No need to travel to New Zealand to visit Middle Earth. San Francisco’s Mount Sutro Open Space is practically Hobbiton—a hidden “shire” in the middle of the city. Okay, maybe not quite as magical, but still an incredible place to take a hike in city limits. There are multiple ways to access this open space.
We recommend starting at the secret stairway off of Stanyan and 17th Street for a 2-mile (round-trip) hike through verdant forest and towering eucalyptus trees, with sneak-a-peek views of the Pacific at the summit. Start by steadily ascending on the Fairy Gates Trail (yep, switchbacks exist in the city!).
Along the way you’ll pass some artistic woodcarvings (done by local hobbits?). The final push to the 900-foot peak of Mount Sutro is on the North Ridge Trail. You won’t get big views from up here due to the thick eucalyptus forest. But as you descend the East Ridge and Mystery Trails you’ll get some quick glimpses of the ocean and even the Golden Gate Bridge. Short and Sutro sweet!
TIP: A few blocks away inoVino wine bar is a great spot to toast the hobbits. The Italian varietals are standout, and the food menu creative and diverse enough to keep the pairings interesting. The cheese plates in particular earn extra points. (Closed Sundays.)