facebook pixel

TrailfinderYour Guide to Bay Area Parks & Trails

Back to Main Map


Trailfinder sponsored by


San Bruno Mountain Summit Loop





by Transit & Trails


Wildlife Sightings

by iNaturalist


Length: 3.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: Halfday
Christina Vallianos
Created by Christina Vallianos

Good for:
  • Birding
  • Kids
  • Views
  • Wildflowers
  • Chaparral
  • Forests and Woodlands
  • Grasslands
  • Accessible Parking



The Summit Loop Trail in San Bruno Mountain State Park offers a chance for city residents to experience nearby nature while taking in panoramic views of the Bay Area.  But don’t expect to be fully immersed in a quiet forest – the radio towers at the summit and the traffic below create an industrial buzz that’s present for nearly half of the hike.


At the trailhead, you’ll have a choice of which direction you want to begin the loop.  Both are probably similar in terms of up and downhill portions, but I chose to go to the left.  As you begin climbing away from the road and parking lot, you’ll pass through eucalyptus, chaparral, and grassland habitats. The path is somewhat rocky, but well maintained as you rise via a series of switchbacks.  Keep an eye out for the poison oak that lines the trail much of the way. Near the summit, there’s a turnoff to the left for a lookout area with a bench.  The city and bay views from here are absolutely stunning.  Take a few moments to identify your favorite San Francisco landmarks from this vantage point.


As you reach the summit, you’ll see and hear the radio towers all around you – these are unsightly and take away from the panoramic view.  Cross the road and continue on the trail down the backside of the mountain with views of Colma and Daly City, Montara Mountain, and the Pacific.  The trail continues to wind down and around the north side of the mountain through grassland and plentiful wildflowers before passing through more eucalyptus as the trail nears a small creek.  Pass over a small bridge amidst the ferns as the trail begins to climb upward again and crosses the Radio Road once more before it reaches the parking lot.  The trail can be completed within two hours.


Notes: Make sure to bring exact change for the self-registration parking fee ($6).  The area surrounding the parking lot has picnic tables and grills and is perfect for group picnics; come prepared to spend the afternoon here!


powered by Flickr

Get Involved: Become a trailblazer, Review this Park, Log Wildlife Sightings, and Submit Photos.


Lo Pupafr on June 12th, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Really enjoyed the summit loop walk.
It took us just over 3 hours talking it quite slowly in the anti-clockwise direction as recommended.
My mother did this walk with me and she is 77 years old although she is in pretty good shape. Lots of flowers on the lower parts of the walk and phenomenal views starting at about half way up and they get better and better as you climb. The towers didn’t really bother us that much.
The climb is gradual and only relatively strenuous. The path can be a bit stony in places so wear good walking shoes. I had thin soles and my feet were feeling it towards the end.
Entry is free for seniors Monday to Friday (as of June 2013)

Dan Rademacher on June 12th, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Thanks, Lo, for sharing your experience with us! So glad you and your mom enjoyed this hike!

Leave a Comment