Bay Area Hikes

by piero scaruffi
Back to California hikes | Back to Travel | Pictures of these hikes
If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in joining some of these epic (but very casual) hikes, contact me.





  • Land's End (San Francisco, 5kms, easy): The trail starts behind the Legion of Honor and coasts the ocean towards Sutro Baths.



(Click to enlarge)

My favorite Bay Area parks

My favorite Bay Area hikes

(Note: the season makes a difference - summer and fall are usually the worst times)
  1. Pacific Coast trail from Palomarin to Limantour via Alamere Falls and Bass Lake, Pt Reyes (Bolinas, 30kms, strenuous) - lakes, waterfalls on the beach
  2. Portola Redwood Park To Waddell Beach (Big Basin, 38 kms, moderate)
  3. Loop from Sam McDonald Park to Portola Redwoods Park
  4. Northern beaches to Abbott's Lagoon, Pt Reyes (Olema, 5kms, easy) - lagoon, sand dunes, beach
  5. Del Valle Park to Sunol Park via Rose Peak and Murietta Falls (Livermore, 29kms, moderate)
  6. Stinson Beach to Mt Tam to Muir Woods (Mill Valley, ?kms, moderate) - great views, sequoias, beach
  7. Three Lakes (Fairfax, 9kms, moderate) - pretty lakes
  8. China Camp to Big Sur Station (Ventana Wilderness, 38 km) - moderate
  9. Junipero Serra Peak (Los Padres, 30 km) - moderate
  10. Pfeiffer Park to Bottcher's Gap (Ventana Wilderness) - moderate
  11. McNee Ranch to Sweeney Ridge (Montara, 27kms, easy)
  12. Mt Diablo (Blackhawk, 15kms, moderate)
  13. See the best hikes in California
("strenuous" by the standards of the Bay Area: nothing in the Bay Area is really strenuous)

My favorite hikes in California

My favorite views in California

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Mission Peak to Levin Park

See the following one for the trailhead of Mission Peak in Stanford Ave.

This hike is about 16kms by the Bay Area Ridge trail via Monument Peak and Mt Allison. From Levin Park one can take either Agua Caliente trail or Monument Peak trail. Eventually they join on a hill marked by a very high tv tower. It takes about two hours to reach this tower. Follow the sign for Bay Area Ridge Trail (you may have to jump a gate that seems to be always locked). The trail goes to the right of Mt Allison and (after another gate) leads up Mission Peak. It takes about 3 hours to the top of Mission Peak. The rest of the way is steep downhill towards the Stanford Ave parking lot in Fremont.

Ed Levin park trailhead: take 237 east and continue on Calaveras Rd when 237 ends (past 680). Turn left on Downing Rd into the park. Drive as far as you can into the park. That is the Tularcitos trailhead.

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Mission Peak to Sunol

The trail begins in Fremont and ends in Sunol. It is 4kms from Fremont to Mission Peak and about 6.5kms to the border of Sunol Park and about 1 km to the Sunol Park parking lot. Most of it actually lies inside the Ohlone Wilderness and you need a permit to hike that part. (In january 2001 it took us four hours from the Stanford Ave parking lot in Fremont to the Sunol Park parking lot).
Directions to the Mission Peak trailhead: from Interstate 680 or 880 exit Mission Blvd East, drive east (which is actually north) for a few blocks, then turn right into Stanford Ave and continue to the dead-end.
From the Stanford Avenue trailhead, hike to Mission Peak. This is a very popular hike and you are likely to be surrounded by hundreds of people. The "trail" is really a wide dirt road. There are only two major forks. The first one comes after post 26 and a gate: go right. The second one comes a few minutes later (the post is simply marked with a 5): go right if you want to check out Mission Peak (the view is not really worth it but for the sake of completeness...), go left to continue to Sunol.
From that point simply continue west through the Ohlone Wilderness to Sunol Park.

Directions to Sunol Park: take the Calaveras Rd exit off I-680, go east on Calaveras Rd, turn sort of left into Geary Road, pay at the ranger station (get a map!), then park.
If you are coming from San Francisco, the easiest route is probably 580 to 680 south.
After parking, look for the Ohlone Wilderness trail: that is the trail that connects with the one coming from Mission Peak.

  • East Bay parks
  • Mission Peak
  • Mission Peak
  • Ohlone Wilderness
  • Del Valle Park
  • Sunol Wilderness

    Long-distance hikers start from the Entrance on this side Short-distance hikers start from the Entrance on this side

    (A regional trail also leads from Mission Peak 3 km south to Monument Peak, then on into Ed Levin County Park in Santa Clara county).

