Hiking in the Bay Area, California

In addition to being the home of Silicon Valley's technology industry and large cities like San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, the San Francisco Bay Area offers excellent hiking trails for many different skill levels. The best Bay Area hikes range from short family-friendly hikes such as the Stanford Dish Trail and the Redwood Trail in Big Basin State Park to more challenging hikes like Berry Creek Falls, Mission Peak and Cataract Trail. The Bay Area also offers some great backpacking options, such as the classic 3-day Skyline to the Sea Trail and the 2-day Ohlone Wilderness Trail. Whether you are a local, or visiting the area during your vacation, make sure you discover the wide variety of trails that the Bay Area has to offer.
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Guides
Batteries to Bluffs Trail
Batteries to Bluffs Trail
San Francisco, California, United States
 
Moderate: 0.7 miles, 1 hour or less
A short hike along the batteries and bluffs in the Presidio of San Francisco

This short trail provides a great way to see the bluffs near the Presidio and offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin that are hard to beat. The trail is marked moderate because there are several places with steps and some climbing if you decide to take the side trip down to Marshall Beach. The trail is pretty short, which allows for you...
Marin Headlands
Marin Headlands
Mill Valley, California, United States
 
Headlands host beauty and history of San Francisco Bay Area

The Marin Headlands are intoxicating and sobering. The hills north of San Francisco are peppered with relics of America's wars, so in the same afternoon you might see wonderful examples of waves crashing amid grim reminders of nations clashing. The Headlands are a section of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, managed by the U.S. Park Service....
Mount Diablo's Grand Loop
Mount Diablo's Grand Loop
Mount Diablo State Park, California, United States
 
Moderate: 6.2 miles, Half day
A 40-minute audio guide to a panoramic trail encircling one of the Bay Area's highest peaks.

The Grand Loop offers a bird's-eye view of the Bay Area, and sometimes glimpses far beyond, of the Farallon Islands, Mount Lassen, the Sierra Nevada, and the Santa Cruz Mountains. It's also a a hotspot for wildflowers in the spring. At each of 12 stops in this audio guide, naturalists point out the sights and sounds, tell tales of the mountain's...
Muir Woods and Tourist Club Loop
Muir Woods and Tourist Club Loop
Mill Valley, California, United States
 
Moderate: 4.5 miles, Half day
Backdoor entry to Muir Woods on an uncrowded trail where you can enjoy scenery (and a bar!) most visitors never see.

The ancient California redwood trees of Muir Woods National Monument are one of several remaining groves up and down the coast that escaped the lumberjacks thanks to forward thinking preservationists. Located just North of San Francisco this is the ideal place for visitors from around the world to come and marvel at the giant redwoods (which in...
Steep Ravine via Matt Davis, Mt Tamalpais
Steep Ravine via Matt Davis, Mt Tamalpais
Stinson Beach, California, United States
 
Moderate: 6.5 miles, Half day
Get an early start to enjoy one of Mt Tamalpais' most loved and most distinctive trails.

Steep Ravine is a real jewel in Marin County's crown. Cutting deep into the landscape over millennia the water rushing through Webb Creek has created a spectacularly steep sided and lush canyon shaded by towering redwood trees and populated with a wide variety of local flora and fauna. This trail really draws the crowds, so we heartily recommend...
Stinson Beach to Mt. Tamalpais
Stinson Beach to Mt. Tamalpais
Stinson Beach, California, United States
 
Difficult: 17.3 miles, Full day
A great day (or overnight) hike from the beach to the top of Mount Tamalpais where you can see the entire bay area.

Mount Tamalpais (or Mt. Tam as the locals call it) is a must-do hike for anyone living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although you can drive to the top, the hike is much more rewarding, and you see many hidden treasures that those driving would likely miss. The best way to hike Mt Tamalpais is by starting at sea-level at Stinson Beach, hiking...
Cataract Trail Loop in Marin County
Cataract Trail Loop in Marin County
Bolinas, California, United States
 
Moderate: 7.7 miles, Half day
See Marin County's most scenic waterfalls. 7-mile moderate hike

Cataract Creek Trail offers a perfect excuse to play hooky from work or spend a vacation day in the woods. The creek's waterfalls provide a spectacular anchor for a 7-mile loop through the scenic lands of the Mount Tamalpais Watershed. You could just hike a mile and a quarter to the top of the Cataract Creek Trail and return, but I figure if you're...
Skyline to the Sea Trail
Skyline to the Sea Trail
Los Gatos, California, United States
 
