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Where to walk off your Thanksgiving feast around San Francisco

The trails through Glen Canyon provide views of Sutro Tower. | Alexandra Kenin

Sometimes a long holiday weekend of friends, family and feasting can become too much of too many good things. 

What to do when the belly and the house feel too full? Head outside! Getting some fresh air and scenery can ease stress and get your metabolism firing again. 

Got folks in town who aren’t used to SF’s hills? Head to one of these eight walks on flat, easy terrain found all throughout the city.  

8 Flat and Easy Places to Walk in San Francisco

The SF Turkey Trot

The SF Turkey Trot is a Golden Gate Park tradition held on the park’s Polo Fields. On the race’s Thanksgiving “menu” are a timed 5-mile trail run, an untimed 3-mile walk and a kids’ “Gobbler Chase” that clocks in at just 100 meters. Not a runner? Join the spectators who sit on the sidelines and watch the fun. It’s a great way to spend the morning before you fill your plate.

The Turkey Trot in Golden Gate Park is a San Francisco Thanksgiving tradition. | Alexandra Kenin

Glen Canyon Park

Glen Canyon Park is one of the best places in the city to feel like you’re not in the city. This 66.6-acre canyon has two flat, wide dirt trails that run along either side of Islais Creek. Those feeling more adventurous can head up to the upper trails to get a closer view of the rock formations. If you’re coming from Glen Park BART, take the Glen Park Greenway, and don’t miss the newly painted Burnside Stairway.

The JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park

The JFK Promenade is 1.5 miles of paved road in Golden Gate Park is now completely turned over to pedestrians and cyclists after the recent election. Along the Promenade, walkers, bikers and skaters pass by the Doggie Diner heads, various art projects, food trucks, live music and even a beer garden. 

Artwork lines JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park now that it will be permanently car-free. | Alexandra Kenin

A Stow Lake Loop

Stow Lake is a micro-adventure in Golden Gate Park. Walk around the flat paved path that circles the lake, or use one of the two bridges to walk onto Strawberry Hill where you can circle the island on a dirt trail. Those with extra energy can climb to the top of the hill to reach the highest point in the park—and those wanting to eschew a walk entirely can rent a rowboat or pedal boat and float the route.

The Great Highway, aka The Great Walkway

Like the JFK Promenade in Golden Gate Park, SF voted to keep parts of the Great Highway closed to cars at all times and open only to cyclists and pedestrians. Head to the Great Highway between Lincoln Way and Skyline Boulevard to enjoy a 17-acre, 2-mile open space that is flat, paved and makes for a scenic outing on clear days.

Now that SF voters passed a measure to keep part of the Great Highway car-free, the area makes a great destination for walking, biking and skating. | Alexandra Kenin

The Presidio Promenade Trail

The Presidio Promenade is a 2.1-mile trail that brings you from the Presidio Main Post to the Golden Gate Bridge. On your way, you’ll see the San Francisco National Cemetery, the old Cavalry Stables, Crissy Field from above, and, of course, the bridge. But you might get no farther than the new Tunnel Tops and Battery Bluff parks that greet you at the trail’s start. The route has some elevation up to the bridge but is paved so that even families with strollers or wheelchairs can enjoy it. And of course, prepare for a 4-plus mile walk if you want to make it a round trip.

view of buildings at Crissy Field
The Presidio Promenade trail provides excellent views of Crissy Field and downtown. | Alexandra Kenin

Crissy Field Trails

This classic San Francisco walk with Golden Gate Bridge and bay views never disappoints. Start your walk at Crissy Field East Beach or west of Crissy Field Marsh and turn around at Fort Point or anywhere before. If it’s a cold day, duck into the Warming Hut for hot chocolate.

The Salesforce Park Gardens

Salesforce Park brings some much-needed green space to Downtown San Francisco. This 4-block, 5.4-acre rooftop park is reminiscent of New York’s High Line. The park is four floors above the city’s busy streets and landscaped with 600 trees and 16,000 plants in 13 mini botanical gardens that shimmer in the reflection of the surrounding office towers.

Salesforce Park is an urban oasis South of Market. | Alexandra Kenin

Read More from Our Guide to the Best of Thanksgiving in San Francisco

Check out The Standard's 2022 Thanksgiving Guide to find new ideas on everything from where to buy takeout turkey and unique pies, to where to volunteer and stroll off your feast.

Much of Thanksgiving weekend in the SF Bay Area takes place in the outdoors. | Getty Images