SIGN UP FOR OUR EMAIL TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE SAN FRANCISCO PLANNING GUIDE.
by Jill Loeffler •
Updated: January 13, 2023
Head to the top of Twin Peaks San Francisco for some of the best views of SF and the entire Bay Area. At more than 900 feet above sea level, these two hills offer views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, downtown SF, Angel Island, and so much more.
Read on for tips on how to get here, hikes around the area, maps, parking, tours, and everything else you will need to visit. I've also included some tips for those that want to visit at night. It's a must see on your stay in the SF Bay Area!
Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.
The second highest natural point in the city, Twin Peaks is popular due to its central location and unobstructed views all around the SF Bay. It's part of a 64-acre Twin Peaks Natural Area and is free to visit 365 days a year.
Twin Peaks San Francisco is an accessible for everyone, whether you hike up, drive up, or climb further up from the parking lot. With no trees or buildings in the way, you get 360-degree views from its summits, and even if you only get out at the north-facing parking lot, it still offers an incredible vantage point of SF's treasures.
In the photo below from my last visit, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and in the background.
Alcatraz Island is also visible from the summit as you look out toward the bay.
If you plan to visit Twin Peaks San Francisco, you will want to be dressed accordingly. Due to its height, there is usually more wind up here and a temperature drop of a few degrees at its summits. Make sure to bring along a light jacket or windbreaker to stay warm and enjoy the views comfortably.
In the summer, the peaks are often a natural barrier for the ocean fog that rolls in, so you will find more fog as you face west and clearer skies as you face east.
During the winter, it can be drizzly and cold, so it's a good idea to bring an umbrella that does well in the wind. You will also find that the trails can get a little muddy during our rainy season (November - March), so make sure to wear shoes that you don't mind getting a bit dirty during this time of year.
Here are more tips on what to expect from the weather here each month of the year.
Twin Peaks San Francisco is free to visit, and open every day of the year from 5am to midnight.
You can get here by car, on foot, by public transit, or on a tour. See the sections below for more details on each of these options. Here are just a few other tips for visiting.
One of the best features of this viewpoint attraction is that you can visit any night of the year before midnight to get those amazing sunset photos or take in the dazzling city lights.
If you plan to visit after the sun goes down, I recommend driving and parking in the northern parking lot instead of hiking to the top. The area is safe, but this way you won't have to worry about the visibility of the trails and you'll still get a great view.
>> More fun things to do at night in SF
The official address is 501 Twin Peaks Blvd San Francisco, CA 94114. It's in the heart of the city and easy to find with Sutro Tower (red and white tower) that stands high above the peaks.
Here is a map of the 31-acre area. The blue star shows the northern summit and the red star shows the southern summit. The smaller purple star is the main parking lot.
You will find a parking lot on the northern side of the summits. The parking lot is small (less than 30 spots total with a couple of handicap spots), so you might have to wait in your car for up to 30 minutes before a spot opens.
If you are up for a hike to the top, you have a few additional parking options at the base. In the section below, I've outlined the trail details from these locations.
Right now, the gate leading to the parking lot through Burnett Avenue is closed and is for pedestrians only.
If you are driving, you will need to enter through Portola Drive to get to the main parking lot here.
Twin Peaks San Francisco offers the unique chance to hike without leaving the city. The trails here are not long, but you will get a great workout as they are steep.
The main hike up and down both summits is around 0.7 miles one way. Here is a picture of the trail to the top of one of the summits; the other is similar with mostly steps to the top.
You can extend your hike by parking in the neighborhood at the base and taking one of two main trails up to the peaks. We usually start at Crestline Drive, where there is plenty of parking and also where the 37 Corbett bus stop is located (see section below for tips to take the bus to this trailhead).
From there, you will climb up the eastern side of the hill and then make your way to the summits. This trail is not much longer, but it's steep and it will get your heart pumping.
Here is a map to show you where to find this trailhead to the top. The blue star shows the trailhead; the red star shows the southern summit.
There is another trail that comes in from the south. It starts near Portola Drive and Twin Peaks Boulevard. I recommend parking on Twin Peaks Boulevard or in the neighborhood on either Panorama Drive or Midcrest Way and walking over to the trailhead. You can also take the bus to this trailhead (36 or 44 from the Forest Hill Station—see my write up below for details on how to get here by bus).
You will find the trail on the other side of the silver railing along Twin Peaks Boulevard (on your right as you face up hill toward the summits). This one is longer than the Crestline trail (about 1.5 miles one-way), but does not start out as steep.
In the map below, the blue star indicates the trailhead and the red the southern summit.
The city is continually making improvements to the trails here, including updating the staircases as well as a trail that will get you closer to the mission blue butterfly habitat.
The Hills and Hidden Gems tour is a 3-hour hiking tour that includes Twin Peaks. You will not only hike to the summits here, but you will also summit two other local gems called Kite Hill and Tank Hill. You will walk through greenery, hidden parks, and well-maintained trails.
As you hike, you will also learn about the local habitat, some of the history of each location, and urban legends!
This tour runs a few days a week at 9am and 1:30pm.
>> Check for tickets and tour availability
Below you'll find my top picks for bus and city tours that visit Twin Peaks.
This 3.5-hour tour offers you the chance to see the summit of Twin Peaks San Francisco (weather permitting) as well as several other top attractions in SF. You will also see the Golden Gate Bridge, cruise through Chinatown, and see Fisherman's Wharf.
As you ride around on this comfy bus, you will also learn about the history of SF, fun facts about each attraction, and a few hidden gems. This tour runs most days at 9am and at 2pm.
>> Visit Viator for ticketing information
This all-day tour includes similar stops as outlined above, but after you are done exploring the city, you will head north over the Golden Gate Bridge to check out both the quaint town of Sausalito and the awe-inspiring redwoods of Muir Woods.
The tour lasts around 6 hours and runs most days of the week.
In addition to the Twin Peaks San Francisco tours, you can also get here on public transit. It does take a little more hiking to get to the top, but it's a fun way to visit. You can also visit by using Lyft or Uber.
You have a few options to get here on public transit. None of them will take you to the top, but instead will take you to the trailheads where you can then climb the trails to get here.
This bus has a short route that will take you within a couple of blocks of the eastern trailhead. The stop I usually use is the one at Parkridge and Crestline. From here, head over to Crestline Drive and find the stairs leading up to the trail.
When you get on the bus, you can also ask the bus driver to tell you which one is your stop. They are often friendly and are happy to help.
To catch this bus, take public transit to the Castro Street Station and then transfer to the 37.
A second option is to stay on the K, L, or M train to the Forest Hill Station, where you can then transfer to either the 36 or the 44. Take them just under a mile to the Woodside Avenue and Portola Drive stop.
From here, you would walk to Portola Drive and Twin Peaks Boulevard to start your hike to the top from the southern end. This is a longer route—almost 2 miles one way.
If you really want to enjoy a nice long scenic walk, you can even make your way over to Twin Peaks San Francisco directly from the Forest Hill Station. This is about a 3-mile walk one way with quite a bit of uphill.
If you don't want to climb to the top, but also don't want to rent a car, consider using Lyft or Uber. To cut down on the cost, first take the Muni to the Castro Street or Forest Hill Station, and then contact them from here. It's then an easy walk down with gorgeous views, or you can call a Lyft or Uber to pick you up when you are ready to leave.
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?
I would love for you join me in my private Facebook group!
It’s a great place to interact with me and others that know the area well.
You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It’s a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!