Difficult: 29 miles, Multiple days
3-day hike showcases best of the Santa Cruz Mountains

Campers flock to the forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco; most are content to pitch a tent plucked from the trunk of their car, but hardy hikers prefer roughing it with all they need strapped on their backs. Two of the Bay Area's most popular hiking locales -- Castle Rock and Big Basin Redwoods state parks -- promise one of...
Berry Creek Falls Loop at Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Berry Creek Falls Loop at Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California, United States
 
Difficult: 10.2 miles, Full day
Long hike through old-growth redwoods to shimmering waterfalls is a Bay Area favorite.

Redwoods and waterfalls make this the best hike in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you're up for 11 miles and a thousand feet of elevation gain spread out over a half-day, you'll be amazed to see the strain melt away in this land of the giants. Veteran Berry Creek Falls hikers recommend a counter-clockwise loop starting on the Sunset Trail,...
French Trail Loop - Redwood Regional Park
French Trail Loop - Redwood Regional Park
Redwood Regional Park, California, United States
 
An East Bay Beauty - creeks, ravines, and lots of redwoods. 7.9 miles near Oakland, California

The French Trail Loop is about 7.9 miles long and located near Oakland, California. The trail is great for hiking and normally takes a half day. We parked at the Canyon Meadow Staging Area off of Redwood Rd near the intersection of Pinehurst Rd. Start off on the paved road running past the bathrooms (visible from the lot) and continue on the pavement...
Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve Exploration
Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve Exploration
Oakland, California, United States
 
Moderate: 2.3 miles, 1-3 hours
As sure as the earth moves in Berkeley, there's a volcano just off Skyline Boulevard.

As sure as the earth moves in Oakland, there's a volcano just off Skyline Boulevard. Not just any volcano, mind you. This one's lying on its side with its guts exposed. You might not recognize it right away, owing to its reclining position and the grassy coat it's adopted. But among the shrubs and grasses at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, you'll...
West Ridge Trail - Redwood Regional Park
West Ridge Trail - Redwood Regional Park
Redwood Regional Park, California, United States
 
Moderate: 5.4 miles, 1-3 hours
5.4 mile trail in Redwood Regional Park with vies of San Francisco Bay and Mt. Diablo

Redwood Regional Park offers a cool micro-climate in hot weather. The creek running through the park is where specimens of rainbow trout were used to first describe the species. This hike starts by the creek and climbs up to the West Ridge, where you will have views of both San Francisco Bay and Mt. Diablo.
San Bruno Mountain, Ridge Trail and Summit Loop
San Bruno Mountain, Ridge Trail and Summit Loop
South San Francisco, California, United States
 
Moderate: 3.5 miles, Half day
Hike the popular wilderness preserve on this great San Francisco Peninsula hike.

Looming large over San Francisco and the northern peninsula, the wilderness preserve of San Bruno Mountain state and county park is home to several rare and endangered species of flora, fauna and wildlife, including the elfin butterfly. Our guide focuses on two popular hikes. The 3½ mile Summit Loop trail takes a counter-clockwise route around...
Panoramic Hill - Chaparral Peak - Strawberry Canyon Loop
Panoramic Hill - Chaparral Peak - Strawberry Canyon Loop
Berkeley, California, United States
 
Moderate: 6.7 miles, Half day
6.7 mile trail near Berkeley, California with excellent bay views

Panoramic Hill - Chaparral Peak - Strawberry Canyon Loop is about 6.7 miles long and located near Berkeley, California. The trail is great for hiking and normally takes 2.5-3 hours. A favorite weekend hike, with amazing views of San Francisco, Oakland and the Bay, seen from eucalyptus, pine and oak forests. A great workout too. Up Panoramic Hill...
Sibley Volcanic Geology Hike
Sibley Volcanic Geology Hike
Oakland, California, United States
 
Moderate: 4.3 miles, 1-3 hours
An interpretative hike highlighting the unique geology of the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

This route begins at the park entrance off Old Tunnel Road and follows the Bay Area Ridge Trail along Round Top Creek to the Sibley Staging Area. From the staging area, grab a park map and head up to the water tower to tour the park's interpretative features, labeled 1-11 on the park map. The route will take Volcanic Trail through the park's unique...
Bay Area Redwood Hikes
Bay Area Redwood Hikes
California, United States
Top redwood hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area

