The 12 Best Bike Trails in San Francisco | SF Bike Tours

The 12 Best Bike Trails in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most legendary urban biking destinations in the world, a true cyclist paradise in every sense. It’s a dramatic and beautiful combination of epic viewpoints, diverse neighborhoods, and stunning nature that are connected by a great network of established bike routes.

Biking along the city’s best bike routes allows you to access and discover the finest sights in the city (and plenty of hidden gems) in a way that most visitors and locals miss out on. 

 

While this guide does highlight some very established sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, and even Lombard Street it brings them to you via the best possible perspective and routes that are only possible by bike.

Every bike route highlighted is designed to give locals and visitors alike a thrilling, unique, and complete bike adventure. And of course, each route also highlights the best places to eat and drink along the way!

Why you should trust us

The article was written by Nick Hormuth, San Francisco’s most experienced bike tour guide, with over 15 years of daily cycling experience in the city and a dedication to finding the most interesting, safe, and beautiful ways to explore his favorite city by bike. He is also the author of a cycling cookbook, dedicated food nerd, Victorian architecture enthusiast, and San Francisco historian.

1. San Francisco Essential Sights

  • Difficulty level: moderate to high [easy on an electric bike]
  • Skill level: medium

A complete and super scenic 20-mile loop of the city exploring San Francisco’s most famous bike routes, parks (including Golden Gate Park and the Presidio), the Golden Gate Bridge, and the coolest neighborhoods. This adventure is the true local cyclist route to the Bridge. It follows the most beautiful and least hilly bike paths, while giving you a grand reveal of the Golden Gate from the Pacific ocean side. It’s epic and our top choice for a rewarding and accessible half-day San Francisco bike ride.

Highlights Include:

  • Ride the famous wiggle bike route
  • See the SF’s grandest Victorian architecture and ‘painted ladies’
  • Explore the famous 1960’s hippy culture of the Haight Ashbury neighborhood
  • Discover the most beautiful and historic parts of Golden Gate Park
  • Stop for a picnic lunch at the Presidio’s Inspiration Point with epic Bay and Alcatraz views
  • Ride the most scenic bike route in the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Bike the Golden Gate Bridge 
  • Explore Crissy Field along beautiful beachfront bike pathways
  • See the pristine Marina and Pacific Heights Neighborhoods
  • Get an epic overlook of SF, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Marin County from Fort Mason
  • Ride a famous urban bike route through classic Russian Hill and Nob Hill neighborhoods
  • Finish at SF’s grandest building, City Hall
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2. Lombard Street and Coit Tower loop

  • Difficulty level: advanced [easy to moderate on electric bikes]
  • Skill level: medium / advanced

Explore SF’s most famous and beautiful crooked Lombard Street, along with iconic Coit Tower, on this adventurous loop through the classic Russian Hill, North Beach, and Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhoods.

 

Along the way, you’ll enjoy some of SF’s most dramatic city views, made legendary by films such as Vertigo and Bullit. You’ll get spectacular close-up views of Alcatraz and the cable cars. Plus, there are tons of extra-delicious opportunities to stop for food and drinks along the way.

 

Pro Tip: Getting to Lombard, atop Russian Hill and to Coit Tower, atop Telegraph hill means  quite a climb so we highly recommend an electric bike for comfort navigating up and down steep hills.

Highlights Include:

  • Bike Lombard Street, SF’s most gorgeous winding street

  • Explore historic North Beach, SF’s Little Italy, with great stops for delicious food and drinks.

  • See SF’s most famous cable car lines

  • Ride through the scenic Fisherman’s wharf neighborhood with stops at its coolest sites including Aquatic Park, the Musee Mecanique (Victorian arcade), and the famous Buena Vista Bar (inventor of the Irish coffee).

3. Valencia Street to the Wiggle Bicycle Route

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  • Skill level: ????

Ride one of San Francisco’s most famous bike routes, from the super hip Valencia Street in the Mission District to the legendary LGBTQ Castro neighborhood before connecting to SF’s favorite bike route the Wiggle. This route also takes you by SF’s most beautiful neighborhood park. There are also great opportunities to taste and explore some of the best-of-the-best SF food along the way.

