John McLaren Park is the second largest park in the city of San Francisco, surpassed only by Golden Gate Park. Located in the city’s southernmost region, the park is considered something of a hidden gem by locals and city natives. In total, McLaren Park is spread out over 315 acres, and best of all for San Francisco pups, there's two separate off-leash dog play areas!
The area contained within the John F. Shelley Drive Loop and Mansell Street makes up the larger of the two areas, and is often called the McLaren Amphitheater Dog Play Area for its proximity to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. You and your dog will love exploring the 60 acres of trails, shaded groves, gentle hills, and open fields. There are four major open spaces for dogs to run, as well as a lake where they can dip their paws or go for a swim. Most of the area is wide open for hiking, running, dog walking, and exploration. Note that this area is not fenced, and houses many other park features such as the amphitheater, the Redwood Grove, and picnic areas. Be sure your dog is good under voice command, and always stay within sight.
Two bathrooms are on site, one near the amphitheater and the other near the lake. Clean-up bags are sometimes provided, but are sparse, so be sure to bring your own. Two rest areas with benches can be located near the lake for your convenience.
At the southernmost entry point into John McLaren Park lies the second off-leash dog play area, called the McLaren Park Geneva Dog Play Area. At just under an acre, this area is located off of Geneva Street, with parking available around the 1600 block. A lot of the area is on a moderate incline. Trees to the southeast offer shady resting areas, and a lookout outcropping of rocks called “Lover’s Rock” offers a sweeping view of the dog play area. Restrooms are located near the park’s soccer fields. It is important to note that this area is not fenced in several stretches and exposed to the road. Your dog should be under firm voice control at all times. Bring water and clean-up bags to this off leash area as well.
Outside of the off leash areas, your dog can explore more of McLaren Park on leash, including its 7 miles of trails. The majority of the park’s plant and animal life is naturally occurring and well-preserved, making it feel much more like a small national or state park than the public city-funded park that it is. You and your dog will love exploring this park, as it is truly an experience to remember.