San Francisco's Middle Earth

Hiking San Francisco's Mount Sutro

Hiker in the forest at Mount Sutro in San Francisco

No need to travel to New Zealand to visit Middle Earth. San Francisco’s Mount Sutro Open Space is practically Hobbiton—a hidden “shire” in the middle of the city. Okay, maybe not quite as magical, but still an incredible place to take a hike in city limits. There are multiple ways to access this open space.

We recommend starting at the secret stairway off of Stanyan and 17th Street for a 2-mile (round-trip) hike through verdant forest and towering eucalyptus trees, with sneak-a-peek views of the Pacific at the summit. Start by steadily ascending on the Fairy Gates Trail (yep, switchbacks exist in the city!).

Along the way you’ll pass some artistic woodcarvings (done by local hobbits?). The final push to the 900-foot peak of Mount Sutro is on the North Ridge Trail. You won’t get big views from up here due to the thick eucalyptus forest. But as you descend the East Ridge and Mystery Trails you’ll get some quick glimpses of the ocean and even the Golden Gate Bridge. Short and Sutro sweet!

Hiker going up stairs to enter Mount Sutro in San Francisco

Hiker on a trail at Mount Sutro in San Francisco

Hiker looking up at trees in Mount Sutro San Francisco

Hiker in Mount Sutro forest in San Francisco

TIP: A few blocks away inoVino wine bar is a great spot to toast the hobbits. The Italian varietals are standout, and the food menu creative and diverse enough to keep the pairings interesting. The cheese plates in particular earn extra points. (Closed Sundays.)

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Two women at the entrance of the Lavender Labyrinth at Bees N Blooms in Santa Rosa

    Lavender Labyrinth

    Labyrinths are meditative meanders. Add fragrant organic lavender and you're at Bees N Blooms at the foot of Taylor Mountain near Santa Rosa, experiencing their “ancient pathway of peace” and more.

  2. Can't Top This

    San Francisco’s Presidio was already a fantastic place to hang out for the afternoon, a beautiful site within the largest urban national park in the United States (the Golden Gate National Recreation Area). And the new Presidio Tunnel Tops is like a cherry on top. Tunnel Tops is just as it sounds: a park on top of tunnels! Presidio Parkway tunnels to be precise.

  3. You Know Kehoe?

    Hiking with your dog in a national park? Almost unheard of! But Point Reyes National Seashore has an easy and short hiking trail to a stunning beach that’s dog-friendly on its north side. Kehoe Beach is a beautiful place to hang out even if you don’t have a dog.

  4. Little Hike in the Big Woods

    Redwoods, river crossings, waterfalls, and wildflowers—the South Bay’s Portola Redwoods State Park packs a lot of nature’s best features. Enjoy them hiking this 2.5-mile loop.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Flavors of Fillmore

    Fill up on Fillmore! This picturesque city in the Santa Clara River Valley is an ideal day trip for finding good nature and delicious locally grown food. Explore it all via a 5-mile out-and-back walk or bike ride.

  2. Sponsored

    Sea It All This Spring!

    Go deeper on your next adventure! Monterey Bay Aquarium allows you to go Into the Deep. Be mesmerized by the flashy, iridescent, and adorable creatures in the ever-evolving, fully bilingual exhibit

  3. Peak a-’bu

    Summiting Sandstone Peak is a premier 6-mile (round-trip) classic adventure delivering a dramatic, ever-changing landscape and some of Southern California’s most cinematic views.

  4. Do it Yourself Walking Tour of Solvang

    Solvang has long been described as a “little slice of Denmark in Southern California." Experience the historic village on a 3-mile walk that explores the architecture, food, wine, and green space.