Exploring Pipeline-esque Peaks in San Francisco’s Landscape


San Francisco is home to 48 named hills, with elevations ranging from 200 to over 900 feet. These peaks offer stunning views of the city skyline, bay, and beyond.

Key Points

  • San Francisco’s hills provide panoramic views and unique hiking opportunities
  • Twin Peaks is the city’s second highest summit at 922 feet, featuring an observation area
  • Urban trails like the Coastal Trail and Bay Area Ridge Trail wind through San Francisco’s peaks

San Francisco’s hilly terrain is a defining characteristic of the city. The undulating landscape was shaped by the San Andreas Fault, which runs along the peninsula. This geology has created a network of peaks that rise above the city streets, offering both scenic vistas and recreational escapes.

One of the most prominent peaks is Twin Peaks, an 922-foot summit in the heart of San Francisco. Composed of two adjacent hills, Twin Peaks is the city’s second highest point after Mount Davidson. An observation area at the top provides 360-degree views stretching from the Bay Bridge to Golden Gate Park.

For adventurous locals and visitors, San Francisco’s peaks represent an urban hiking paradise with numerous trails to explore. Winding through the city’s natural areas and hilltop parks, these trails are popular with walkers, joggers, and sightseers.

The Coastal Trail is a prime example, tracing the edge of the city from Lands End in the north to Fort Funston in the south. This 11-mile route traverses rugged bluffs and windswept peaks, with detours to scenic overlooks and secluded beaches along the way.

Another option is the Bay Area Ridge Trail, a planned 550-mile loop encircling the entire Bay Area. Over 80 miles of trail are open so far, including a San Francisco segment that climbs Twin Peaks and Mount Sutro. Hikers can link up different preserves and parks in the city for an all-day trek.

Of course, you don’t have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy San Francisco’s elevated topography. Plenty of short walks and stairway hikes lead to panoramic viewpoints as well. The Filbert Steps and 16th Avenue Tiled Steps are two scenic routes popular with residents and tourists alike.

Whether you tackle an ambitious trail or simply drive up to an overlook, San Francisco’s peaks reveal new perspectives on the city’s varied landscapes and landmarks. They showcase the wild side of this urban environment, a realm of coastal bluffs, eucalyptus groves, and windblown grasslands all within city limits.


What are the best peaks in San Francisco for views?

Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson, and Bernal Heights Park are three of the best spots for panoramic views. On a clear day, you can see the downtown skyline, San Francisco Bay, and even as far as Mount Diablo in the East Bay.

Are there any guided hikes in San Francisco?

Yes, several organizations lead guided hikes in San Francisco’s parks and natural areas. The Sierra Club and San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department offer regular outings for all experience levels.

Can I hike at night on San Francisco’s peaks?

Most of San Francisco’s parks are open from 5am to midnight, so you can hike in the evening to catch the sunset or city lights. However, be sure to stay on marked trails, carry a flashlight, and hike with a buddy for safety.

Are dogs allowed on trails in San Francisco?

Many trails in San Francisco allow dogs, as long as they are kept on leash. Some popular dog-friendly hikes include Bernal Heights Park, Fort Funston, and Lands End. Always pick up after your pet and follow posted regulations.

What is the weather like for hiking in San Francisco?

San Francisco’s climate is mild year-round, but the city is known for its microclimates and quickly changing conditions. Coastal hikes are often cool and windy, so wear layers. Expect fog in the summer and occasional rain in the winter. Always check the forecast before heading out.

From the top of any peak, San Francisco unfolds in a dazzling panorama of urban and natural beauty. These hills are more than just scenery though – they are living landscapes laced with trails and stories. To explore them on foot is to experience the wild heart of the city and see San Francisco from a whole new angle.

SF Citizen Team

About the author

SF Citizen is your local guide to San Francisco, leading you through the city's iconic landmarks, hidden gems, and vibrant experiences. From the historic echoes of the Gold Rush era to stunning hikes in Muir Woods and the rich culinary scene, we provide meticulously curated explorations of this dynamic city. Whether you're planning your next adventure, considering a move, or exploring from afar, SF Citizen navigates you through the diverse neighborhoods, cultural scenes, and outdoor activities, helping you discover and connect with the city's soul.