glorious views of the San Francisco Bay. There’s also the Sit and Stay Cafe and Mudpuppy’s Tub and Scrub, where dog owners can have their furry friends bathed, groomed and even have their teeth brushed. All dog owners must be mindful of the park’s dog policies — including preventing dogs from digging or damaging park resources and avoiding the birds at low tide and the marshes bordering the east end of the park.
Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve
Redwood City, CA 94062
With striking views of the San Francisco Bay, Pulgas Ridge features six miles of trails and one very special spot for man’s best friend. Encompassing 366 acres, this open space preserve allows dogs on a leash on all of the trails. But less than a half-mile from the entrance is an off leash area covering 17.5 acres, more than enough for dogs to get plenty of carefree exercise. A segment of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space, Pulgas Ridge is the only district preserve with an off-leash area. Because no water is provided at any of the district preserves, dog owners are strongly advised to avoid hiking on hot days.
Sausalito, CA 94965
A hidden gem the within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Rodeo Beach is a place where dog owners might describe as “dog heaven.” Located within the breathtaking Marin Headlands at Fort Cronkhite, Rodeo Beach offers “voice control walking” right on the beach as well as on the Loop Trail from the parking lot. Like Fort Funston, there is no entrance or parking fee at Rodeo Beach, although parking lot here is more limited. However, access to the beach is much easier than Fort Funston and is all but certain to be much more peaceful. Located about four miles from the northern end of Golden Gate Park, visitors might want to take the coastal route to enjoy the spectacular views of the world-famous bridge via Conzelman Road.
Redwood Regional Park
7867 Redwood Road
Oakland, CA 94619
According to the East Bay Regional Park District, it’s one of the only public open space agencies that allows dogs off-leash, under voice control on park trails. One of the most popular segments of the park district for responsible dog owners is Redwood Regional Park, home to the East Bay’s largest remaining natural stand of coastal redwoods. Located on 1,830 acres within the Oakland Hills, the sprawling park features a vast network of hiking trails, and dogs may accompany their human companions off-leash except on the trails in Serpentine Prairie, which includes a section of the Dunn Trail. Additionally, dogs must be on leash in the Stream Resource Protection Area to help protect and preserve the native rainbow trout and their spawning areas.