‘Tis the season for road races and fun runs. And we all know it can be hard to fit a daily jog in with everything else we’ve got going on in the summer. But no matter where your activities take you around the Bay, there’s bound to be a fab trail nearby. So put some air in the jogging stroller and lace up those sneaks. We have five paths you’ll want to put on your route.
Image courtesy of Michael Fraley via Flickr
Golden Gate Park
Spread out over more than 1,000 acres, Golden Gate Park is even bigger than New York’s Central Park, and boasts lakes, windmills, world-class museums and even its own bison herd. An easy to follow loop starts McLaren Lodge, located at the east end of the park, then follows John K. Kennedy Drive all the way to the beach, then back along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The only downside may be all the distractions for you and your little one: The route takes you past the photogenic flower conservatory, Rhododendron Garden, Academy of Sciences and de Young museums, Japanese Tea garden, three lakes, two windmills and the aforementioned a bison herd. Hopefully your pint-sized running partner will be snoozing by the time you sprint past the huge playground and carousel, or your workout may have to end a little earlier than planned.
501 Stanyan Street (and Fell)
San Francisco, Ca
Image courtesy of Mario Sánchez Prada via Flickr
This long, wide and well-paved path along the waterfront is popular with walkers, bikers, roller skaters—you name it. The view is unbeatable (the sparking Bay complete with sailboats and coasting gulls) and it’s one of the few flat expanses the city has to offer. The route options are pretty straightforward: From the Ferry Building at Pier 1, you either go north, towards Fishermans’ Wharf and eventually, the Golden Gate Bridge, or south, where you’ll pass the Bay Bridge, AT&T park and end up in along Mission Bay. A good plan is to park near the stadium (avoid game days!) and run north, past the marina, the Bay Bridge, Cupid’s Span, the Ferry Building and the Exploratorium. A smart place to turn around is the docks just before Pier 39—the tourists get pretty thick at this point. Plan your run to coincide with the Ferry Building Farmers Market (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until 2 p.m.) and stock up on fresh fruit samples for the little ones to snack on while you sprint.
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, Ca
Image courtesy of SF Recreation and Parks
Lake Merced Park
Get a healthy dose of nature without leaving San Francisco. A wide, paved path circles the lake. At 4.5 miles, with a few slight inclines, it’s perfect for taking your training to the next level. You might even get lucky and see the SFSU crew practicing on the water! Pack up some old bread and reward your little passengers with a duck feeding session after your jog. Four parking lots offer ample spots. Map your route at sfrecpark.org.
Skyline Blvd & Harding Road
San Francisco, Ca
Image courtesy of Smokeys Mountain
This 2.7 mile paved loop winds through the wilderness surrounding the reservoir. The little ones will love trying to spot wildlife (Ducks! Turkeys! Geese! Oh my!) while you will enjoy the relatively easy terrain. A few hills will get your blood pumping, but it’s mostly flat. Starting in the parking lot, if you go counterclockwise you’ll end at the reservoir’s playground. Parking is easy, but there is an hourly charge (credit and debit cards accepted at kiosks in the lot.) For more info including an area map, go to ebmud.com.
3849 Mt. Diablo Blvd.
Iron Horse Regional Trail
Here’s one you could visit every day for a month, and get a new experience each time. The trail runs through a total of 12 East Bay cities—from Concord to the edge of Pleasanton. Consider starting at Heather Farms in Walnut Creek. You can take the wide, paved trail out-and-back, and then enjoy some prime duck-watching. The park has play structures and restrooms. The trail is also assessable from both the Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek BART stops. Check out a trail map at ebparks.org.
301 N. San Carlos Drive
Walnut Creek, Ca
Image courtesy of Contra Costa County
Stevens Creek Trail
This gem starts in Mountain View and travels five miles to the Bay. You’ll cross over bridges, under streets and through tunnels along the way. It’s mostly flat and wide, though some hairpin turns will put your steering skills to the test. The trail is surrounded by native wildlife and vegetation, but it travels through some very well-populated areas, making it simple to find parking and customize your distance. Explore your options at stevenscreektrail.org.
22221 McClellan Road
Image courtesy of Ron Horii
Seal Point Park
Talk about turning trash into treasure. This park on the edge of San Mateo was once a landfill. Now it’s home to some of the best trails around (not to mention a playground, a beach, a dog park, and some of the most stunning views of the Bay and planes landing at SFO.) Gradual hills will have you feeling the burn while the Bay breezes will keep you nice and cool, but don’t forget to bundle up the little one. Parking is free and plentiful. Get more info at ci.sanmateo.ca.us.
1901 J. Hart Clinton Drive
San Mateo, Ca
Image courtesy of spacedust2019 via Flickr
Tiburon Historical Trail
This five-mile round trip trail is perfect for both parents and kids. Start out at Blackie’s Pasture (located right off Tiburon Boulevard just after Reed Ranch Road) where the little ones can sidle up to the statue of Blackie the horse—the living, breathing version stood in the pasture for nearly 30 years and became something of a Tiburon mascot. There are two branches of the trail that you can follow: one that leads along Richardson Bay, and the other that runs alongside Tiburon Boulevard. The path is dotted with amenities, such as a sports field and two playgrounds, and the turnaround point at Mar West Street, just before downtown Tiburon, so if you or your brood are feeling snacky, there’s plenty to pick from here. Tell the kiddos to keep an eye out for trial markers along the way, as they tell the story of Tiburon as it was more than 100 years ago. Find out where the cod processing plant stood and where the Southern Pacific Railroad made its stops.
Did we miss your favorite jogging route? Tell us below!