The Presidio was founded in 1776 as a Spanish fort, then served as a US military establishment beginning in 1848 and up until this waterfront spot became a national park in 1990. The short, dog-friendly Ecology Trail is an effort-efficient way to sample the variety of natural beauty in this landscape. In a mere 1.4-mile loop, your fur family can enjoy the towering redwoods with Monterrey pine and cyprus, as well as open hilltops and some of the park's best views at Inspiration Point Overlook.
Access the Overlook via a short spur trail about 0.6 miles from the trailhead. Though you'll take on some steep grades (up to 18%) to reach it, you won't regret a single step. From this vantage point, you'll have a furrific view of the historic architecture of the Presidio. To the north, you'll see the Bay, including Alcatraz, Angel Island, and artist Andy Goldsworthy's Spire, a 100-foot wooden sculpture paying tribute to the Presidio's reforestation. Think of the dog pics you can take!
The journey there and back will feel surprisingly peaceful considering your in-town location. Wildflowers bloom in spring and early summer, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds for your pups to bark at. The Ecology Trail forms a loop, with the lower trail open to bikers and the upper trail reserved for pedestrians and paw-destrians.
The well-tended natural surface is manageable for pups of all sizes and fitness levels (but would be a challenge for strollers). It's easy to take a wrong turn thanks to several trails that converge and branch off along the way, but we can think of worse ways to spend an extra hour. Connections to the Bay Area Ridge Trail and Mountain Lake Trail make it tempting to expand your route.
The trail is easy to reach by bike or city bus, but parking is a challenge at the Presidio. A few parking lots are available but space is competitive. Buy a parking permit from the self-service machines; permits range from $1.50 to $2.50 per hour and up to $10.50 for a full day. Or, consider your parking options farther afield and explore the neighborhood on your way to and from the park.