I initially put this page up with information that was accurate as of 1995 or so and I must admit to not having maintained it actively. There have been many changes since it first went up. An up to date listing of dog parks in SF, including off-leash areas can be found here. The largest change of which I am aware is the change in dog policy at the GGNRA.
The Park Service has brought policy there in line with that of other national parks, banning off leash dogs completely from all areas of the park, including the Presidio. This is the legal policy. This doesn't mean that in practice it is always followed as one can often see off leash pets at some locations that I will decline to state at present.
The debate over dog policy at the GGNRA has been to use a single word "unfortunate." I firmly believe that the (lack of reasonable) dialog situation with the GGNRA and dog owners groups has gotten well out of hand because of both sides of that debate being intractable and that is a shame that diminishes all sides in the debate. The park updated the regulations without sufficient public input and without taking into account the history and historical use of parts of the land encompassed by the GGNRA. The dog owner groups failed to appreciate the damage and harm that their loved pets can cause in terms of disturbance of wildlife and habitat - particularly for species such as the snowy plover. It is a shame that neither side has been willing to see, from this observer's viewpoint, any validity in the arguments of the other, I think a lot of progress could be made were the right leaders on each side to be willing to do so. Use of public lands by Americans and their pets constitutes a form of supportable multiple use - one that ought be supported in a reasonable fashion by the park service. Likewise, dog owners can not be so self centered as to beleive that their charges can do no harm and need to be more responsible vis-a-vis ensuring their use of park areas doesn't harm wildlife populations.
San Francisco's Officially Sanctioned DogZones
Within the City of San Francisco, local regulations dictate that "dogs must be leashed at ALL times when not on their owner's property." This is a drag, but to mitigate the severity of this harsh and unjust regulation, the SF Recreation and Park Department has designated the following areas where dogs may run off leash, provided they are with their humans:
Please remember to clean up after you dog. While there is a Health Code which provides for fines in the event you fail to do so, it is much more important that you do so out of common courtesy. Besides, if you don't clean up you dog's poop, YOU could step in it next time you go out.
- Golden Gate Park (SE):
- Section bounded by Lincoln Way, King Drive, 2nd and 7th Avenues.
- Golden Gate Park (NE):
- Northeast corner at Stanyan and Grove Streets.
- Golden Gate Park (SW):
- Section bounded by King Drive, Middle Drive, 34th and 38th Avenues.
- Golden Gate Park (NW):
- Dog Training Area (fenced), at 38th and Fulton Streets.
- Buena Vista Park:
- Buena Vista West and Central Street.
- Mountain Lake Park:
- East End at 8th Avenue.
- Stern Grove (North side):
- Wawona Street between 21st and 23rd Avenues.
- Lake Merced (North Section):
- Lake Merced Boulevard and Middlefield.
- Bernal Heights: - author's recommendation
- Entire top section bounded by Bernal Heights Boulevard. This is an absolutely great place to walk, the vistas are spectacular. There is ample parking. Some two years ago or so one person was mugged on the hill, while I think it is generally safe it is important to use common sense when walking at night.
- McLaren Park (North):
- Top section bounded by Shelley Drive.
- McLaren Park (South):
- South section, accessible via the 1600 block of Geneva or Sunnydale.
- Potrero Hill Mini Park:
- 22nd Street between Arkansas and Connecticut.
- Dolores Park:
- 18th Street between Dolores and Church Streets.
- Lafayette Park:
- Sacramento between Octavia and Gough.
- Corona Heights:
- Area adjacent to Randall Field, Museum and Roosevelt Ways.
- Alta Plaza Park:
- Clay between Scott & Steiner on 2nd Terrace.
- Douglas Playground:
- Between the fence and Diamond Heights boulevard at the end of 27th Street.
There are a few other areas that are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Presidio where there are still some decent opportunities for phideaux and you to get out and about. The best resource for areas open to dogs under current policy is this map. The Park Service's read on it's 'process' regarding revisions to the once more liberal dog policies is available here. The above link represents the park's read on current process as regards policy revision. Most balanced observers outside the park service would not necessarily honor the policy revisions to date by GGNRA by using the word 'process.' The park service slammed the door shut on a 1979 policy allowing off-leash use of areas of the park in 2001 and is now pasting together a process to cover their tracks. Bad park service. This type of behaviour on the part of the park service and their current focus on 'bringing policy at the GGNRA in line' with current federal norms undercuts the weight of the arguments regarding real and important needs for safeguards for species such as the snowy plover, a federally listed endangered species. The need to provide both temporary and permanent closures of some areas can not be confused with a need for blanket prohibitions of off leash use of all areas of the GGNRA. The lack of public participation in the policy revision that initially reversed the 1979 formal pet policy allowing off-leash areas should be a warning to other municipalities and states that would consider transferring lands to park service ownership as was the case for many areas of the GGNRA in San Francisco such as Fort Funston.
For more info on dog policies of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, please call (415)561-4700.
If you have any additional information to contribute to this guide,
please e-mail Stella the Wonder Dog.
Take me back where I came from!