Although running up and down San Francisco's hills may be hard on the knees, the views it affords are easy on the eyes. Another plus: Cool, consistent weather makes for good running conditions year-round. Regular joggers may have all their favorite routes mapped out, but for those looking to get started or just to switch things up, here are a few favorites. Because the best place to start a run is from your front door, it's hard to prescribe a route that works for everyone. Instead, here are 10 great running hubs. Plot a route toward one and explore from there.

Buena Vista Park/Corona Heights
A quick and easy way to add some elevation to a run near the Haight or the Castro is to head uphill to Corona Heights Park and/or Buena Vista Park. Buena Vista is actually the oldest park in the city, and it has primarily one main loop of a path through it, accessibly from pretty much all sides — see some example runs from the Haight here and here. For a trail-running experience with views unblocked by trees, Corona Heights Park offers a 0.9-mile loop that's moderately busy, and includes 121 feet in elevation change. An added bonus: There are plenty of pretty wildflowers in the spring. Jay Barmann


Crissy Field
With expansive views of the Bay, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field is a wonderful place to spend the day. Whether lounging, tossing a frisbee, or hell, flying a kite, the giant park has plenty of space for activities.What was once the site of a military airfield, the long and narrow park is also the perfect place for a run — made even more so by the fact that, unlike many spots in San Francisco, it's actually flat. For an added bonus, if the fog has you feeling chilly, there's a warming hut located at the west end that sells hot coffee and gets you out of the cold. If you feel like going a farther distance, run through to Marina Green and Fort Mason. — Jack Morse

The Embarcadero. Photo: kapshure

The Embarcadero
You will have to play Frogger with a fair number of slow-walking and selfie-taking tourists, but the Embarcadero offers perhaps the easiest, most accessible, and most picturesque uninterrupted sidewalk running route in the city. Start up by Pier 39 or all the way down at AT&T Park and you've got a 2.5-mile track that's at its least busy in the early morning hours, like pre-7 a.m. Run the full length and back, that's five miles, and your work is complete unless you're some crazy marathoner-type. And if you start down by the ballpark and end near there, you can also do a quick cool-down hop back to the Ferry Building for coffee and a breakfast reward. — Jay Barmann

Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle
But you knew this. Save for the stoplight at Masonic Ave, the Panhandle provides an uninterrupted runway into the glories of Golden Gate Park. Runners, please take note that the path closer to Fell Street is for bikes, while the Oak Street, bike-free side is all yours. The park itself is jogging heaven, and you'll be in good company. I like to shoot for a landmark like the Polo Field or the Music Concourse that I can do a lap around, and my absolute favorite for this is Stow Lake. If you try that, be sure to cross onto the island in the middle, Strawberry Hill — that way you can run by a waterfall and a pagoda, or even up to the top. —Caleb Pershan

Woody (nose, left) and Gnocchi ponder the vastness of a car-free Great Highway. Photo: Eve Batey/SFist

Great Highway
Yes, like everyone else in San Francisco I love to run on the raised trail that runs from Fulton to Sloat between La Playa and Great Highway. But the biggest Great Highway run bang for your buck, in my opinion, is to follow San Francisco's Department of Public Works on Twitter and to head west as soon as they announce that they've had to close Great Highway's roadway due to drifting sand. As the sand is never at Ghost Protocol levels, you are free to run in the middle of the road like some sort of post-apocalyptic fitness freak, the last man or woman left on the edge of this continent. Not a reality any of us want to live in, but a fun fantasy in which to occupy yourself as you get in your miles. — Eve Batey


Lake Merced
The 4.4 mile loop around Lake Merced gets high marks from runners for its fairly consistent elevation and its wide, paved trail. While parts of the loop might be a little closer to the traffic than you might like, the area is breezy enough that exhaust isn't too much of a problem, and the west side's cooler temperatures keep you from overheating on all but the hottest days. Pro tip: if you realize you need the, ahem, facilities on your run, you can duck into Harding Park Golf Course and use theirs, quite a step up from the squalor of the race day porta-potty. — Eve Batey

McLaren Park
San Francisco's second largest park after Golden Gate Park, McLarenis the "neglected stepchild" of San Francisco's green spaces, or so the Chronicle once quipped. Pay it some well-deserved attention with a jog: Aim for the big blue water tower, tool around McNab Lake, or duck through trails to the wooded Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. For those who prefer a slower pace and the occasional break, consider the Philosopher's Way, a 3-mile loop created but the artists Peter Richards and Susan Schwartzenberg with musing stations for contemplation. —Caleb Pershan

Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve
The magic of Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, situated between Twin Peaks and the UCSF Parnassus Campus, might best be summed up by the fact that one Mount Sutro trail is called the Fairy Gates. There are several entrances to the area, which is beloved by birders, hikers, and runners alike. Since it's easy to lose your way among the tight trees and, usually, the fog, use nearby Sutro Tower as a landmark. In fact, you should definitely run past it for a up close-view. —Caleb Pershan

The Presidio
Since its days as a military base, the Presidio has been a great place to train. There's no shortage of running routes with 24-miles of trails, but favorites include the Mountain Lake Trail, the path up Lincoln Boulevard to Golden Gate Overlook, or the Bay Trail at Battery East. That one runs under the Golden Gate Bridge just to its east, and its new and nicely paved for cyclists and pedestrians. Serious trail runners who don't mind steep stairs if they come with great views, will enjoy the Battery to Bluffs trail, and if it's jut a few laps your looking for, run around the main Post, perhaps starting from the Lombard Gate or back at Inspiration Point. —Caleb Pershan

Photo taken from the popular Twin Peaks lookout: Marco Hamersma

Twin Peaks
The breathtaking views afforded to those who make it to the top of Twin Peaks is nothing new. What is, however, is that an entire section of the surrounding roadway has been closed off to vehicle traffic as part of an SFMTA pilot program. That means that anyone wishing to jog back and forth across a wide-open roadway without fear of getting squashed by a tour bus can now head up to the famous tourist destination. What's more, your proximity to Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve means that you're just a quick jog away from some lush forest. And hey, if you don't have the energy or desire to run up Twin Peaks? Feel free to take a bus — we won't judge. — Jack Morse

Shawna Scott via Flickr