Highlights Include:

  • Bike Valencia Street, one of SF’s first bike routes, and home to some of SF’s coolest shops, cafe’s, and restaurants.
  • Explore Dolores Park, the most beautiful neighborhood park in SF, with a distinctive culture and great city views.
  • See SF’s oldest building, Mission Dolores (Mission San Francisco De Asis)
  • Ride into the Castro neighborhood, birthplace of the rainbow flag, and home to some of the city’s most interesting shops, theaters, and bars.
  • Bike Market Street, SF’s main corridor and a cool bike route.

4. Biking Across The Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito

  • Physical difficulty: moderate [easy on electric bike]
  • Skill level: medium

Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge is a real right of passage for cyclists and is truly a memorable experience. It makes for a complete adventure if you ride a little further to the town of Sausalito (including exploring its true local’s area) and take the ferry back. A local few tricks make this route extra scenic, like riding through historic Ft. Baker to reveal incredible San Francisco city and Golden Gate Bridge Views from an epic viewpoint.

Pro tips:

Weather and Seasonality

The Golden Gate Bridge has the most intense weather in SF, so dress warm and expect wind and fog. Also if you’re planning on doing this ride at the peak of the season (Jun-Aug), we highly recommend reversing the route, taking the ferry to Sausalito and biking back to SF to avoid extremely long and annoying lines at the Sausalito ferry terminal.

Day of the Week and Sides of the Bridge

There are two sides of the Bridge and a dedicated bike side that is open after 3:30 on weekdays and all day on weekends. The route is slightly different, see our maps for info.

Catching the Ferry

We highly recommend catching the public ferry that runs between the Sausalito dock and the Ferry Building. It is both nicer and cheaper and takes you to the must-visit San Francisco Ferry Building which has tons of cool shops and food options. It’s also a short 15 minute ride to Fisherman’s Wharf or you can explore more of the Embarcadero (SF Waterfront). If you must, there is also a ferry from Sausalito to Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s not nearly as nice, packed with tourists, and costs more.

Highlights Include:

  • Ride the full length of the Golden Gate Bridge

  • Bike through Fort Baker with extra special lookout points

  • Explore Sausalito, including Caledonia St., it’s only local’s street with great lunch and cafe options.

  • Take a beautiful San Francisco Bay ferry ride past Alcatraz to the landmark Ferry Building.

  • Discover the Ferry Building Marketplace, featuring the greatest collection of  SF’s best food business all under one roof.

​​Weekend Route       Weekday Route

5. Golden Gate Park Loop

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  • Skill level: ????

Golden Gate Park is SF’s grandest park and 20% larger than New York’s Central Park. It’s an amazing feat of human persistence that transformed windswept sand dunes into a lush oasis and it’s best explored by bike. This awesome loop explores all the highlights of the park, with plenty of hidden gems and secret pathways thrown in for good measure. You’ll also get a grand reveal of the mighty Pacific Ocean at Ocean Beach and have an opportunity to grab a beer at the park’s own Park Chalet Brewery.

Highlights Include:

  • Explore the whole length of Golden Gate park – twice!
  • See the park’s oldest building, the beautiful Conservatory of Flowers
  • Discover the Park’s world-class DeYoung Museum and California Academy of Science
  • Pass the grand SF Botanical Garden and beautiful Stow Lake
  • See the famed GG Park buffalo herd
  • Discover two Dutch windmills and gorgeous flowers gardens
  • Explore Ocean Beach at the end of the Park
  • Visit the infamous Hippie Hill and the restored park carousel 
  • Ride the Polo Fields, Golden Gate Park’s historic bike racetrack

6. The Wiggle to Golden Gate Park

  • Physical difficulty: moderate [easy on electric bike]
  • Skill level: easy

The Wiggle is the SF’s most famous and well-used bike route connecting all the downtown neighborhoods including the Mission District, SoMa, Hayes Valley, and the Castro to Golden Gate Park and all of the city’s outer neighborhoods. In short: we ride the wiggle all the time and love it.

It’s called the wiggle because like any good SF bike route it avoids the hills, zig zagging through blocks of cool Victorian architecture in the Duboce Triangle and Lower Haight Neighborhoods. It eventually ends up in the lush Panhandle, the start of Golden Gate Park. Along the way there are cool options for drinks and shopping, including SF’s best beer and finest small record stores.

