The Best Running Routes in San Francisco

best-running-routes-san-francisco

The best running routes in San Francisco with ideas on how to get in long runs with minimal hills, the most scenic routes and my daily run.

While I was going through photos from my iPhone photo stream for this post, I was actually surprised by how many photos from the same places I seem to have. When I first moved here, I stopped basically every run to take a photo. I mean, how many people run to the bottom of the Golden Gate bridge ever, let alone on an almost daily basis?

One struggle I had was finding flat-ish routes. I find my knees and Achilles tendon start acting up with a lot of hills, which is ironic because I have been running on hills for the past 12 years. The only place I have lived that is vaguely flat was Hong Kong (but Hong Kong is not flat – it’s actually over 80% green land and lots of mountains).

When I tell people I live in The Marina I get a lot of “of course you do” (more on that for another post). One of the main reasons I love living in this part of the city is that it is flat and perfect for running. It’s flat because it’s built on reclaimed land after the rubble from the 1906 earthquake was pushed from Pacific Heights into an old cow pasture (i.e. why the streets south of Lombard are considered “Cow Hollow” NOT the Marina). Also if there is an earthquake while I’m home my building is probably going to fall into the ocean because it’s built on a landfill. You win some, you lose some.

Even though I’ve lived here just a tad under six months, all of these runs feel really personal to me and hold a lot of memories for some reason or another.

The Best Running Routes in San Francisco

  • Crissy Field and the Marina (6-8 miles round trip)
    I start from my building and run up to Marina Boulevard. From there I run to Fort Mason then back to Fort Point. That’s 6 miles. You can add on another two miles by running past Fort Mason to Polk Street on Bay.
best-running-routes-san-francisco

Fort Point to Fort Mason. I add on a few tenths of a mile from my building.

Fort Point at sunrise.

Fort Point at sunrise.

best-running-routes-san-francisco

Crissy Field at sunrise.

best-running-routes-san-francisco

My favorite part of the route.

  • Golden Gate Bridge to AT&T Park (10 miles one way, 20 miles roundtrip)
    If you’re going to do this run, do it early. I start out by going down Marina Blvd, through Crissy Field, up the hill to the San Francisco vista point for the bridge, across the bridge, around the Sausalito vista point, back down and to Fort Point (moremilage), down Powell to theEmbarcadero and then to AT&T Park and back to my place. I love this because it’s mainly flat (two major hills, minus he bridge), scenic and there are lots of chances for me to refill my water. Just know there are a bazillion tourists that will be in your way, especially on theEmbarcadero.

    best-running-routes-san-francisco

    Golden Gate Park to AT&T Park.

    best-running-routes-san-francisco

    Golden Gate Bridge from the Sausalito vista point.

    best-running-routes-san-francisco

    Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco vista point.

    best-running-routes-san-francisco

    The city at sunrise from Fort Point.

  • Lands End (3 miles)
    If you’re looking for a city trail run, this is a great option. You can add on some milage by running past the Cliff House to Ocean Beach. There’s actually really cool ruins here from Sutro Baths, which were public swimming pools and a bath house that burned in the 1906 earthquake. So many fun SF facts in this post!
best-running-routes-san-francisco

Sutra Baths at Lands End.

best-running-routes-san-francisco

Lands End

best-running-routes-san-francisco

Sutra Baths.

  • Ocean Beach
    San Fransisco isn’t all Bay – you can also get to the Pacific. Ocean Beach is one of my favorite places in the city because I love the ocean. Plus it’s a great excuse to get coffee at Trouble Coffee or brunch at Outerlands afterwards.
best-running-routes-san-francisco

Ocean Beach

  • The Marina to Ocean Beach (7 miles one way, 14 miles roundtrip)
    I do this as an alternate long run. The route below is from Fleet Feet, the running store on Chestnut. I go up the Lyon St stairs even though it’s super intense, it’s also kind of fun because I’m a masochist when it comes to running. I run both main roads through Golden Gate Park – usually JFK on the way out and Martin Luther King Blvd on the way back. If you’re trying to see part of the city, this is a great route to do.
best-running-routes-san-francisco

The Marina to Ocean Beach

best-running-routes-san-francisco

The hike up the Lyon Street steps is worth it for this view.

  • Golden Gate Park
    There are lots of trails here, dirt paths around the park and plenty of bathrooms and water fountains. It’s bigger than Central Park in NYC and you can easily do 6 miles around the park and then tell all your friends you ran past bison in the city. Bonus points if you see a coyote.

    best-running-routes-san-francisco

    Conservatory at Golden Gate Park.

