San Francisco is a beautiful city, but there are so many things to do and see that you’ll never be able to fit it all into one trip. Lucky for you, there are plenty of hiking trails you can do just outside the city. Here are some of the best hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Few cities can compare to San Francisco in terms of how expansive nature feels inside the city limits. Long trails hug the rocky Pacific coast at Lands End, located in the far northwest corner of San Francisco. Sunny days offer postcard-worthy views of the Golden Gate, as well as views north to the Marin hills and far out into the ocean.
A fine, moody mist that envelops groves of cypress and eucalyptus trees on more frequent foggy days is no less beautiful. Begin by descending the steps to the Sutro Baths, the ruins of an ocean-fed bathhouse from the nineteenth century, before climbing the stairs back up and winding your way north.
Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park is a redwood getaway that requires little driving, despite being only a few miles from downtown Oakland. On these 1,833 acres live a rare bird population, a grassland full of wildlife, and a forest of coastal redwoods. Anyone can travel the mile-long paved Stream Trail through Redwood Canyon, regardless of hiking experience or abilities. The more adventurous hikers can pick from a variety of other trails, which are all well-marked and well-connected to other trails.
Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore
The Point Reyes region has a long list of attractions that are worth seeing, including the iconic Point Reyes Lighthouse, the untamed Pacific Ocean crashing onto the shore, and the quaint shops and restaurants at Point Reyes Station, to name a few. It also has the Tomales Point Trail, perhaps the most breathtaking coastal hike in a state full of them.
The mostly flat, almost ten-mile round-trip hike passes through the Tule Elk Reserve, where the proud animals can be seen grazing in front of the mighty Pacific. Tomales Bay and the ocean are on either side. Even if the elk aren’t in the open, you might see coyotes, foxes, and hawks.
Mount Diablo State Park
Mount Diablo towers over the East Bay at an elevation of 3,848 feet. Although its slopes appear gentle from a distance, only experienced hikers should attempt the entire 6.8-mile ascent to the summit via the Summit Trail. The steep climb from the Mitchell Canyon Staging Area rewards you with views of the Farallon Islands, the Sierra Nevadas, and even Yosemite’s Half Dome. Although a car can get you to the summit, walking there is much more satisfying.
Despite being the most popular redwood destination in the world and not just a Bay Area secret, Muir Woods continues to be awe-inspiring. It is a mist-cloaked national monument with a long history, and is home to thousands of coastal redwoods and Sequoia sempervirens, the tallest tree species known.
You can spend an hour taking a stroll through the famous Cathedral Grove and Bohemian Grove, where towering, centuries-old trees invite you to stop and reflect. A large portion of the park is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, thanks to paved paths and wooden boardwalks. Expect crowds, so make reservations for parking in advance.
China Camp State Park
The region’s bayside hikes might not be as popular given how close the wild Pacific coastline and serene redwood groves are to one another. However, the network of trails that hugs San Pablo Bay’s intertidal marshlands has its own unique, breathtaking beauty.
Here, you’ll find vibrant wetlands, salt-kissed breezes, bobcats, coyotes, and a wide variety of birds. The 7-mile Shoreline-Bayview loop meanders alongside the water before gradually climbing up the hills, offering breathtaking views the entire way. Spend some time exploring China Camp Village, the remarkably well-preserved ruins of a shrimp fishing camp from the late 19th century.
Mori Point is the best place to go for a quick, scenic hike that won’t take up most of the day. The 32-acre wetland park in coastal Pacifica, less than 30 minutes south of San Francisco, has a flat half-mile trail and a steeper 1.5-mile loop.
The shorter path ascends to the coastal bluffs, where you might see whales migrating in the winter, hillsides covered in blossoms in the spring, and various birdlife. The longer path travels up to the Pacific Ocean. Mori Point is dog-friendly, unlike most other state and national parks, so your dog can enjoy a day out as well.
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Marin County’s landscape is dominated by Mount Tam, as it is known locally. Additionally, the state park bearing its name contains more than 200 miles of trails that extend to the Pacific and every type of topography that Northern California is famous for.
Experienced hikers on the 7.8-mile Matt Davis and Steep Ravine Trail Loop can see many of the greatest hits. Starting at the Pantoll Ranger Station, the trail winds through shady oak forests, the iconic Californian rolling hills offering ocean views, seasonal waterfalls, and venerable redwoods before descending to coastal Highway 1 near Stinson Beach’s sandy shores.
Enjoy the ocean breeze before tackling the second half of the loop, which takes you along the Dipsea Trail to the Steep Ravine. As an alternative, Stinson Beach would be a good starting point, and Pantoll would serve as a useful halfway point.
Angel Island State Park
The scenic ferry ride from Fisherman’s Wharf or the Marin town of Tiburon is half the appeal of hiking Angel Island, which is in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The island has a long and complicated history, having served as a US Army base, a quarantine facility, and an immigration station in the early 20th century.
However, the island’s natural attractions are reason enough to go there. Follow the North Ridge Trail, a 5.9-mile loop that winds its way up Mount Livermore’s 788 feet through pines, oaks, and stunning wildflowers, for the best Bay Area views.
Regardless of how warm it is inland, you should bring an extra layer for any hike along the Bay Area’s coast. Bringing some bug spray is also a good idea.
After a fun day of hiking, you’ll surely be hungry and ready for dinner. Luckily, there are plenty of great places to eat in the Bay Area. One of the most popular places to eat is the Tiburon Tavern in Tiburon. Tiburon Tavern offers a wide variety of food, including American food, salads, and appetizers. We also serve fresh, local seafood. Our happy hour is a great time to grab a drink and some food and meet some new people, including the owners, Renzo and Crystal Azzarello, who are always friendly and helpful.
Book your reservations now through our website, or call us at 415-435-5996. We look forward to seeing you at Tiburon Tavern!