GET OUTSIDE: 10 HIKES IN THE BAY AREA
Hikes in the Bay Area
We’re excited to bring you the next edition of our Shape Your Life Outside series, this one on hiking trails near our Bay Area clubs! With so many of our members on break for the holidays, visiting family, or having family visit them, we thought you’d love some great options for getting out of the house and walking off those holiday cookies! Here are some of our favorite hiking trails in our Bay Area backyard.
Mt. Diablo State Park
With an elevation of 3,849 feet at its peak, Mt. Diablo offers some of the best views in the Bay Area along with dozens of hiking trails ranging from moderate to hard in difficulty. The Donner Creek Loop Trail is one of the most popular hikes with a 5-mile loop on the Clayton side. If you’re looking for something more challenging, the Waterfalls of Mount Diablo Loop (also on the Clayton side) is a steeper, 7.9 mile loop with views of waterfalls in early spring. Rock City is another fun option, it’s a recreation area with sandstone rock formations to climb along with picnic tables and restrooms. For more information, visit parks.ca.gov.
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve
A beautiful place to take a stroll, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve has 20 trails ranging from 1.5 to 8.3 miles and up to 1,600 feet in elevation climb. These well-groomed paths are perfect for hiking, running and mountain biking and provide nature lovers with beautiful wildflowers, bird watching and local wildlife. The preserve is dog-friendly, but some trails are also open to horseback riding so be sure to keep your canine friends close in case of an equestrian encounter. For more information, visit ebparks.org.
Contra Loma Regional Park
A 780-acre park complete with a reservoir for year-round fishing and summertime swimming, Contra Loma Regional Park in Antioch has something for everyone looking to get outside. The Old Ranch Loop Trail is a good, easy walk for all fitness levels and is also dog-friendly. For those looking for more of a challenge, take the Exterior Loop towards Black Diamond Mines for an 8-mile loop with 1,466 feet in elevation change and amazing views of the reservoir below. For more information, visit ebparks.org.
Mt. Tamalpais State Park
Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais State Park hails from the heart of Marin County with deep canyons, tall redwoods and beautiful hillsides. The park offers some of the best hikes in the Bay Area including the famous Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, Steep Ravine and Matt Davis Loop. Overall, the park offers over 50 miles of trails connecting to a 200-mile larger trail system surrounding the area. Stinson Beach is a popular starting point but be sure to get there before 10am to beat the crowds. For more information, visit parks.ca.gov.
A national park, and national treasure to locals, you can’t beat the views and overall beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore. A natural sanctuary with over 1,500 species of plants and animals who call it home, Point Reyes is a nature-lovers dream. Explore the rocky headlands on the Tomales Point Trail, discover the famous Alamere Falls crashing on the beach below, or take a stroll to the Point Reyes Lighthouse overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Whatever trail you take, you surely won’t regret it as you join the millions of visitors who witness Point Reyes’ magnificence every year. For more information, visit nps.gov.
Just south of Point Reyes is another epic location for hiking, the Marin Headlands. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the most-visited National Park in the U.S., the Marin Headlands is home to many popular hikes including the Rodeo Beach Coastal Trail Loop. This moderate hike provides scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, unique rocky bluffs and epic sunsets. Black Sands Beach is a much shorter hike via the Upper Fishermans Trail (only .5 miles) but is a good option for hikers looking for an easier hike to see incredible wildflower blooms and views of the coast. Visit nps.gov for more information.
Briones Regional Park
Tucked away in the east bay between the towns of Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Concord, and Martinez, Briones Regional Park is less popular than some of its counterparts on this list, but equally beautiful. From Briones Peak, the highest point in the park, you’ll find panoramic views of Mt. Diablo, the Diablo Valley and even the Delta to the north. The park’s 6,255 acres offer ample land to explore and it’s common to see numerous wildlife including hawks, black-tailed deer, turkey vultures, and even coyotes. The most popular hike is the difficult Diablo View loop comprised of 5.4 miles and over 1,100 feet in elevation gain. For more moderate options offering equally impressive views, check out the Lafayette Ridge Trail or Briones Hills Loop Trail. For more information, visit ebparks.org.
Mount Wanda Trailhead
A moderately difficult 2.9 mile loop, the Mount Wanda Trail located near Martinez is an excellent choice for running, walking and hiking. Preserved by the John Muir Land Trust, Mount Wanda is a smaller, 325-acre plot of land where John Muir himself used to live. The John Muir Nature Trail provides views of Mt. Diablo, the Carquines Strait and nearby Briones Regional Park. The National Park Service also offers guided full moon walks, seasonal wildflower walks and bird walks depending on the season. Visit jmlt.org for more information.
Another famous destination for families, hikers and nature enthusiasts, Muir Woods National Monument is home to massive old-growth coastal redwoods, the tallest living things in the world. The area features 6 miles of trails including a 30-minute, 60-minute and 90-minute loop as well as longer hikes that extend into Mount Tamalpais State Park. Dogs are not allowed, and parking is extremely limited. Parking and shuttle reservations are now required at gomuirwoods.com, and you can pay your entrance fee there as well. Visit nps.gov for more information.
Las Trampas Regional Park
Located in the foothills above San Ramon, Danville, and Alamo, Las Trampas Regional Park is another hidden gem known by very few outside the surrounding the area. Home to over 5,000 acres of wilderness and an expansive trail system available to both hikers and horseback riders, the rugged terrain provides a nice escape from the suburb hustle with beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife and unique geology. Two major Bay Area faults—the Las Trampas and Bollinger faults—run through the park exposing well defined geological formations that are incredible to see. The Ringtail Cat loop is a popular 7.5 mile trail near Alamo with 1,900 of elevation change and beautiful views of the San Ramon Valley below. The Del Amigo Trail is another popular choice and is a bit shorter at 3.4 miles. Be sure to bring plenty of water as there is none available throughout the park. Visit ebparks.gov for more information.