California's coast redwoods are the planet's tallest living things, and some of the oldest. A drive down the spine of the Santa Cruz Mountains on Highway 35 offers an inkling of their uncanny mystique, but you have to get out of the car and walk among them to get the full effect. Redwood hikes in the North Bay and East Bay will do if you're short...
Quarry Trail and Big Springs Trail
Quarry Trail and Big Springs Trail
Berkeley, California, United States
 
Moderate: 3.5 miles, 1-3 hours
A loop traversing open grassy ridges and forested pathways in Tilden Regional Park

The trail that loops from Quarry trailhead in Tilden Regional Park traverses open grassy ridges and forested pathways in the East Bay Regional Park District above Berkeley, California. These trails and TrailPhotos offer spectacular unfettered ridgetop vistas over the Bay towards San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge to the west, and over scenic...
Skyline Trail - Middle Section
Skyline Trail - Middle Section
Oakland Hills, California, United States
 
Moderate: 14.4 miles, Half day
Rolling terrain hike through a jungle-like setting

This hike is on a very nice portion of the Skyline National Trail which starts at the Tilden Park Steam Trains parking lot, going to Redwood regional park, and returning. The hike covers EBMUD lands, and goes through several East Bay regional parks, including Tilden, Sibley, Huckleberry, and Redwood Regional Parks. The terrain and scenery actually...
Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail Exploration
Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail Exploration
San Mateo, California, United States
 
Moderate: 10.0 miles, Half day
Although this trail is not open for walk-in use by the general public, volunteer trail leaders head trips 3x a week.

Local nature lovers can enjoy the rare opportunity to hike, bike, or ride their horses through pristine stands of old growth Douglas Fir, evergreen and fragrant coastal scrub while enjoying ridge-top vistas of our watershed lands, reservoirs, the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. Although this trail is not open for walk-in use by the general public,...
Presidio Bay Area Ridge Trail
Presidio Bay Area Ridge Trail
San Francisco, California, United States
 
Easy: 2.8 miles, 1-3 hours
A 2.5-mile section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail through the woods with some great viewpoints in the Presidio

The entire bay area ridge trail is about 510 miles long and circles the entire bay. This short section winds through San Francisco's Presidio District and has some great views of the bay as well as nice walks through large trees. Near the middle you can take a detour to the National Cemetery Overlook with views of the bay and the golden gate bridge. The...
Bay Area Ridge Trail:  Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail
Bay Area Ridge Trail: Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail
San Bruno, California, United States
 
Moderate: 13.2 miles, Full day
A permit only section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail

This guide covers a 13 mile section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.  It is a through hike that starts at the Sweeney Ridge Trailhead behind Skyline College and ends at Skyline Quarry near Hwy 92.  Elevation gained is about 2400' with 2800' lost.The Fifield-Cahill Ridge trail traverses coastal scrub and old growth douglas fir forests.  The majority...
Sweeney Ridge, Golden Gate NP Conservancy
Sweeney Ridge, Golden Gate NP Conservancy
Pacifica, California, United States
 
Moderate: 3.0 miles, Half day
Explore the history of the Bay Area from atop Sweeney Ridge, or just come to admire the great coastal scenery.

Twelve hundred feet above the Pacific Ocean the Sweeney Ridge trail traverses the most northerly part of the Santa Cruz coastal range above the town of Pacifica. Up here you can explore the abandoned buildings of the 1950's Nike missile base or step further back in time and visit the spot where Gaspar de Portola first discovered the San Francisco...
Mori Point and Sweeney Ridge Loop
Mori Point and Sweeney Ridge Loop
San Bruno, California, United States
 
10.8 mile trail near San Bruno, California

Mori Point and Sweeney Ridge Loop is about 10.8 miles long and located near San Bruno, California. The trail is great for hiking and normally takes 5-6 hours with breaks and photos. A nice trek along the Ridge and then down to the coast and looping back up to the Ridge.  Awesome views. Up Sweeney Ridge Tr, R on Mori Ridge Tr, carefully cross Hwy...
Angel Island's Perimeter Road
Angel Island's Perimeter Road
Tiburon, California, United States
 
Easy: 5.8 miles, 1-3 hours
Great way to see the Bay

The Perimeter Road provides access to pretty much everything else one can see and do on the island! It's got fantastic views around the bay, it's a fun walk and a pretty good bike ride. When taking a ferry, all walks start at Alaya Cove (formerly Hospital Cove). Pick up a map while there. The Cove also houses segway and bike rentals, a small store...
Las Trampas Rocky Ridge Loop
Las Trampas Rocky Ridge Loop
San Ramon, California, United States
 
Moderate: 4.5 miles, Half day
Take a stroll around the tall rolling grassy hills East of San Francisco in the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness.

