Activities
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Whether you want to take your dog for a swim, a run, a hike, or just to play in the park, San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo Counties have a wealth of open spaces for you and your dog to enjoy. As always, please be aware of local leash laws and rules, and pay special attention to wildlife and endangered plant species.

At all beach locations, be sure to keep an eye out for marine mammals that sometimes “beach” on the sand, especially during spring and winter months. Be sure that your dog is on leash around a beached marine mammal. Contact the Marin Mammal Center’s Rescue Center at 415 289-7325 or the National Park Service’s Dispatch at 415 561-5510 to notify them about a stranded marine mammal.

Activities

SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY

Swimming: All Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) land

  • Crissy Field: Your happy dog can retrieve the ball or stick in the water on east and central beaches year round. There is a seasonal restriction at west beach due to the Western Snowy Plover, but dogs can be off leash from May 15th to June 30th. Be careful not to let your dog in the water after a large winter storm at Crissy Field as there are numerous outfalls and raw sewage is a real problem!
  • Baker Beach: This beach is a fun place for your dog to fetch the Frisbee or ball but be careful about the very strong undertow!
  • Ocean Beach: There is a seasonal restriction at Ocean Beach due to the Western Snowy Plover, but dogs can be off leash from May 15th to June 30th. This restriction area is from Sloat Blvd. to Stairwell 21. In addition to offering great views, this is a perfect beach for water and Frisbee dogs. Be careful of winter storms and big waves as there can be a strong undertow here.
  • Fort Funston: Your dog is going to love playing and running around, chasing balls, and watching surfers.

Hiking

  • The Presidio:This is a great place to hike with your dog. There are a lot of new trails so be on the lookout for on-leash signs. And don’t forget to bring lots of water.
SAN MATEO COUNTY

Swimming

Esplanade Beach: This beach is operated by the City of Pacifica and is closed until further notice. The stairs to the beach was washed out during a recent storm and there are currently no plans to replace them. Visit the City of Pacifica’s website, www.cityofpacifica.org, or call (650) 738-7381 for updated information.

Hiking (Off Leash)

Pulgas Ridge Open Space: More than seventeen acres of this 293-acre preserve have been designated as an off-leash recreation area. Check with the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s website, www.openspace.org, or call (650) 691-1200 for more details.

Hiking (On Leash)

Milagra Ridge (GGNRA land): Enter on Sharpe Park Road in Pacifica between Highway One and Skyline Blvd, and follow the trail to the top of the hill for a terrific view of the Pacific Ocean. The hillsides are covered with ice plant and Monterey Pines, and dogs and humans must stay on trails that are bound by cables and fences to protect the rare Mission Blue butterfly’s habitat.

Sweeny Ridge (GGNRA land): You and your dog can access Sweeny Ridge from the end of Sneath Lane. Parking is available in a small, designated lot. While often very cool and foggy, on a clear day you will enjoy a great view of Crystal Springs Reservoir and a panoramic view of the Bay Area that includes Mt. Tamalpais and Mt. Diablo.

Thornewood Open Space Preserve: Located off of Highway 84, this 141-acre preserve is a good place to walk your dog on leash through woodland areas. Please don’t let your dog go swimming in Schilling Pond as swans and dogs don’t mix well.

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve: This huge preserve has more than three miles of trails you can enjoy with your dog on leash. Be careful of the foxtails that seem to stay all year round, and ring lots of water during the hot summer and fall months. You can access this area by parking at the lot off of Highway 35.

Coal Creek Open Space Preserve: There are five miles of trails through dense oak and madrone forests that will keep you and your dog cool during the hot summer months. There are two entry points along Skyline Boulevard for this preserve; visit www.openspace.org for more details.

MARIN

Swimming: Rodeo and Muir Beach are on Golden Gate National Recreation Area land

Rodeo Beach: This is a small beach, but dogs love coming here to splash in the waves. But be aware that there is often a strong undertow, especially during the winter months.

Muir Beach: This beach is great for a sunny or foggy day, and your dog is going to love running around in the sand and splashing in the water. Watch for a strong undertow in the winter months.

Hiking:

Marin Headlands: There are several trails and fire roads in the Headlands that offer great hiking and terrific views of the San Francisco Bay and Marin. Be sure to bring lots of water ¬– for you and your dog – especially on a hot day.

Oakwood Valley: Whether you like hiking in the shade or the sun you’re in luck, because this valley has both. It connects to Alta Avenue, and there are two entrances for the trail and road. Be very careful parking along the road leading to Tennessee Valley, and be aware of ticks and poison oak.

Alta Avenue: On this hike you’ll traverse several plant communities and enjoy stunning views of Richardson Bay. Don’t forget to bring water, and be aware of ticks and poison oak.

Rodeo Avenue This fire road rises above Sausalito and eventually connects to Oakwood Valley and Alta Avenue trails. Access is available by exiting Highway 101 at Rodeo Avenue and parking in the small lot.

The Marin Open Space District Preserves offer a variety of hiking opportunities that include fire roads, great views of Marin, and varied flora and fauna. Keep a look out for ticks, coyotes, and other wildlife, and remember to always bring lots of water.