San Francisco is a great city for longboard skateboarding, with plenty of good places for flatland cruising and freeride/downhill skating.
Newcomers, however, often have a hard time finding out about the best longboarding spots in the Bay Area, as the longboard skateboarding community does not really have a single meeting place that riders can turn to for information and contacts.
While heading to San Francisco, I did some research to find good places where I could longboard, that is nice cruising areas or mellow hills with low traffic and smooth terrain to freeride on. In this post, I will share everything I’ve found.
Longboarding in the San Francisco peninsula
The Golden Gate Park
One of the greatest spots for general longboarding in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Park! You can ride down some steep hills and take the Muni (trolleys) back up to the top of the hill, so you don’t need to walk back up.
For example, you can longboard down the Martin Luther King Jr Drive from the Botanical Garden (at 9th and Lincoln) all the way down to the beach at the Lincoln Way intersection. Alternatively you can run down Middle Drive West (instead of Martin Luther King) which has even better hills.
Right before your reach the beach, you can turn onto La Playa Street, which has a very smooth surface, and ride it for 2 blocks until you reach Judah Street. There you can catch the muni to go back up.
Another option is to stay on the North side of the park and skate down JFK Drive. There’s a short uphill section west of the Academy of Science but other than that it’s all downhill, all the way down to the beach and Great Highway. You can then catch the muni on Fulton Street (bordering the North side of the park) all the way to the East side of the park on Stanyan Street. Then you can get ready for your next epic downhill ride.
The Sunset district South of the park is a good spot for residential hills. For example, you can cruise on Noriega Street from Inner Sunset to the beach. It’s a smooth surfaced, wide street with a gentle steady slope and mellow traffic. You’ll enjoy a great view going down toward the ocean.
East of Sunset, you’ll also find some nice roads to ride downhill around Twin Peak Lookout Point, a renowned 64-acre park with hiking trails and 180º views of the Bay Area.
Longboard downtown during the day is tough because of the heavy traffic and the trolley tracks. Some longboarders like to go riding in that area at night, however. The area near Pleasant Street (Nob Hill) has a mild slope and less traffic. You can also ride Post street downhill all the way to Powell. You might also cruise around North Beach at night and bomb some hills, provided you can handle the trolley tracks.
On the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, in the national recreation area, Conzelman Road offers a nice fast run with small turns. You can walk up the hill all the way to a dead end and bomb the hill for a nice freeride longboard session.
longboarding around Berkeley & Claremont
The Berkeley area has some great hills to freeride on. The Lawrence Hall of Science
Tunnel Road is a mellower and very smooth road that takes you above the Caldecott tunnel – you’ll see a lot of bikers on that road. You can start half way up to Skyline for a less extreme and high-speed ride.
Way further East in Walnut Creek, Arbolado Drive is another nice spot with long runs, mellower inclines, very smooth pavement, and low traffic:
Lonboarding in the Oakland and Piedmont area
You can find some good roads for freeriding East of Lake Merritt. For example, you can longboard down MacArthur Boulevard and turn left on Wesley Avenue toward the lake. The road is has a good incline but be ready for some significant traffic.
You can also find some good hills for longboarding around Mountain Street in Piedmont.
Longboarding around Napa Valley
You can take a nice relaxed 1-mile mild downhill cruise in the Napa area from Browns Valley Road (where it crosses Buhman Avenue) to the Premium Outlets near the freeway. Be aware there’s gravel all over, so gear up with larger wheels.
Hiddenbrooke, an upscale neighborhood in American Canyon between Napa and Vallejo, is another cool longboarding place with very very smooth streets and very steep big hills, many of which end onto upward roads. There is little traffic being a residential community distant from urban zones.
Longboarding in Mountain View, Monterrey & Carmel
South of the city, in Mountain View, Stevens Creek Trail is a well-known longboarding spot with smooth roads and some hills, although few riders
Much further South, the Monterrey and Carmel area has quite a few good spots to go longboard riding. Jack’s Peak is a popular longboarding spot with great slopes and super smooth pavement for fast freeride and downhill. Be aware there is some car traffic as well as pedestrians as this is a hiking trail.
Another nearby spot is Arroyo Trail, a short hill with variable smoothness but very little traffic, a mild turn and an ample straight section downhill, great for technical freeride longboarding.
Longboarding in San Francisco when it rains
Sometimes it can rain heavily in the Bay Area during a few weeks, in which case you’ll want to look for some indoor spots to go riding. Parking lots are generally your best bet.
Braille’s headquarters in San Leandro is one option, though you’d need to check with them beforehand if and when you can drop by for some skating. You may also be able to ride in the parking lot of Target in downtown Sunnyvale – which doesn’t seem to mind skaters. In contrast, other places like Oakridge Mall will likely kick you out if you try longboarding in their parking lot.
That’s all I have, hope you’ll find this article helpful the next time you want to go longboarding in the Bay Area!