Parkmerced | A Runner’s Paradise

Running is pure, vibrant poetry in motion, and probably the simplest and oldest exercise in existence. No equipment is needed for the bare-bones activity, requiring nothing more or less than self-propulsion. There is a connection that all runners feel with the ground as it passes beneath them and with the scenery that flanks their favorite routes. Running is exercise via exploration, the steady rhythm of the act contrasting with the constant change in the surroundings. And for residents of the Parkmerced apartments, exploration is right around the corner. Here are some of our favorite local running routes and one classic Bay Area race:

Lake Merced Loop
The loop around Lake Merced – which is essentially Parkmerced’s backyard – is one of the more well-known running routes in the area, and for good reason. At 4.5 miles in length, the loop is the ideal distance for novice and serious runners alike. A fairly flat run, with an elevation under 100 feet, the route swings in and out, with some great views along the way, and sections bordered by trees and roads. recommends taking a shortcut along the Lake Merced Concrete bridge, which cuts the route by only 0.3 miles and provides some wonderful views of the lake and beyond.

Ocean Beach
For those interested in a longer run, Ocean Beach is only 2.5 miles from Parkmerced and has one of the best routes in the region. The path, which spans about five miles in length according to, traces the coastline and the Great Highway providing spectacular vistas for its entire stretch. Like the Lake Merced loop, the trail is paved and mostly flat, with some rolling hills here and there. And there is always the option of heading over to the beach itself for some difficult sand running if one is so inclined.

Trails at Fort Funston
Fort Funston National Park is three miles from Parkmerced and features a nice 3 mile loop which overlooks the breathtaking 200 foot dunes. According to, the loop has an elevation of 275 feet, the highest on this list, which makes it a bit more difficult. On the run, expect to pass by dogs, horses and hikers, and if you are in the mood for adventure, you can hike down to the beach – but beware, the trail is quite steep and exponentially more difficult than the loop.

Bay to Breakers Race
The Bay to Breakers annual 12K race is one of the oldest and most popular running events in the area. For over a century, now, the 12k race that is equal parts cityscape, highway and coastline has been attracting thousands upon thousands of eager participants. In 1986, according to their website, Bay to Breakers set the Guinness World Record for most participants in an organized race with 110,000 runners. The race is an institution at this point, and a rite of passage for any runner in the Bay Area.