One of the best parts about living close to the bay area is the influx of outdoor activities whether it's a leisurely stroll through the presidio or grueling uphill hikes throughout the bay. Each with incredible views at the top or along the way. The bay area has it all. Hundreds if not thousands of trails with dozens of waterfalls throughout the vicinity. I compiled a short list of my favorite day hikes in the bay area. All within an hour drive from San Francisco. If it has a view, I'm there or it's on my list. Enjoy.
- Angel Island Mount Livermore - North Ridge Trail
- San Francisco, CA
- 5 mile loop trail
- Easy - Moderate
- Ocean views, City skyline views, Golden Gate Bridge view, beach nearby, 360 degree views of the bay
- Not dog Friendly.
- $20 ferry ride
Since I have lived in the bay area for the past thee years and just recently starting exploring the area a year ago, Angel Island has been my favorite hike so far. Maybe it was one of the clearest and sunniest days in the city I was able to see San Francisco, Oakland, Tiburon, Sausalito, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge at the peak. No haze no fog no obstruction of views. I must have gotten very lucky. The hike is relatively easy. I had a conversation with a 70-year-old woman as we were reaching the top of the peak. I would recommend bringing snacks so once you make it up to the top, sit down at the picnic tables and soak in the beautiful views. Nothing else compares to it!
2. Alamere Falls - Palomarin Trailhead
- Point Reyes Station, CA
- 8.4 mile out and back trail
- Easy -- Moderate
- Ocean views, waterfall, cliffs, beaches, lakes
- Sign say No dogs allowed, I call bullshit. Bring your dog. I've seen multiple dogs while doing this hike.
A waterfall that crashes onto the beach?! Give me a hell ya! I have done this hike two times. Once on a sunny November day and again February. This is a very busy trail so if you want to find a parking spot and not deal with the weekend warriors escaping the city, go during the fall. In November I saw no more than 10 more the whole time. In February, I have to park a mile away from the parking lot and encountered hundreds of people. Either way, the hike is gorgeous on a sunny day with a few lakes right off the path and when you get to Alamere falls and want to make your way to the beach, be careful. The rocks are very loose and I've seen people bust their shit going up and down the cliff. Bring snacks and a blanket to enjoy while on the beach.
3. Lake Berryessa -Homestead Blue ridge Trail
- Winters, CA
- 5.2 mile loop
- Lake views, waterfall nearby
- Sign says no dogs allowed but if your dog is agile then bring her and poop baggies. There are boulders you have to climb over.
I did this hike on New Years Day early in the morning (6-8am). I would suggest doing so as well because it does get very hot at the top of the ridge. There are two ways to enjoy this hike. Start off easy (go stay to the left) or start by going up the steep ridge first(stay right) and finish easy. The trail offers plenty of shade until you arrive at the top, its weaving in and around bushes and boulders. Bring a camera and stop and the incredible view points overlooking Lake Berryessa. Bring water, you'll need it.
4. Wilder Ranch State Park - Old Cove Landing Trail
- Santa Cruz, CA
- 7.6 mile out and back trail
- Ocean views, cliffs, beaches, coves
- Not dog friendly
- $10 State park fee
One of the great things about California is it's always fucking sunny! Hence the severe drought we are in. This hike is just north of Santa Cruz which is nice because all the tourists are at the boardwalk getting hammered or getting their tan on at the beach. This one ranks highly on my list due to the sheer beauty the hike offers literally right along the coast. The beaches you can access (legally and illegally), the beautiful pacific ocean to gaze at during the whole hike pretty much, and the stunning cliffs that dive into the ocean. I am a sucker for a view and if this place had a waterfall to add to it, then I would move in next door and enjoy this hike every goddamn day! A great way to finish this hike off is head into Santa Cruz to the boardwalk and well, pick your poison. Drinks, beach, live music, people watch, or most importantly, food. I dominated a funnel cake that had zero chance of survival which was covered with all sorts of sugar related goodies that gave my taste buds the ultimate foodgasm. Don't judge me and my inner fat kid self!
5. Stinson Beach -Matt Davis Loop Trail
- Stinson Beach, CA
- 6.5 mile loop trail
- Moderate - Hard
- Ocean views, creeks, waterfall, beaches
- Not dog friendly
If you want to get a good workout in from a hike and finish by taking a dip in the ocean, the Matt Davis loop will probably be your friend. There are a few routes to start from but I started this hike in a neighborhood that led to the trail. I didn't have to deal with finding a parking spot as well! Winning! The trail is mostly shaded that offer multiple view points that overlook Stinson Beach which would be perfect for a sunset hike as well. At the top, it opens up for some sunshine with random cows roaming around. Do not try to tip them over. Be nice kids. Depending which way you start, you may get a killer quad workout from the bazillion stairs that you have to climb. I will keep it a surprise and let you guess which way to go. Just don't blame me the next day because your legs hurt. Cap off the hike at one of the local restaurants that offer great food and a nice cold one.
6. Mission Peak - Hidden Valley Trail
- Fremont, CA
- 5.6 mile out and back trail
- Bay area views, city views
- Dog friendly on leash. Minimal Shade so bring sunscreen and plenty of water. Mostly uphill hike.
I remember seeing photos online of people climbing this mysterious pole and getting their photo taken. I HAD to find out where this was! Oh lucky me, it's a short hour drive from where I live and my buddy JD just moved here from japan. We decided to conquer this hike as it was my very first hike in the bay area. This is the hike that started it all. I got the hiking/travel bug after this hike. It was challenging but very rewarding. At the top was this funky looking pole I've been dying to see. We climbed the shit out of it, took selfies, and soaked in the incredible view of the cities surrounding the peak. Unfortunately, there's barely any trees for shade so we baked in the sun for 4+ hours. Bring that sunscreen or a hat or you may regret it. Oh and if you notice in the photo, you can paraglide as well. I was peanut butter and jelly of that guy but still got a great photo!
- Muir Woods
- Lands End
- Cataract Falls
- Lovers Lane
- Mt. Diablo
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