Highlights Include:

  • Ride SF’s most famous and beloved urban cycling route, the Wiggle
  • See one of SF’s most charming neighborhood park’s, Duboce Park
  • Bike through the Duboce Triangle and Lower Haight neighborhoods, revealing some of SF’s best Victorian architecture
  • Stop and explore some of SF’s best small record stores like our fav Rooky Ricardos
  • Have a beer at the legendary Toronado, Woods, or Ft. Point
  • Connect to the beautiful Panhandle, the start of Golden Gate Park, or bike up to Alamo Square Park, home of the famous ‘Painted Ladies’

7. Mission District Murals and Food

  • Physical difficulty: easy
  • Skill level: easy

The Mission District is one of the cultural epicenters of San Francisco and the heart of its Latino culture. An expression of this is its incredible mural art scene, with the greatest breadth and depth by far in the city. This super cool route not only takes you by the most well known mural alleys but lesser known masterworks that take over whole houses and grand buildings. You’ll also discover the connection to SF’s Latin music culture including tributes to the Mission’s own Carlos Santana. Along the way, you’ll get a chance to taste SF’s best Mexican food and visit its most distinctive bars.

Highlights Include:

  • Explore SF’s grandest and lesser know murals, including the famous Balmy and Clarion Alleys 
  • See incredible muralled buildings, including the famed Women’s Building
  • Explore 24th Street, the heart of SF’s Latin culture and most muralled street
  • Enjoy SF’s best Mexican food, tortillas, and gourmet desserts.
  • Discover SF’s unique music culture, with pieces dedicated to Carlos Santana and a host of influential musicians
  • See SF’s oldest Victorian architecture

8. Presidio Loop

  • Physical difficulty: high [easy to moderate on electric bike]
  • Skill level: medium

The Presidio is San Francisco’s other great nature area, home to the Golden Gate Bridge, and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the 3rd most visited national park in the US. A wild transformation of sand dunes and a sprawling former military base, the Presidio is one of my favorite places to ride bikes in San Francisco. This ride takes you on the most scenic route of all time to the Golden Gate Bridge, through soaring redwood and cypress forests with an epic reveal of the Pacific Ocean. Then after passing under the Bridge takes you past epic city overlooks through the heart of the old military base and out through a fragrant, sprawling eucalyptus grove.

Highlights Include:

  • Ride the most beautiful and established local cyclists route to the Golden Gate Bridge

  • See the remnants of a sprawling former military base including bunkers, parade grounds, barracks, and officer houses.

  • Enjoy incredible overlooks of the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay, and Golden Gate Bridge

  • Stop at the visitors center and have a coffee at the great Roundhouse Cafe when you arrive at the Bridge

  • See the giant mansions of the Presidio Heights neighborhood

  • Discover the famed Spire and Lover’s Lane pieces by Andy Goldsworthy

  • Explore the Lucasfilm headquarters where the Star Wars films are made and see the Yoda statue

  • Bike through lush cypress, eucalyptus, and redwood groves

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9. Hawk Hill Loop

  • Physical difficulty: high [easy to moderate on electric bike]
  • Skill level: advanced

Making it up to Hawk Hill and back is one of the most legendary road cycling routes you can do right past the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands. And for good reason, it’s a mix of challenging climbs, epic cliffside views featuring the Golden Gate Bridge and all of SF beyond, rollercoaster downhills, and a tranquil ride through the valley nestled between the hills of the headlands. There is also tons of variations depending on how much time you have, your appetite for climbing, your mood, and skill level. We highlight all the most popular variations here.

