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South San Francisco, California, United States

San Bruno Mountain, Ridge Trail and Summit Loop

Hike the popular wilderness preserve on this great San Francisco Peninsula hike.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.5 miles / 5.6 km
Duration: Half day
Overview: Looming large over San Francisco and the northern peninsula, the wilderness preserve of San Bruno Mountain state and county park is home to several rare and endangered species of flora, fauna and wildlife, including the elfin butterfly.

Our guide focuses on two popular hikes.

The 3½ mile Summit Loop trail takes a counter-clockwise route around the Western side of the mountain, ambling through vegetation and slowly ascending to reveal the views of Sutro Tower, San Francisco and a distant Mount Tamalpais. More views are revealed at the top of the mountain, looking south towards the coastal range, west to the ocean and east to Mount Diablo and the San Francisco Bay.

The longer 7 mile hike along the Ridge Trail (1,400ft elevation gain) heads East and provides grandstand views of the San Francisco Bay geography.

• Pick a nice clear day for this hike as San Bruno Mountain can be a magnet for clouds and fog.
• Paid parking is available inside the State Park entrance off Guadalupe Canyon Parkway.

Points of Interest


Trailhead - San Bruno State Park

The trailhead for both the Summit Loop and Ridge Trails begin at the South parking lot. Enter at the main State Park entrance, proceed past the first parking lot and continue under the road to the South lot.

The parking area closes at dusk, so be sure to return to your car in time to avoid being ticketed or locked in.

Ridge Trail hikers (7 miles & 1400ft elevation) should take an Easterly route along the Eucalyptus Trail and up the Dairy Ravine Trail towards the ridgeline.

Summit Loop hikers (3½ miles & 500ft elevation) should head West to the Summit Loop junction.

[JCT] Summit Loop

We recommend that Summit Loop hikers take a counter-clockwise route which provides only a gradual and very pleasant incline up the 500ft of elevation gain, coupled with the best orientation to enjoy the views.

At this junction Summit Loop hikers should take a right turn, crossing Radio Road, and continuing in a Westerly direction into hillside chaparral.

[JCT] Summit Loop/Ridge Trail

Just below the towering radio and television transmitters which dominate the landscape is the intersection of the Summit Loop and Ridge Trail routes.

Head Southwesterly to explore the Ridge Trail, or take the downhill direction if you're concluding the Summit Trail.

[JCT] Summit Loop/Dairy Ravine Trail

Returning Summit Loop hikers should continue downhill in either direction, although the left-handed trail will get you back quicker.

End of Ridge Trail

You won't find a definitive end to the Ridge Trail, and we draw our line here with some nice views overlooking the South San Francisco and Brisbane shorelines.

Should your appetite for hiking continue then feel free to proceed onward as the train heads further downhill and increases in steepness.

[JCT] Dairy Ravine/Eucalyptus Loop


[JCT] Summit Loop/Eucalyptus


[JCT] Ridge Trail/Quarry Rd


[JCT] Ridge Trail/Brisbane

Pictures in this guide taken by: Trailspotting

Trailspotting content © Stuart Green 2010 including text, images, videos and route detail.
Close to the city and enjoyable enough. You still get city noise on the ridge but you have 360 degree views--bay to South San Francisco to ocean horizon to city skyline. Be sure to have exactly $6 to pay for parking. Do not follow the parking directions on the mobile app--they wound me through a neighborhood where there was no trailhead--or least that I could find.
Visited on Dec 06, 2012

by pmreeve on Dec 08, 2012

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