Wildflower lovers will love the springtime scenery of Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, but when the blooms have faded this East Bay park still has plenty to marvel at. Eagle-eyed hikers in autumn and winter will spot birds of prey amongst the gliding turkey vultures, and there's also the chance of a golden eagle sighting. Elevation gain: • 1,100ft...
Presidio Ecology Trail
Presidio Ecology Trail
San Francisco, California, United States
 
Easy: 1.7 miles, 1 hour or less
A short hike through the woods with a small detour to Inspiration Point with views of the Bay and Alcatraz

The United States Army created this trail in 1980 so that San Francisco residents could walk through the woods near their homes. Parts of this trail are through open grass areas while other ares are through more densely wooded areas, and there are a few short detours to picnic areas and Inspiration Point with views of the Presidio, the bay (including...
Find Nature at Lands End
Find Nature at Lands End
San Francisco, California, United States
 
Easy: 3.4 miles, 1-3 hours
The wildest, rockiest corner of San Francisco is a land of rich history and spectacular nature

Lands End is the wildest, rockiest corner of San Francisco, a corner strewn with shipwrecks and a history of landslides. At the tip of Lands End is Point Lobos, named by the Spanish for its many lobos marinos (sea wolves); the barks of those sea lions, as they are called today, drifted up from the rocks below. The sea lions have since relocated to the...
California Coastal Trail - San Francisco
California Coastal Trail - San Francisco
San Francisco, California, United States
 
Easy: 8.9 miles, Half day
Hike along the Coastal Trail from the Cliff House at Lands End to the Golden Gate Bridge

This section of the California Coastal Trail runs from the Cliff House near the Sutro Baths all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge and passes many landmarks including Baker Beach, the Seacliff area, Marshall Beach, and the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. This area of San Francisco is unknown to so many residents, even though it is one of the most beautiful...
Mori Point. Golden Gate NP Conservancy
Mori Point. Golden Gate NP Conservancy
Pacifica, California, United States
 
Easy: 2.0 miles, 1-3 hours
Short coastal bluff hike with outstanding views and wildflowers.

Just a short distance down the coast from the city of San Francisco, Pacifica is where the concrete truly ends and gives way to green hills and dramatic coastal scenery. Mori Point is a great place enjoy a sunset, do a spot of whale watching or simply enjoy the waves of the Pacific Coast washing up onto the shores. Remember to check out the ridgeline...
Angel Island State Park
Angel Island State Park
Tiburon, California, United States
 
Easy: 5.5 miles, 1-3 hours
See gorgeous Bay vistas and visit the Immigration Station.

Angel Island State Park offers one of the best ways to see San Francisco Bay from sea level. Fortunate local boat owners have long plied its shoreline and picnicked on its grounds, but the boatless can get in on the fun via ferries that stop on the island. There are good times galore for hikers, bikers and sightseers, but the island has abundant...
High Ridge Loop at Garin-Dry Creek Park
High Ridge Loop at Garin-Dry Creek Park
Garin-Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park, California, United States
 
Difficult: 10.8 miles, Half day
Get a good workout and explore the history of the hills east of Hayward at Garin-Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park.

Ancient traditions and recent tragedies form the backdrop for this 10-mile hike at Garin-Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park in the hills east of Hayward, California. The tradition: mortar holes the Ohlone peoples used to grind acorns into flour near Gossip Rock, a loop/spur from the park's High Ridge Loop Trail. The tragedy: a 1951 airliner crash...
Crissy Field Exploration
Crissy Field Exploration
San Francisco, California, United States
 
Easy: 1.3 miles, 1-3 hours
Crissy Field's 100 acres of wild, windswept shoreline are a favorite place for recreation and enjoying wildlife.

Crissy Field is a stunning park site within the Golden Gate National Parks. Crissy Field's 100 acres of wild, windswept shoreline are a favorite place for walkers, joggers, boardsailors, bicyclists, thousands of birds and the occasional seal. Originally a rich salt marsh and gathering ground for native people, Crissy Field was later the landing site...
Briones Regional Park Exploration
Briones Regional Park Exploration
Martinez, California, United States
 
Moderate: 2.2 miles, 1-3 hours
Just a 10-minute drive from Berkeley, Briones Regional Park is a 6,117 acre park in Contra Costa County.

