Good for: Families, dogs
Features: Sandy dunes, black sand beach, view of the ocean
Fort Funston is one of the few places on the SF coast that dogs can go off-leash. Well, technically they are supposed to be ON leash but it’s kind of an unwritten understanding that no one does. Hey, I don’t know – that’s just what I’ve been told. Anyway, Fort Funston is unlike any beach I’ve been to and not what I expected at all.
To get to the beach area, you must hike through sand-covered dunes arrayed with wild greenery. The doggies love romping through these patches but it’s not so fun picking up their mess from them. The above picture was actually taken on our way back since we forgot to snap shots earlier. Still, it’s the best one we got to show the landscape.
The terrain is fairly flat with some gentle inclines, if you take the path that goes through the tunnel (the road we took). If you take the high road then there is a bit more of a climb up and down (the road our friends took not knowing you could go the other way). If you go straight on with no interruptions, this hike can be done in about 20 minutes but will mostly likely take longer. It is easy to lose your bearings if you are not familiar with the area since there are multiple unmarked paths. Don’t worry though, you will ultimately end up at the beach at some point.
We spent half our time at this steep sand hill. The kids loved climbing up and rolling, falling, hopping, sliding, skipping, jumping, running down. The dogs did the same but it was pretty funny to see them try to lay down at such an angle to rest. One of my friends told me that her children’s clothes were as good as ruined after coming here. So much sand gets in every nook and cranny that it is almost impossible to get it all out of the fabric fibers. And, as you can imagine, the sand penetrates more than just the clothes. I’ll tell you right now that you will be scrubbing your child pretty good when you go home. As for us parents? We just watched and took pictures. After the kids’ little legs failed to support another trip up, we finally headed to the beach.
The beach is full of fine black sand and surprisingly clean. The wide open area makes for great running and playing grounds. No one really comes to this beach unless they are exercising their dogs. That means it’s practically empty with no sunbathers, volleyball games, or littered bonfire remains in sight. Isn’t it gorgeous?
The point where the sand meets the water is almost flush. This is especially appealing to young ones because it is not an intimidating cut-off. Be extra careful here, though, as it is hard to estimate where the wave will break and it seems deceivingly shallow. Also, the tide comes in VERY quickly and unexpectedly. Still, it was great to see the kids have such a great time. Some even walked away with sand balls they had made.
With children, animals, and adults completely tuckered out, we made our way back. We got turned around a few times and dawdled a bit as some stopped to shake out some sand. We moved significantly slower on the way back but at least we were all guaranteed a good night’s sleep.
Fort Funston is a great, local place to bring your dogs. If you don’t have dogs or friends with dogs, there’s really no point in coming here. It’s not a particularly beautiful hike, watching just the waves here is boring, and many of the people that frequent here are kind of eccentric or just plain weird (hey, it is still San Francisco). But, if you want to take a 2-hour nature hike with your furry friend(s), you may just want to check it out here.