golden gate bridge biking trail

Scenic Bike Routes of San Francisco

August 17, 2023

A Cyclist’s Guide

It’s time to feel the wind whistling through your hair (through the holes in your helmet!) on a scenic San Francisco bike route.

San Francisco is an incredibly unique biking city with much to offer within (and beyond) the city limits. You can bike through bustling city streets, unique and quiet neighborhoods, lush parks, ocean paths and coastal forest trails on the same route. How is that possible? Call in the magic of San Francisco!

cyclists riding a trail in SF

Why is San Francisco so great for Cyclists?

  • Bike-Friendly: San Francisco boasts an extensive network of bike lanes, protected paths, bike-sharing programs, and simple bike rentals, making it super easy to obtain a bike and use it throughout the city and beyond. 
  • Diverse Scenic Routes: With iconic landmarks, waterfront views, diverse neighborhoods, and tons of natural beauty, you can find several beautiful scenes to bike through, all easily reachable from the city. 
  • Mild Climate: we may be a little foggy and rainy, but that doesn’t stop locals and tourists alike from enjoying year-round cycling. Layer up, and you can head out almost any day of the year!
  • Hills Challenge: While challenging, the city’s hilly terrain provides cyclists excellent training opportunities (and rewarding panoramic views). If you want all the sights without the pain of biking uphill, we highly recommend renting an e-bike!
  • Easy Public Transportation: Not only is the public transportation in San Francisco great, but it’s also often bike-friendly! So if you want to start at a trailhead or find a new area to explore, public transportation and bike-friendly transit options allow cyclists to widen their biking opportunities! 
  • Tourist Attractions: Cyclists can effortlessly explore tourist hotspots like the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower and Fisherman’s Wharf for a more scenic and intimate sightseeing experience. 

However, even with all these benefits of biking in San Francisco, you need to know where you’re heading to tackle a genuinely exceptional bike-riding experience. If you aren’t up for the planning process, we highly recommend you leave it to the professionals and hop on a guided SF bike tour! If you want to head out on a self-guided experience, we have lots of options for great San Francisco bike routes.

Best Bike Routes in San Francisco for Every Cyclist

Ready to tackle the city by bike? Here are all the best bike routes in San Francisco to tackle during your time in the city – both easy and advanced!

5 Best Urban Bike Paths

Get to know the city on these short and easy SF bike routes!

Golden Gate Park Loop
  • Distance: 6.3 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Sights: Golden Gate Park

If you’re visiting San Francisco, this should be the first bike path you hop on! Biking the Golden Gate Park Loop is the best way to see everything in this expansive park. Cycle past the Japanese Tea Garden, Botanical Garden, lovely ponds, and more. Hot Tip: If you do this early in the morning, you can get into park areas that usually have a paid entrance for free! We recommend renting a bike from Parkwide Bike Rentals and Tours since they are located within Golden Gate Park! 

the japanese garden in golden gate park
Golden Gate Bridge
  • Distance: min 2 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Sights: Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito

This route is as short or as long as you’d like – but all options include a trip across the famous Golden Gate Bridge! Whether on an SF guided bike tour or a solo trip, this is the most popular option for people who want to rent bikes and see the best of San Francisco. Once you cross the bridge, you can tackle some stunning hills in the headlands or take an easier route exploring Sausalito. 

an image of the golden gate bridge bike trail
Embarcadero Promenade
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Sights: Fisherman’s Wharf, Bay views

Embarcadero now has a great bikeway, so you don’t need to compete with cars or pedestrians! This promenade will take you along one of the most popular parts of the city with views of the bay and all the interesting infrastructure around the bay.

embarcadero promenade view across the water
The Wiggle
  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Sights: City, Golden Gate Park

We love the name of this SF bike route – and not just because it’s cute! Named after the zig-zagging path that navigates the city’s hills, The Wiggle bike route is designed to minimize elevation changes and hills, so people navigating Golden Gate Park can enjoy the easiest-possible course. The Wiggle starts around Market Street and zig-zags to Golden Gate Park. This route has many turns but is well-marked, so watch for the green arrows and signs!

a sign reading 'the wiggle' with a person riding a bike behind it
3rd Street and Battery Bike Path
  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Sights: City neighborhoods

Battery Street, a notoriously busy commuter area, recently built the “first protected bike lane in the Financial District” to make the space more navigable and safe for cyclists. 

Ride along the bay past oracle park, and you’ll reach Third Street.

Ideal for commuters, the Third Street bike lane is a newer pandemic installment added to make cycling in southeastern neighborhoods safer and bike-friendly. This includes the historic Lefty O’Doul Bridge, which has been revamped to welcome bikers. Remember that Third Street is a northbound one-way street, so it’s much more difficult to hop on and head south.

a group riding their rented bikes near golden gate bridge

3 Best Scenic City Biking

These are our favorite routes that mix city and nature views!

