It’s summer and a great time to enjoy the outdoors! Whether you are looking for a scenic walk or a rigorous hike, our beautiful Bay Area backyard has it all. There are so many fabulous trail and hiking options, it can be hard to know where to start. So we consulted Team In Training Hike Coach (and 2010 Woman of the Year), Carolyn Balling, to get her thoughts on the best the Bay Area has to offer. The following is courtesy of Coach Carolyn. Happy Hiking!
When selecting a place and trail to hike, consider the time you and your companions have and the type of experience you’re after, then read up on your options, online or in a book. I look for hikes that provide a good “effort to pay-off” ratio–a little hard work is worth it for a four-bridge view or a chance to see unique natural features. On your hike, always carry a map, trail snacks and plenty of water.
You’ll find something beautiful or “view-tiful” in each of these options in the north, south, east and west corners of our Bay Area backyard.
Angel Island State Park
If you’ve never been, you’ve gotta go. The views looking back at the City, Marin and the East Bay are amazing. (Take your out-of-town visitors for a treat, too.) Catch a ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon or Oakland to reach this largest of our bay islands. Once there, amble over to the former immigration area or an army garrisons, trek to the top of Mt. Caroline Livermore for a 360° view, or circle the whole island on a paved or dirt road.
China Camp State Park, Marin County
Next time you’re near Marin Civic Center, exit and head east to visit China Camp. You’ll enjoy bay and marsh views from wooded trails like the generally flat Shoreline or hilly Bayview trails. China Camp is one of the State Parks slated for closure so get out there and support it by entering the park and paying for parking.
Cataract Falls from Rock Springs on Mt. Tamalpais
If you are headed up the road to Mt. Tam, stop at Rock Springs trailhead and take the Cataract Falls trail down to Alpine Lake reservoir, or at least as far as you want to go. You will be treated to a shady trail through moss-covered trees and several rocky waterfalls. It’s an out-and-back hike with many steps, so remember every step down will be a step back up later.
Coastal Trail in San Francisco
You can explore this urban wilderness trail from two different starting points.
1) Start at the old Sutro Baths site above the Cliff House and across from Sutro Heights. Follow the trail atop the cliffs to Eagle Point platform. You can take stairs down to Lands End beach, or enjoy ocean views from higher up before return to the start.
2) Start on the stairs behind the Warming Hut at Crissy Field near Ft. Point for a longer hike. Once at the top, continue towards and under the Golden Gate Bridge to pick up the undulating Bluffs to Batteries segment of trail. If you would like to get your heart rate up, head south and try out the Sand Ladder to Baker Beach. Should you venture further south, near the buildings at Baker Beach, you’ll find a sign letting you know it’s only 775 more miles to Mexico. (Save that for another day!)
Redwood Regional Park at Skyline Gate
If it’s hot where you are, seek shade among serene giants at this East Bay Regional Park in the Oakland Hills. Pick up a map at the Skyline Gate trailhead and head for the French Trail. You’ll enjoy plentiful ups and downs on this soft trail beneath 100+ year old, second-growth redwoods (and fewer people than at Muir Woods).
Sunol Regional Wilderness
If you’re in search of the sun, drive to the hills in the southeastern part of the East Bay Regional Park District. Always quiet, always beautiful (and sometimes quite warm) Sunol never disappoints. Take an easy saunter down Camp Oholone Road along Alameda Creek, climb up to Flag Hill, start a long hike to the back side of Fremont’s Mission Peak, or even make plans for a one-night backpack trip. It’s all possible at Sunol.
If any or all of these call to you, you may want to consider the Team In Training Hike team! You’ll be sure to visit these Bay Area favorites and more as you train for a hike adventure in Lake Tahoe or Zion National Park. Visit www.teamintraining.org/sf or call us at 800-78-TRAIN.