The Bay Area Ridge Trail is far more than a trail: it's an odyssey. This network of connected trails will encircle the entire San Francisco Bay Area in a ring, following the ridgeline to offer unparalleled views over the city, bay, and ocean. When fully complete, 550 miles of path will link 75 parks, preserves, and open areas to form the entire Bay Area Ridge Trail. For now, 375 miles of the journey (and counting!) are already complete.
The wide variety of terrain along the Ridge Trail reflects the vibrant life of this diverse community. The trail offers urban hikes, suburban strolls, and remote treks through near-wilderness. Whether your pups want to meet the neighbors or get away from it all, the Ridge Trail has pawfect options.
A total calculation of elevation change along the trail isn't yet available. (To help generate one, download the trail tracker from the website and record your journey details to share!) However, most of the individual mapped segments have climbs of 1,000 feet or more, so be ready for hills. Free parking is available at many access points and you can even connect to the Ridge Trail via BART trains. Note that convenient parking, water fountains, and restrooms available at the various parks along the route may come at a price: State parks have up to a $10 entrance fee, for instance, and often restrict doggo access.
Because the Bay Area Ridge Trail passes through so many jurisdictions, policies about dog access and leash use vary. The majority of the Ridge trail is leash-only, but sections that pass through parks and residential communities may ban dogs: that's true at the Presidio and at S.P. Taylor, Jack London, and Castle Rock State Parks. Using park trailheads also means you'll need to adapt to the park's opening and closing hours: most common is 8 AM to sunset. Research the rules for your chosen trailhead and segment before setting out for an adventure with Fido and Fifi, and obey signage along the trail.
On the other hand, some regional park and open space segments of the Ridge Trail allow off-leash hiking for dogs under voice control. For a free-parking, dog-friendly starting point, consider hopping on the Ridge Trail at the Almaden Quicksilver County Park in San Jose (on-leash), the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez (on-leash), or the Anthony Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley (voice control).