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5 Breathtaking Running Trails Near San Francisco
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5 Breathtaking Running Trails Near San Francisco

Picture of Alex Litwin
Updated: 24 April 2017
We have all had the sudden urge to escape. A need to remove ourselves from the chaos of city life and the world around us. There are many ways to find that release. For some, a long run on an endless single track trail is the only option. Whether you’re an avid runner or not, you’re bound to appreciate 5 of the most beautiful trails the Bay Area has to offer.
China Camp State Park | © EveryTrail
China Camp State Park | © EveryTrail

Located on the shore of San Pablo Bay, China Camp’s endless network of trails serve up unreal views daily. The trails are also a haven to mountain bikers, so runners must stay on the look out for fellow nature enthusiasts bombing down the trail. You can’t go wrong with any of the trails at China Camp, but if you’re looking for some views without crazy hill climbs, Shoreline Trail is the way to go. For more info on the park, head to the Dept. of Parks and Recreation page.

China Camp State Park, 101 Peacock Gap Trail, San Rafael, CA, USA, +1 415-456-0766

©Nick Fullerton/Flickr
© Nick Fullerton/Flickrcommons
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Wildcat Canyon Regional Park

Wildcat Canyon Regional Park boasts a vast expanse of open land and over 25 miles of running trails. What’s the best part? There are cows roaming free throughout most of the park for extra natural authenticity.There is plenty of parking at the Wildcat Canyon Staging Area (East side of the park). From there, there are a number of trails to take. For a longer run, try out Wildcat Creek Trail and take it all the way to the Little Farm and back. For more info and a detailed trail map, head here.

Wildcat Canyon Recreation Park, 5755 McBryde Ave, Richmond, CA, USA, +1 888-327-2757

©Miguel Vieira/WikiCommons
© Miguel Vieira/Wikicommons
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Dipsea Trail-Steep Ravine Loop

The Dipsea is a truly iconic trail for many reasons. Perhaps most importantly, its steep hills and single-track footpaths are home to the Dipsea Race, America’s oldest cross-country trail running event. As glamorous as that sounds, the Dipsea Trail is no party. Get ready to climb, in the most literal sense, because the Dipsea Trail boasts 688 stairs just to kick things off. For those that aren’t enticed, the unbelievable views of Stinson Beach and the surrounding areas will help. So if you’re feeling ambitious, and want to reward yourself with some fantastic ocean views after a long climb, the Dipsea will be waiting.

Steep Ravine Environmental Campground, Stinson Beach, CA, USA

Old Wooden Building Near Phoenix Lake | © Wolfgang Schubert
Old Wooden Building Near Phoenix Lake | © Wolfgang Schubert
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Phoenix Lake Trail

Phoenix Lake is one of five lakes which comprise the Marin County-Mount Tamalpais Watershed. The Phoenix Lake trail takes you all the way around the lake on meandering and relatively flat single tracks. There are multiple loops runners can take around the lake, but a fan favorite is the Phoenix Lake to Yolanda Trail to Hidden Meadows loop. The run down to the lake is arguably the most enjoyable part, as it features a breathtaking ridge trail with endless forest below. You’ll have to do some climbing on the way back up, but as always, it will be well worth it.

Phoenix Lake Park, Greenbrae, CA, USA

©Kimon Berlin/Flickr
© Kimon Berlin/Flickrcommons
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Lands End Coastal Trail to China Beach

Many flock to Lands End to take in the iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, or to explore the wonder that is the Sutros Baths. However, Lands End also offers up some amazing running trails. Park in the large lot near the USS San Francisco Naval Memorial, saunter on over to the Coastal Trail, and pound some dirt while taking in beautiful views of the bridge. Take the trail all the way until the end, where it will lead you out onto the road. Keep running and follow signs down to China Beach. If you’re brave, you can take a quick dip in the glorious water of the Bay before heading back to the trail.

Land’s End, Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA

By Alex Litwin

Alex Litwin is an outdoor Enthusiast and Digital/Social Media Professional whose love of nature has taken him from Vermont to Wyoming and now to San Francisco.