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Running The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco: Advice & Top Tips

So you’re planning a visit to San Francisco and want to go on some interesting scenic runs in the city. And so you should – San Francisco is one of the BEST cities for scenic runs, especially if you like hills, and running the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the MUST-DO runs during your visit to the city.

Even if you end up running the Golden Gate Bridge on a foggy day and can’t see the views, that’s ok, too – it’s nice and cool, and a fun experience to run through the famous San Francisco fog. 

How to go running on the Golden Gate Bridge when in San Francisco

Assuming you are staying in San Francisco during your visit to the Bay Area, then you have a lot of choice when it comes to deciding how to go running on the Golden Gate Bridge. 

First, you need to make some decisions:

  1. How far do you want to run?
  2. Are you happy to run out and back over the bridge, or do you want to run one-way?
  3. Where you want to start your run from?
  4. How you will get to the start and finish points of your planned run?

Running over the Golden Gate Bridge… or beyond? How far do you want to run?

The Golden Gate Bridge itself is around 1.7 miles long, so a full out-and-back run along the bridge would be around 3.4 miles, or a 5k. To do this you would need to park at or close to one end of the bridge.

If you’re looking to run further than 5k, then you have an infinite number of options.

Here are my top suggestions for planning your running routes when you want to go running in the San Francisco area that feature the Golden Gate Bridge:

Option 1: Hotel to the Golden Gate Bridge… and back again

From a Nob Hill/North Beach location hotel, you could run to the bridge from your hotel, and for a traffic and hill-free run, head to the Embarcadero and keep the bay on your right until you get to the path that leads up to the Golden Gate Bridge (which you can’t miss). The Embarcadero is the road that runs along the bayfront on the north and east side of San Francisco.

The Embarcadero has a pedestrian sidewalk, although note it gets very crowded with tourists, so this is best for early or late runs. Take your phone in case you end up running further than expected, that way you can call a taxi or rideshare for a lift back home, if needed!

Option 2: Park at one end of the Golden Gate Bridge

Travel (drive, bus or cycle) to one of the car parks at either end of the bridge, and run over it from there, and back again. An option if you’re staying far from the bridge or you don’t want to run very far at either end – this should be around 5k in distance.

Option 3: Run from the City over the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands

If I was to do this option, then I would park on the city side (such as in Langdon Court or Battery Cranston car parks) or get the bus / a rideshare to there, and run North over the Golden Gate bridge, then you have the option of heading up the SCA Trail that runs from the small west-side car park (‘North Tower Golden Gate Parking’), up into the Marin Headlands.

Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)
Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)
Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)
Plexus Co. (dba Chirp)

Once in the Marin Headlands, you’re on trails and could run for miles and miles, taking in some epic views in the process – just make sure you leave energy for your return run back!

Running the Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco
Just one of the beautiful running trails in the Marin Headlands

Option 4: Run the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito – return by Ferry

Run over the Golden Gate Bridge from the city, and down into the cute artsy town of Sausalito. Sausalito is a great place to grab some food or a drink – and then you can catch the ferry back into the city!

Alternatively, depending on where you’re going, the time of day and if you’re with running companions, you could also catch a rideshare back into the city. Check the ferry schedule as they do not run late, so if you go in the afternoon then a rideshare or bus would likely be your only option for a return journey.

Video: Running the Golden Gate Bridge

Here’s a video of us running the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin (north end of the bridge) towards the city. When we arrived at the city/Presidio end of the bridge, we headed down to the waterfront by Crissy Field, before turning around and heading back over the bridge. We parked on the north side of the bridge because we lived in Marin County, and did not need to drive over the bridge (or pay the toll for doing so), but it works either way!

Advice for running the Golden Gate Bridge

  • Check the weather before you run, and make sure you take sun protection (cap, cream and sunglasses) and water. I would also recommend taking a windproof jacket, as it can get very windy and cool over the bridge, especially if it is foggy
  • Don’t let the fog put you off running over the Golden Gate Bridge. I see that as part of the experience! If you don’t believe me, watch our video that was filmed in thick, chilly fog – we had some much fun!
  • Head on this run early in the morning to beat the crowds. If you go in the middle of the day, be prepared for some stopping and starting to dodge the many people who come to stroll across the bridge and take photos/selfies
  • Another reason to start early if you’re planning to park near the bridge is that the car parks fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist season such as holidays, weekends and summertime.
  • You’ll quickly notice when running the Golden Gate Bridge that it is NOT FLAT! The bridge gradually ascends from either end, so it will feel harder than you may expect, as you have to run very slightly uphill until you reach the middle of the bridge. Be warned 🙂

Other Trail & Kale running short films you may enjoy

Our YouTube channel includes running gear reviews, workout videos and short running films from all over the world, including California, Oregon, New Zealand and the French Alps. Here are a few other videos you may enjoy:

Also we have loads of content on running in these beautiful places and more, right here on our blog. I hope you enjoy having a read!

Filming Gear used in our video


Visit Zappos for discounts on last season's On running shoes.
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Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
Hey, I'm Alastair. I started Trail & Kale as a way to share the mental & physical benefits that trail running and nature had given me. Trail & Kale has since grown to become a thriving blog and community that inspires people to trail run, hike, adventure more, and live a healthy plant-based lifestyle.
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