Lake Merced is a popular refuge for nature lovers, occupying over 600 acres of land in San Francisco’s southwest corner. Views of the lake and numerous winding trails offer dog walkers, joggers, bikers, fishermen, and trail runners a tranquil vista to explore. For those seeking some off-leash fun, the five-acre dog park at the park’s northeastern tip is the perfect place to play.
A thin, unpaved trail allows dog walkers a chance to take their dog through the majority of the off-leash dog play area. Dense greenery and the park’s natural, preserved foliage make it difficult for dogs and their owners to go exploring off trail in most places, but there are several open areas where dogs can get up to speed. Aside from the fountains and restrooms located by the parking lot, there are no convenient facilities along the trail.
Shady trees scattered along the trail and benches situated along the lake’s bank provide places of rest for walkers to enjoy, all while in full view of Lake Merced. As you walk, you will begin to feel fully removed from the surrounding cityscape. Lake Merced’s off-leash dog play area is one of several public parks managed by San Francisco Recreation and Parks. Locals and regulars are known to be friendly, so you might make a new friend or two while visiting!
There are no poop bags provided by the park, but the city requires that you pick up after your dog, so you should anticipate bringing your own bags. Additionally, while this is an excellent park for walking and hiking, dog owners report that the park is not the ideal place to go and play fetch or any games requiring wide-open space.
Standing on the shore of a lake and taking in the sunshine is one of the most relaxing and pleasant experiences you could share with your dog. If that sounds like a good day to you, then Lake Merced is your place to walk, reflect, and simply enjoy the day.