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From rowing to fishing to jogging, Lake Merced offers a variety of recreation opportunities. San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SF Rec/Park) manages the recreational areas of the lake under a 1950 agreement with the SFPUC.

To learn more about recreation opportunities at the lake, visit the SF Rec/Park website.

man and woman in kayakBoating

Whether you want to take a leisurely canoe ride around the lake or watch a fast-paced sculler race, Lake Merced is one of the best places for boating in San Francisco.

San Francisco’s vibrant and diverse community is reflected in the boating community at Lake Merced. Harding Boathouse provides space for boating groups including the Dolphin Club, the Pacific Rowing Club, and St. Ignatius Club. The high school rowing clubs and California Dragon Boat Association have won numerous awards. San Francisco State University also runs a popular summer youth boating program at the lake. To learn more about each, please follow the links below:

Lake Merced boathouse

Harding Boathouse
The Harding Boathouse has recently been renovated through a collaborative effort between the SF Recreation and Parks and the SFPUC. The boathouse features a workout room for the high school rowing clubs, interior restrooms, and an office for SF Recreation and Parks Department. Lake visitors can learn about the lake, reserve the community room, and participate in many other activities. The Harding Park Boathouse reopened in July 2014 following renovation.

Commonly fished species at Lake Merced include rainbow trout, catfish, and black bass. A fish study was conducted in 2003, which found that other fish species present in the lake include common carp, roach, and sunfish. The California Department of Fish and Game periodically conducts a trout stocking program at Lake Merced.

A 4.5-mile paved trail circles the lake’s perimeter, creating recreation opportunities for jogging, hiking, dog walking, and biking. The trail is accessible from a wide range of locations around the lake.


Picnic tables are available at several locations throughout Lake Merced, including Harding Park and on both sides of the footbridge that separates South Lake and Impound Lake.
Last updated: 7/27/2018 12:50:42 PM