The 5 Best Hikes To Take In The San Francisco Bay Area

Matthew Strebe

Spring is in the air, and with the freshest season of the year comes good weather, a new wardrobe, sunny optimism, and, of course, more time to spend in the great outdoors. Kick off your Oxfords and slip into a pair of boots for these 5 great hikes around the San Francisco Bay Area.

View of Deer Park from Mt. Tamalpais

Deer Park

Intensity: Strenuous

Length: 4 miles

Deer Park, 367 Bolinas Road, Fairfax, CA, USA

Gestalt Haus, 28 Bolinas Road, Fairfax, CA, USA +1 415 721 7895

Tomales Point Trail

Tomales Point Trail

Intensity: Moderate

Length: 9.4 miles

Located at the extreme northern end of Point Reyes National Seashore, the drive is almost, if not more, enjoyable than the hiking itself. Coming off White Hill, the green fields of San Geronimo Valley merge into temperate rainforests towards the coast, perennially kept moist by the humid air rising up off the sea. The small towns of Olema, Point Reyes Station, and Inverness come and go in between tempting sidetracks and mysterious abandoned houses, leading deeper into the peninsula. Finally, towards the end of Tomales Bay is the Tomales Point Trail. Delightful in springtime, when the wildflowers are in bloom, the trail follows a flat promontory for close to five miles before terminating at Tomales Point. Bird watching is superb, and the presence of the Tule Elk Reserve makes it possible to see one of these majestic beasts on the way. Make sure to bring sunscreen and a good windbreaker, as this trail is completely exposed and can get a little chilly.

Tomales Point Trail, Inverness, CA, USA

Diablo Foothills Regional Park

1. Diablo Foothills Regional Park

Park

Wildcat Canyon Regional Park
© Jacob Kearns

2. Wildcat Canyon State Park

Hiking Trail

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© Pesticide Research Institute
Intensity: Moderate

Length: 5.5 miles

Hot and exposed to the bright sun, this is a great trail to work on your tan. Park your car at the end of Park Avenue, enter the park and follow Wildcat Creek Trail until you reach Mezue Trail, then take a left. This is one of the better parts of the hike, ascending through grassy trails checkered with pockets of wild mustard and groves of oak trees. At the top of the ridge, take some time to enjoy the views of San Pablo Reservoir before taking a left on the San Pablo Ridge Trail. On a good day there may be good views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge peeking into view on the horizon. At the next juncture take a left on the Belgum Trail, which leads downwards back to the trailhead.

Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve

Intensity: Mild

Length: Just Explore!

Transformed into a dense pine, cypress, and eucalyptus forest by its first owner, Adolph Sutro, this hidden gem was later acquired by the University of California San Francisco. Restored in the early 2000s by the self-styled Sutro Stewards, this 61-acre preserve in the heart of San Francisco is now a welcome distraction from the bustle of the city. It is certainly small enough for a quick day trip, so instead of following just one trail, take a few hours to explore the whole thing. From Medical Center Way, the Historic Trail loops up to Mount Sutro Summit, a good place to make a picnic. Descending down the East Ridge trail from the summit, pass through breezy forests and occasional exposed patches to Johnstone Drive. From here, the North Ridge and Fairy Gates Trails offer further opportunities for exploration.

Mt. Sutro Open Space Reserve, San Francisco, CA, USA

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