Just a 10-minute drive from Berkeley, Briones Regional Park is a 6,117 acre park in Contra Costa County. Its home to plentiful East Bay wildlife, including birds, snakes and newts. In some areas, it's still used as grazing land by local herds, part of a cattle ranching history that's more than 100 years old. The park's ridge tops offer stunning views...
Las Trampas Devil's Hole Loop
Las Trampas Devil's Hole Loop
San Ramon, California, United States
 
Moderate: 6.6 miles, Half day
Fun 6.6 hike into a remote area of Las Trampas. Great views East towards Mt Diablo and West towards the Oakland Hills.

Hike begins at the very end of Bollinger Canyon Rd at the Las Trampas Staging Area where there is plenty of free parking. Take Rocky Ridge View Trail (paved road) up the hill for .8 miles. The trail turns left onto a single track that runs diagonally up to Rocky Ridge. At the top, follow the Ridge Trail South for .83 miles and enjoy the magnificent...
Tolman Peak Hike
Tolman Peak Hike
Union City, California, United States
 
Easy: 5.0 miles, 1-3 hours
The best hike in Dry Creek Pioneer Park provides great scenic views on the east bay and solitude you're looking for.

Tolman Peak (997 ft. elevation) is located at the southeast side of Garin / Dry Creek Pioneer Park, which is part of East Bay Regional Park System. This site was also famous for a plane (MD DC-6B) crash in 1951. This 5 miles round-trip hike takes you from the park's Tamarack entrance to the peak and back. It starts with easy uphill hike , several creek...
Angel Island Science Hike
Angel Island Science Hike
Tiburon, California, United States
 
Moderate: 3.3 miles, Half day
In the middle of San Francisco Bay sits Angel Island State Park, with spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline.

In the middle of San Francisco Bay sits Angel Island State Park, offering spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, the Marin Headlands and Mount Tamalpais. The island is also alive with history. Three thousand years ago the island was a fishing and hunting site for Coastal Miwok Indians. It was later a haven for Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de...
Pulgas Water Temple Area Exploration
Pulgas Water Temple Area Exploration
Woodside, California, United States
 
Easy: 2.1 miles, Half day
"I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people,"

The Pulgas Water Temple was built at the terminus of the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct as a monument to the new water system. It’s located within the watershed, just south of Crystal Springs reservoir. An inscription at the top reads, "I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people," a biblical quote from Isaiah. The...
Backpacking at Angel Island
Backpacking at Angel Island
Tiburon, California, United States
 
Moderate: 6.0 miles, Multiple days
Camping in the middle of San Francisco Bay offers a window on the region's wonders after dark.

Angel Island can charm the socks off a day-hiker, but it's even better by night, when the state park closes up shop and sends the tourists home. After that, campers lucky enough to reserve one of the island's 11 sites have the place to themselves. Urban attractions ringing San Francisco Bay light up as the night darkens, creating shimmering opportunities...
Mission Peak via Bay Area Ridge Trail and Ed Levin Park
Mission Peak via Bay Area Ridge Trail and Ed Levin Park
Bay Area Ridge Trail, California, United States
 
Difficult: 13.5 miles, Full day
Extra-strenuous hike goes to Monument Peak, Mission Peak and back over 14 miles in an excellent spring outing.

Hiking to Monument Peak from Ed Levin County Park, huffing it over to Mission Peak and returning is a true test of mettle for San Francisco Bay Area trekkers. If you're up for it, this is a great way to summit Mission Peak and skip the crowds--and parking hassles--at the popular Stanford Avenue entrance to Mission Peak Regional Preserve. Instead,...
Hike at Briones Regional Park -- Bear Creek Trail Head
Hike at Briones Regional Park -- Bear Creek Trail Head
Martinez, California, United States
 
Moderate: 7.6 miles, Half day
East Bay park offers ample solitude, abundant sunshine

Briones Regional Park covers more than 6,000 acres in the rolling East Bay hills between Berkeley and Walnut Creek. Hikers gravitating to Tilden Park to the west and Mount Diablo to the east often overlook Briones, so you'll have plenty of time alone on the the trails. There's a Goldilocks "just right" quality about hiking at Briones: Hills seem...