My girlfriend and I go hiking a few times a month. We prefer dog friendly trails so we don’t have to leave the pup at home. We live in San Francisco and don’t have a car so our options are mostly limited to hikes in the city and Marin, and there are only some many times you can do Land’s End and Twin Peaks before you get sick of it. So I googled good urban hikes in SF and discovered the Barbary Coast Trail.
The Barbary Coast Trail is a walking tour of some of San Francisco’s most historical sites and famous landmarks. The trail is not a loop. You can start at the old San Francisco Mint if you’re downtown, or you can start at the cable car turnaround at Beach and Hyde if you’re in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. The trail is marked by over a hundred and eighty bronze plaques embedded in the sidewalk. The plaques have arrows to point out the direction you came from and the direction you’re headed to. It becomes a bit of a game to find and step on each plaque. The plaques make it hard to get lost, but every now and then you might stray away from the path and have to resort to Google Maps.
The trail takes you through Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Fisherman’s Wharf and past iconic and forgotten San Francisco treasures. The best part about the trail is that it really is an urban hike so you can easily take a break to browse a boutique, stop for a beer in the city’s oldest bar (which is on the tour), or enjoy lunch from an outdoor cafe.
I’ve lived in the city for over ten years and the Barbary Coast Trail is one of the best things I’ve experienced yet. My girlfriend feels the same way. The dog liked it too. It’s a time filling activity that’s both recreational and entertaining, not to mention educational. And it’s free. I have a feeling that I’ll be taking visiting friends and family on the trail for years to come.
Critically Rated at 16/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young