San Francisco’s first great city park, Golden Gate Park, began to take shape shortly
after the end of the Civil War. First park superintendent William Hammond Hall laid
out the grounds with winding paths to discourage speeding horses and shield
strollers from the wind. In 1887 Hall ceded his duties to landscape gardener John
McLaren and over the next 50 years the Scotsman would mold Golden Gate Park into
one of the world’s most admired urban greenscapes.
He built nine artificial lakes and miles of roads, bridle paths and foot trails in the
park bounded by Fulton Street to the north and Lincoln Way to the south from the
Pacific Ocean to Stanyan Street. Golden Gate Park boasts more than one million
trees and plants from lands around the globe. Over the years the park has hosted
every conceivable form of recreation from golf to archery to polo to San Francisco
49er football. The park encompasses more than 1,000 acres and stretches from the
Pacific Ocean halfway across the city – more than three miles.
In 1972 a menagerie of government properties around the San Francisco Bay that
included forts, a prison, an airfield, beaches and forests came together as the
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, becoming one of the world’s largest urban
national parks. In the park are such popular destinations as Alcatraz, the Presidio
and the Cliff House at Lands End. Today the park administers 75,388 acres of land –
including 28 miles of shoreline – on more than 20 separate parcels.
You will not be lacking things to do with your dog in the Golden Gate National
Recreation Area. One of the best places for dog owners to head is Fort Funston on
the Pacific Ocean at the southern extreme of the park in the city (off Skyline
Boulevard – Route 35). There are trails to romp along among the cliffs and plenty of
unrestricted access to the beach. Look for hang gliders soaring above the cliffs.
Except for areas of bird nesting and small China Beach, dogs are permitted on the
sand in the city of San Francisco all the way north from Fort Funston to the San
Across the bay there is first-rate canine hiking in the Marin Headlands and the
Oakwood Valley on designated trails. Elevations in the wooded hills climb to over
1000 feet. Dogs are not permitted in the Muir Woods or the Tennessee Valley, the
two most significant prohibitions against dogs in the Golden Gate National
The units of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are located in the western
edge of San Francisco along the Great Highway. The parcels of land can be accessed
from US Route 1.