  • Kezar Stadium
    I do my track workouts here (yes, I actually am doing speed workouts this training session). It’s a really iconic running spot – Runner’s World had a whole article on Kezar last year. It just reopened in March 2015 after a lot of renovations. Plus, it’s cool to run in a place where the Giants and 49ers used to play.
  • The Embarcadero
    I kind of hate running here because there are so many tourists who are not paying any attention. I do my tempo runs here which is dumb on my part but it’s also good people watching and scenic because you get to see the Bay Bridge.
best-running-routes-san-francisco

Bay Bridge at sunrise.

Chat with me:
Where do you love to run in your city? Have you ever ran in San Francisco before? Do you run when you’re traveling?

15 comments on “The Best Running Routes in San Francisco

Avatar image
Susie @ SuzLyfe on April 15, 2015 7:40 am

Not. Fair.
Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Impromptu Date Night at Nico Osteria Chicago (review)My Profile

Avatar image
Jill on April 15, 2015 8:15 am

Ha agree! I thought the same thing Suze. These photos are amazing.
Jill recently posted…Step by StepMy Profile

Avatar image
Jill on April 15, 2015 8:13 am

I’ve been wanting to get to SF and the west coast for years but just haven’t made it yet. These photos are amazing and I’m super jealous of your running routes! The old bath house ruins are especially beautiful.
Jill recently posted…Step by StepMy Profile

Avatar image
Erin @ Her heartland Soul on April 15, 2015 9:52 am

Wow how gorgeous! I need to get back to San Fran!

Avatar image
Lauren on April 15, 2015 10:33 am

Great post and breathtaking photos. I’m totally saving this for if I ever get back out to San Fran!
Lauren recently posted…Get ready, Baltimore-Shack Track and Field is Coming!My Profile

Avatar image
Sara on April 15, 2015 10:44 am

Wow, your pictures are amazing! I live in the East Bay but my husband works in the city so we’re there fairly often, will have to bring my running shoes some time :)
Sara recently posted…Lighter Honey Sesame ChickenMy Profile

Avatar image
Julia @ Pennies & Paper on April 15, 2015 10:52 am

All of these routes are so beautiful! Bookmarking this for when I (hopefully, eventually) move to San Francisco :)
Julia @ Pennies & Paper recently posted…Secret Blogger Club #10My Profile

Avatar image
Lynda@fitnessmomwinecountry on April 15, 2015 11:40 am

I have run many of those areas and running under the bridge and on it is a favorite of mine. I do have to drive in from Sonoma {just north of you} but worth it on a weekend when I can get over there. Mt. Tam is awesome for trail running and hiking :)
Lynda@fitnessmomwinecountry recently posted…When A Training Run Turns Into A WalkMy Profile

Avatar image
She Rocks Fitness on April 15, 2015 12:09 pm

I ran the San Francisco 1/2 Marathon and we went over the Golden Gate Bridge…It was breathtaking…What a fun and challenging city to run in…If I ever come back. you’ll have to take me on one of these routes! :)
She Rocks Fitness recently posted…New Beginnings…The Negative VoiceMy Profile

Avatar image
Shashi at RunninSrilankan on April 15, 2015 1:00 pm

Wow – Cassandra these are some gorgeous views! I remember running over the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito, when I visited San Fran a few years ago – and I gotta say – wow what a view!

Avatar image
Hayley @ Full of Life on April 15, 2015 1:38 pm

Gah I miss running. I’ve never run in SF before which is sad since I’ve lived near it my whole life. Can we have a running date when my knee is healed?!

Avatar image
Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on April 15, 2015 5:09 pm

Hi Cassie! I know, I know. We are spoiled! You know one place I didn’t really enjoy running? On Golden Gate Bridge. Only did it once, and boy it was crowded. I rarely run, but have gone out there with the husband a few times and along the Embarcadero is my favorite. Oh you Marina girl, you! :)
Ashley @ A Lady Goes West recently posted…What my daily meals look like in picturesMy Profile

Avatar image
ganeeban on April 15, 2015 7:48 pm

What a lovely post! I’ve only run in the City for races, but your post is perfect for inspiring me to run around the City! Thanks for sharing! xoxo, ganeeban
ganeeban recently posted…WIAW – Taco(less) TuesdayMy Profile

Avatar image
Whitney on April 16, 2015 9:20 am

How pretty are those views?! Totes jealous!! I love running while traveling.. seriously one of the main reasons I love running. You can do it wherever!
Whitney recently posted…What I Ate Wednesday: Long Run FuelingMy Profile

Avatar image
Jo @ Living Mint Green on April 16, 2015 1:59 pm

Sigh. What a paradise. I need to be there!

Wouldn’t it be fun to trade lives for a week?!
Jo @ Living Mint Green recently posted…I’m not running + Where to eat in the Alberta RockiesMy Profile

Comments are closed.