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Guide

10 Great Bay Area Hikes (And What To Eat After)

If you want some fresh air and a good meal, this guide is for you.

Written by
Updated June 24th, 2021

You don’t have to look far to see that the Bay Area is an incredible place to hike. Whether it’s mountains, beaches, or state parks, there are tons of beautiful hiking trails just a drive away. And since summer is officially upon us, you might be trying to get out of the house for some fresh air and a view that isn’t your Twitter feed - but after getting all those steps in, you’re going to need to fill back up. That’s where I come in. Read on for 10 of my favorite Bay Area hikes, plus the nearby spots you should eat at when you’re done.

THE HIKES


Julia Chen

BRIONES REGIONAL PARK

Suggested trail: Alhambra Creek Trail

At Briones Regional Park, you’ll find rolling green hills, wildflowers, and lots and lots of cows - don’t be surprised if you see one walk across your path, completely unfazed. Start at the Alhambra Creek Staging Area and take the Alhambra Creek Trail - you can loop back to your car via the Spengler Trail (about two and a half miles) or continue exploring the park. Whatever you decide, you’ll want to work up an appetite for the cheesy, gooey stuffed pie at Zachary’s, an Oakland-based pizza place that also has a location less than 15 minutes from the park in Pleasant Hill. Dig into the Zachary’s Special, with a golden buttery crust and perfect tomato sauce, while you text pictures of your new cow friends to everyone you know.

Krescent Carasso

ayelienne, Flickr

PACIFICA

Suggested trail: Devil’s Slide

Devil’s Slide in Pacifica is a paved trail that was converted from an old section of Highway 1. It runs just over a mile along the coast (lots of beautiful views of the water are a given) and has plenty of spots to sit and soak in the scenery. If you want to picnic on one of the benches along the way, drive a little further down the 1 before your stroll to pick up lunch at Gherkin’s Sandwich Shop. The Montara spot has an extensive menu of specialty sandwiches that are extra stuffed with fillings. You can get everything from ham and mortadella to eggplant parmesan, or build your own.


Julia Chen

Point Bonita

Suggested trail: Point Bonita Lighthouse

Full disclosure: the lighthouse at Point Bonita is only open for three hours on Sunday and Monday, so plan accordingly if you want to actually make it to the landmark itself. Lighthouse aside, Point Bonita is one of my favorite places for incredible views of the cliffs along the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. There are tons of old coastal batteries along the water, and trails down to Rodeo Beach, which you should definitely check out considering the walk to the lighthouse is pretty short (about a mile out-and-back). After you’ve finished exploring, head east to Sausalito’s Bar Bocce, a great spot for wood-fired pizzas, beer, and more excellent views. Seating here is first come, first serve.

Gaby Esensten

Julia Chen

Point Reyes

Suggested trail: Tomales Point Trail or Coast Trail

Point Reyes is home to beautiful coastlines and tons of wildlife. I love heading up here on a clear day, when you can really soak in the bay views. For a longer hike, take the Tomales Point Trail - it’s about nine miles, takes you to the edge of the peninsula, and has tule elk you can spot along the way. For a shorter walk, the out-and-back Coast Trail is pretty flat, and has great views and a bunch of paths down to the beach. When you’re done, head to the main stretch in Point Reyes Station for a buttery grilled cheese from Cowgirl Creamery - and be sure to grab some of their perfect Mt. Tam triple cream brie for the road.


Julia Chen

Mount Tamalpais

Suggested trail: Dipsea to Old Mine to Steep Ravine Loop

Mount Tam is my favorite place to hike in the Bay Area, period. It has it all: super green redwood forests, sweeping views of the ocean, and a giant ten-foot ladder. The hike is about five miles if you park at Whitegate Ranch and do the loop mentioned above. If you want a longer hike (eight-ish miles) and are looking to end up at the beach, park by the Stinson Beach fire station and take Matt Davis to Steep Ravine to Dipsea. Either way, I promise it’ll be one of the most gorgeous hikes you’ve ever done.

Afterwards, stretch out your calves and make your way to PizzaHacker at The Junction in Mill Valley. The pizza spot/beer garden has the same pizza menu you’ll find at their location in Bernal Heights, but the pies - topped with everything from chorizo and kalamata olives to arugula and egg - are a little bigger. They have outdoor dining on their massive back patio, where you can enjoy your pizza with a glass of beer, wine, kombucha, or hard cider.

Julia Chen

Julia Chen

Marin Headlands

Suggested trail: Julian to Rodeo Valley to SCA to Slacker Hill Loop

The trails in the Marin Headlands are all beautiful, but my favorite is this six-ish-mile loop. It takes you through the hills and up to unbeatable views of the water and the Golden Gate Bridge (and SF and the East Bay, if it’s clear out). Park at the Coastal Trail Parking and Restrooms, and start at the Julian trail - you’ll end up at Slacker Hill, a steep but worth-it climb to one of the best viewpoints in the Bay.

When you’re done, pop over the bridge into the Marina, and pick up the original khao mun gai from Rooster & Rice. The tender poached chicken over chicken fat rice is served with a great ginger-garlic-chili sauce - it’s comforting, filling, and the perfect post-hike reward to picture in your mind as you scale Slacker Hill.

Lani Conway

Julia Chen

Joaquin Miller Park

Suggested trail: Sequoia-Bayview to Big Trees Loop

If you’re looking for less of a hike and more of a stroll, head to Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland. The mostly-flat, shaded redwood forest is the perfect place to bring a dog or a friend with a strong aversion to sweating. Any trail you pick will be great, but if I’m in the mood for a nice, relaxing walk, I like the two-mile Sequoia-Bayview and Big Trees loop. Another reason to come to Joaquin Miller is that Sparky’s is right down the road. The spot for massive charbroiled burgers, onion rings, and milkshakes is an Oakland institution - don’t be surprised if you find yourself coming back to the area at least monthly for a hike and your avocado bacon burger fix.


Julia Chen

Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve

Suggested trail: Stonewall-Panoramic Trail

At the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve (right by the UC Berkeley campus), you’ll find a relatively steep up-and-back trail that offers gorgeous panoramic views of Berkeley, Oakland, and the bay. How far up the trail you want to go depends on how much you trust the traction on your shoes to get you down - but the higher you climb, the better the views get. Once you make your way back down, walk over to Rick & Ann’s, an all-day cafe that serves excellent brunch, pancakes, and tuna melts. If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, Fournée Bakery is a few doors down, and makes my favorite ham and cheese croissant in the East Bay. Or go to both - don’t let me stop you.


Julia Chen

Lands End

Lands End and Coastal Trail

If you’re looking to gaze out over the vast ocean and contemplate life, Lands End is your place. The path takes you along the coast, and has detours down to Mile Rock Beach, the Lands End labyrinth, and the Sutro Baths. After, make your way to Cielito Lindo in the Outer Richmond - the new-ish Mexican restaurant has quesabirria tacos, breakfast burritos, and an excellent carne asada torta that comes with carrots, jalapeños, mayo, and queso fresco.

Lani Conway

Julia Chen

Bernal Heights

Bernal Heights Park

Bernal Heights Park is my go-to spot to watch the sun set over San Francisco. Like Joaquin Miller, this one is less of a hike and more of a pleasant walk if you just want to get your body moving - and it’s also a great spot to bring your dog. Before you head up to the park, a power move I fully endorse is stopping by El Metate in the Mission - the only thing that could possibly make the 360 degree views of the city better is having a perfect carne asada super burrito on hand.

Julia Chen
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