    Del Valle Park to Sunol Park via Rose Peak and Murietta Falls (Livermore, 29kms, moderate)

    Rodeo Beach or Tennessee Cove to Muir Beach (Marin County)

    It's the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Map. Park one car in Muir Beach: take exit 1 off 101 and drive west to Muir Beach. Start hiking in Rodeo Beach: take the first exit north of the Golden Gate Bridge (it has different names, depending whether you are coming from north or south) and go west up the hill, pass Hawk Hill, go down the very narrow road, follow signs for beach.
    From Rodeo Beach to Muir Beach the distance is about 11 kms. The detour to Tennessee Beach is about 2 kms each way and definitely worth it (there are shortcuts, but not recommended).
    The total distance is therefore 15 kms.
    The views are stunning. Unfortunately, the trail is quite crowded and horses are allowed. Shortcuts are recommended if you want to avoid crowds and horses (particularly the Pirate Cove trail, north of Tennessee Cove).
    One can also hike from the parking lot at the end of Tennessee Valley Rd (off highway 1) to Tennessee Cove and from there continue to Muir Beach returning via the inland trails: If you have someone to pick you up at Rodeo Beach: Or a bit longer:

    Pictures of the hike
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    Mt Diablo

    Mt Diablo (1178m) is located in the East Bay, northeast of Berkeley.

    Directions to the trailhead: Take the Ygnacio Valley Rd exit of 680 (first or second exit north of the junction with 24). Go east on Ygnacio Valley Rd for about 10 minutes. Turn right into Clayton. After about five minutes, turn right into Mitchell Canyon Rd. Drive to the end. Pay for parking ($3 in 2006). The trailhead is at the opposite (eastern) side of the parking lot (so park as far east as you can, the opposite side from where you enter the parking lot). There is a ranger station that has maps ($1 in 2006). They are better than nothing, but they miss some trails.

    Walk east and turn right into the Bruce Lee trail. Follow the Bruce Lee trail through the grass fields. Turn right into the Eagle Peak trail. This trail winds its way up to Eagle Peak. It takes about two hours to Eagle Peak. Then the trail winds down to the Meridian Ridge Road (Murchio Gap). You can either take a left on this road and follow this road or go straight across it and continue on a narrow trail towards Prospector's Gap. Both the road and the trail are on the shady side of Mt Diablo and meet at Prospector's Gap with the North Peak road. From Eagle Peak to Murchio Gap takes about 15' and from Murchio Gap to Prospector's Gap takes another 45'. You are 45' away from the summit. Turn right into the North Peak trail (the name is confusing because it does not go to the North Peak but to the real summit). After a few switchbacks, this trail emerges on the other side of Mt Diablo (the sunny side). At this point you have a much better view of the summit tower. You can either follow the trail that goes towards the paved road, the lower parking lot and eventually the summit plaza, or simply start walking straight towards the summit tower (there are use trails but not easy to follow). From the bottom to the summit takes about 3h 45'.

    Returning straight to the Mitchell Canyon parking lot is best done by returning to Prospector's Gap and to Murchio Gap, the junction of Meridian road with the Eagle Peak trail. Just before that junction there is the junction with Back Creek trail, a steep trail that goes straight down to the grass fields. Once down, take a left on the Bruce Lee trail to get back to your car. Downhill along this route takes about 2h 30'.

    The grand total is 6h 15' of actual hiking.

    Bruce Lee to Back Canyon trail: 1.3km
    to Eagle Peak: 3km
    to Murchio Gap: 1.3km
    to Prospector's Gap: 2.2km
    to Summit: 1.5km
    Total to the summit: 9.3km

    Summit to Murchio Gap: 3.5km
    Meridian & Back Creek to Bruce Lee: 3km
    Bruce Lee to parking lot: 1.3km
    Total from the summit to the bottom: 7.8km
    Grand total: 17.1km (6h15')

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    El Sereno

    Most people hike El Sereno from Montevina Road, but a slightly tougher hike can be done starting from Sheldon Road. Unfortunately there is no parking at the Sheldon trailhead. Just follow the dirt road straight ignoring all the turns and you'll reach the trailhead on the other side coasting a ridge that offers views on Silicon Valley, Lexington Reservoir, etc.
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    Skyline to Purisima

    Directions for the trailheads: Take 92 west towards Half Moon Bay, turn south into 35, drive about 6kms. The trailhead parking lot for the North Ridge trail is confusingly located next to a restaurant on your right hand side. This trail soon connects with the Whittemore trail that dead ends at Higgins Purisima in Half Moon Bay.

    Skyline Ridge

    Directions for Skyline Ridge Trail: Take 84 west, turn south onto 35, drive about 6kms to the intersection with Page Mill Rd. Turn right and park. You can leave another car at the parking lot on the left-hand side just before the unpaved Charcoal Rd (2kms before the junction with highway 9).
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    Redwood Regional Park and Chabot Park

    Maps: and

    Start from the Trudeau Center on Skyline Blvd & Crestmont Dr. Public transportation: From there take the Golden Spike Trail Of Redwood Park to the Mac Donald Trail and Brandon Trail of Anthony Chabot Park, loop around the lake, picnic by the lake, and go back.