Presidio Loop
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Sights: Presidio Park, Golden Gate Bridge

Seeing Presidio Park by bike will grant you some of the most iconic San Francisco views you can find in the city. This sprawling park covers wind-swept ocean scenes, pine tree-covered coasts, and natural beauty bumping up against the bustle of the city. This loop is a little hilly, but it can be a breeze with a great e-bike!

a bike trail in the presidio
Ocean Beach Via the Grand Highway Bike Path
  • Distance: 6.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Sights: Beach and sea views

Breathe in some refreshing salty air on a ride along Ocean Beach. You can listen to the waves, take in stunning Pacific Ocean vistas and enjoy an afternoon along the water. You’ll ride on the Great Highway Trail just adjacent to Ocean Beach. This trail provides a flat, paved path for cyclists to ride and an easy way to see the coast. Conveniently rent a bike for this trail with our partner, Parkwide Bike Rentals and Tours

a group of bikers jumping on the grand highway bike path
Angel Island Bike Path
  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Sights: Waterfront, city skyline

This may take a little time, but it is well worth the effort! As the Angel Island bike path is separated from the rest of the city bike paths by the bay, it’s not nearly as crowded as it could be. Only reachable by ferry, this tiny island has a street that follows the shore and offers stunning ocean, bay and city views. This will take a little more time and planning than other options, but the ferry ride is a part of the fun! If you’re looking for affordable bike rentals, be sure to rent a bike before you go to Angel Island!

on an overlook seeing angel island in the background

2 Best Long-Distance Bike Routes in San Francisco

Hone your cycling skills with routes perfect for training and workouts.

San Francisco Bay Trail
  • Distance: 350 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Sights: Bay views

The San Francisco Bay Trail is an extensive and well-maintained trail that travels through several cities and towns near San Francisco! There are several legs near the city that tourists and locals alike love to cycle. Try out the Fort Mason (San Francisco) to Sausalito Ferry via Crissy Field leg to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy bay views! There are also more stretches of the bay that leave the city views for more wind-swept bay and shoreline views.

chrissy fields
San Francisco Downtown to Headlands Route
  • Distance: 22 miles
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Sights: City, nature, bay views

This route is popular for cyclists as it has a little bit of everything! Starting in Chinatown, you navigate some city neighborhoods and bayside streets to get to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge – once you cross, you’ll head into the headlands – a stunning nature area that is a stark difference to the city streets you just rode through. The overall route is a hilly 22 miles, making it a fantastic training session and workout.

someone standing next to a bike overlooking the headlands in sf

Don’t underestimate our city’s passion for biking – San Francisco has endless bike routes! So, if you need help planning your adventurous San Francisco itinerary, reach out to our team! We are happy to show you the best of the city from the seat of a bike.

A Biker’s Guide to Must-Visit San Francisco Neighborhoods

There's a lot to love about San Francisco, and all of it is found in the different neighborhoods across the city. From incredible art to fantastic foods to a bustling nightlife and more, San Francisco's neighborhoods are up there with most of the country's most picturesque and exciting neighborhoods.  Are you up to date with [...]

Eco-Friendly Transportation Options in San Francisco

We all do what we can to be a friend to our dear Mother Earth. We keep reusable grocery bags on hand, monitor water usage during droughts, and rock sneakers made from water bottles. But how often do we think about how our transportation can impact the environment in San Francisco?  Sustainable living is more [...]

From the Golden Gate to Alcatraz: A Bike Tour of SF’s Iconic Historical Sites

There's no better way to see the best of San Francisco than by e-bike! Exploring the different parks, sights, and neighborhoods is much easier when you have the best of both worlds: beat the traffic with a bike but power through hills and long distances with a motor assist. Now that you have your trusty source [...]

SF Biking: Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Biking in a City

There's a reason you can't cross a block without seeing at least a few people enjoying SF biking - you can't top this form of transportation in our busy city! However, it's essential to be prepared before hitting the road.  From distracted drivers to non-bike-friendly streets to steep hills to fellow bikers, you can have [...]

Exploring the Great Outdoors: Top Outdoor Activities to Try in San Francisco

If you're looking for an outdoor enthusiast's Disneyland, you can find it in San Francisco.  Outdoor activities in SF have a little bit of everything. From coastal watersports to mountain hiking to scenic bike rides, you can lace up and experience the outdoors on your terms. It’s possible to live here your whole life and [...]

Is San Francisco Worth Visiting in the Winter?

Some spots just aren't as appealing to visit during the harsh winter months. The good news? San Francisco is not one of them! In fact, San Francisco takes a flip-flop approach to seasons. Summer is known to be foggy and chilly (cue Mark Twain's famous quote: "The coldest winter I've ever spent was a summer [...]

Top 7 Things to Do in San Francisco for Pride Weekend

The San Francisco Pride Celebration is the largest Pride event in the country, attracting nearly 2 million visitors. If you are planning to visit for Pride Day San Francisco, expect the city to be hustling and bustling with activities and people! There are numerous Pride-related events the last full weekend in June including the official [...]

Want a Challenge? Bike San Francisco’s Scenic Hawk Hill

Serious road bike riders from around the world find a haven on the lush, expansive trails of San Francisco and its Marin Headlands. Hawk Hill is one of the first bike rides you come to after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. It's close proximity to the City and challenging uphill climbs make it is a [...]

What To Do In San Francisco – Biking Golden Gate Park

Get the Most Out of Biking Golden Gate Park historic Shakespeare Gardens Japanese Tea Gardens Stow Lake and Strawberry Hill The Academy of Sciences de Young Museum   One of the most iconic parts of our great city is the Golden Gate Bridge. This monument to transportation is a sight to behold when you visit [...]

What to do in San Francisco – Bike the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito Day Trip

One of my favorite things about the Golden Gate Bridge bike tour to Sausalito is that it lets me take everything in without feeling caught up in the city. Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge and the Sausalito bike tour route is one of my top recommendations for beginners who want to see San Francisco [...]