Highlights Include:

  • Ride one of the world’s most legendary road bike routes up to Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands

  • Reveal breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco

  • Bike a varied route of challenging climbs, twisting road, and memorable downhills through a range of environments

  • Choose to extend the ride to the Point Bonita Lighthouse and Rodeo Beach

  • Return to the Golden Gate Bridge via the Baker-Berry Tunnel (easier) or climb back to Conzelman Road (more challenging)

​​Easier Route       More Challenging Route

10. Twin Peaks Loop

  • Physical difficulty: high [easy to moderate on electric bike]
  • Skill level: advanced

Twin Peaks are the highest points in San Francisco and the ride up there is one of the most memorable and legendary bike rides you can do in the city. Twin Peaks is especially epic on clear days when you can get 360° views of the whole San Francisco peninsula. Recently they also closed a lot of the most scenic parts of Twin Peaks to cars, so you can enjoy epic panoramas in peace. While there are a lot of variations on how to get to Twin Peaks, the most direct and safest feeling approach we prefer is via the Mission or Castro neighborhoods then climbing up the back side and returning via the Haight Ashbury neighborhood.

Highlights Include:

  • Ride to the highest bike-accessible points in San Francisco, revealing epic views of the city and beyond.

  • Take the safest, most direct, and scenic route to the Twin Peaks

  • Enjoy car-free riding at the top and down the most iconic curving stretch of road on the front of Twin Peaks

  • Return via the famous Haight Ashbury Neighborhood

11. The Embarcadero and Southern Waterfront

  • Physical difficulty: easy
  • Skill level: beginner

Probably the most tranquil stretch of riding, along the best bike paths in San Francisco takes you from the Ferry Building to the cool Dogpatch neighborhood, the former heart of ship building in the city. Along the way you enjoy incredible pier lookouts of the Bay Bridge, see SF’s largest harbor (South Beach Harbor), ride past the Giants baseball stadium (Oracle Park) and the Golden State Warriors basketball arena (Chase Center), ending at SF’s coolest new park, Crane Cove Park in the Dogpatch. Along the entire route you’ll enjoy epic SF Bay views, bike SF’s finest off street bike lanes, and have opportunities to stop for great food and drinks.

Highlights Include:

  • Ride SF’s most tranquil and safest bike lanes

  • Explore the Ferry Building, SF’s great foodie marketplace

  • See the Oracle Park, home of the SF Giants baseball team, and Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors basketball team

  • Discover SF’s coolest waterfront art pieces

  • Enjoy incredible lookout points and piers showing off the Bay Bridge, SF’s coolest night landmark

  • Enjoy great food and drinks at classic waterfront cafes

  • Ride Crane Cove Park, SF’s newest and coolest park build in the old shipyards

  • Explore the Dogpatch, former industrial heart of San Francisco and now home to great restaurants, breweries, bakeries and pizzerias.

12. Ocean Beach to Baker Beach

  • Physical difficulty: moderate to high [easy to moderate on electric bike]
  • Skill level: intermediate

San Francisco has two great beaches on the Pacific, Ocean Beach, the wide duney beach at the end of Golden Gate Beach, and Baker Beach, the stunning, rugged beach next to the Golden Gate Bridge. This famous and memorable route connects both and can be done approaching from either the Presidio or Golden Gate Park. Along the way, you’ll not only get stunning ocean and Golden Gate Bridge views but also see landmarks including the Cliff House, Sutro Bath ruins, Legion of Honor Museum and bike through the fancy Sea Cliff neighborhood. The ride can even be extended to the Golden Gate Bridge or along the Great Highway to Lake Merced.

Highlights Include:

  • Explore San Francisco’s most beautiful beaches, Ocean and Baker.

  • Discover the Cliff House and Sutro Bath ruins, with incredible Pacific Ocean views

  • Visit the Land’s End visitors center to learn the history of the area and get a snack and drink at the cafe

  • See the Golden Gate Bridge from the most dramatic and rugged viewpoint at Baker Beach

  • Extend the ride to the Golden Gate Bridge or to the southern end of Ocean Beach to Lake Merced.

  • See the Legion of Honor, SF’s grand neo classical art museum atop Lands End

Explore San Francisco With a Local Expert

Ready to explore the cyclist paradise of San Francisco with a local expert on cool electric bikes? Book your guided tour here.

arks in San Francisco” with cool examples of iconic architecture to discover in the city.

A curated insider’s guide to our favorite places to eat, drink, and explore in the city

About Nick Hormuth

Nick is the owner and main tour guide of Dandyhorse Bike Tours. A lifelong San Francisco enthusiast and resident of the Mission District, Nick nerds out on food, bikes, history, and crafting unique adventures.

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