Bay Area hiking

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If you look at the bottom of this page you'll see there are several great website for hiking around the bay area. On this page, I like to keep track of which ones I've done (mostly for my own purposes) and especially those I've taken images of!

Down the page you'll notice I keep a wish list of hikes I'd like to do soon and I'm always interesting in finding new hiking buddies - especially if they can handle me taking pictures along the way (I work for Google Maps and like to contribute panoramas on the side). :)

WARNING: With most National Park areas in CA, if your car remains parked past sunset (say ~6pm) it can be towed. Hasn't happened to me, but a park ranger did warn me once. As with all hiking be sure to take a bag with lots of water, sunscreen and dress appropriately! A charged mobile phone running Google Maps can help if you get lost (turn off to save battery).

For extra fun, record your experiences using the EveryTrail app or take PhotoSpheres* on an android nexus to record your experience and upload to Google maps (see how-to). You'll notice that what I've done for lots of the hikes below.

Hikes in the Bay Area I've Done

Name Starting Location Guides My Pics * Description

South Bay

Castle Rock State Park Loop

Hike castle rock.jpg

Just SW of Saratoga
37.2305,-122.0960 Castle Rock State Park Entrance The park entrance is on Skyline Bldv and easy to miss, but probably you'll see several cars parked on the road outside the entrance, and inside is a little parking area with a (typically unmanned) hut where you have to put $10 in an envelope and write your car registration number (unless you park on the road I believe).


none yet. :(

This is an amazing area! The hike is fantastic.... the one mapped on everytrail is one I recommend, but if you want something shorter then at the entrance take the loop called "Castle Rock Trail"... only this loop actually lets you see castle rock along with lots of little kids crawling over it. In my mind the Saratoga Gap Trail is far more rewarding with a waterful and "Goat Rock" on the way back. Both rocks are a popular destination for rock climbers. The forest is beautiful, and if you go during winter you'll want a good jacket, jeans and even gloves. Even in summer you'll probaly want jeans, but you will be exposed to the sun for part of the trail, so take water and a backpack to store layers as needed. The views are pretty great too, so take pictures! :)
Duration: ~2-3 hrs.

Alpine Pond

Hilke alpine pond.jpg

Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve
37.3154,-122.1885 Use the carpark just after you turn from Skyline Blvd onto Alpine Road.


pano1-mine map pano2-mine - view pano3-mine horseshoe lake

Really like the feel of this walk! It's a lovely trail where you start at the carpark, walk under the road and immediately come across Alpine pond. From here I suggest walking around the Ipewa Trail first and you'll walk through a fairly open area where you see a wonderful view over pine forest. Eventually you'll come across horseshoe pond and from there you can come back a different way.
Duration: ~2 hrs.

Villa Montalvo Trails

Hike villa montalvo.jpg

37.2442,-122.0293 Punching "Piedmont Rd, Saratoga" into your car GPS and you'll drive past the big mail "Villa Montalvo Arboretum County Park" building (with a beautiful lawn out front) then use parking lot #2 or #4 (both fairly close).


pano3 - arts amphitheater

This is a really great trail which , driving past the big main From there follow the directions, starting with the lookout trail where you are taken up to a beautiful view over Saratoga and San Jose.

It's fairly hard to get lost, and all the paths are wonderful, and won't take more than a couple of hours pleasant walk though cool pine forest. On the way back to the carpark you can stop and explore the main Villa Montalvo building, see the amphitheater out the back, small art studio and lovely little cactus garden out front.
Duration: ~2-3 hrs.

Priest Rock Trail

Hike priest rock.jpg

Los Gatos
37.1965,-121.9840 17947 Alma Bridge Road Some people park by the road, but you best bet is parking at the "Los Gatos Rowing Club" 10000 Alma Bridge Rd (read the sign first) and the entrance is just a few meters north up the road.

gurmeet everytrail


Was an okay hike with a nice view of the Lexington Reservoir. It's mostly open (so sunscreen is a needed) and shrubland as you get higher. Be warned it's very steep uphill, so you will sweat along and needs lots of water. Not a bad hike, but certainly not as spectacular as the (relatively close) Castle Rock walks. Good for hardcore cyclist though.
Duration: ~5 hrs.

Skyline to the Sea Trail

Hike skyline to sea.jpg

Los Gatos
"Big Basin State Park Parking Lot" 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek. This can be a 2 day hike, but what my friend and I did was start at the big basin state park parking lot (point #3 on everytrail)... and had my car waiting for us down at "Waddell Beach parking lot Rancho Del Oso Visitor Center, 3600 California 1".

everytrail kml (restricted)


From where we started was a 13 mile, mostly downhill hike - and was really beautiful! Were certainly lots of people at the carpark, but it thinned out. The waterfall was really quite pretty, you could scale down through a tree to get to the water, and were a few people there. The waterfall (point #4) was about our half-way mark, and for most of the trail down you follow this same beautiful creek and cross it periodically. I saw 2 gardersnakes, which was really exciting for me (pretty common/lame by snake standards, but I really haven't seen many in the US, so anything counts). Feet were pretty sore by the end - but to my hiking buddy Chris this was just a short walk... Chris once walked 5 months all the way from his home country, Canada, down the west coast to Mexico. Wow!
Duration: ~6 hrs.

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve - Spring Ridge-Hamms Gulch Loop

Hike windy hill.jpg

Hill Open Space Preserve
37.3615,-122.2465 ~18412 Skyline Boulevard Drive along Skyline Boulevard and you'll see a couple of little car parks. We chose the second, where most of the trails like lost trail took see carpark.

bahiker - spring ridge-hamms gulch loop bahiker - lost trail

Coming soon.

Lost trail was pretty, but I went with my friend Graham who has a beautiful husky and we could only go so far along lost trail before no dogs were allowed, so instead we walked down a really nice downhill "Hamms Gulch Trail" down to Alpine road where there was a really pretty creek (no drinking water for humans though), then walked back up along "Spring Ridge Trail", which was less shade, but amazing views. I think all up it was ~6 miles, but we actually took 4.5 hours of walking because we made lots of stops and were pacing ourselves. Was quite a good descent and ascent to it - was pretty tired toward the end. Quite a nice trail, and most of it dog friendly... was even a dog bath up of the top of "spring ridge trail". :) Saw a garter snake, bunnies, coyote and a deer on the drive back. Also stopped for dinner at "Alice's restaurant", which was a pretty cool little place. :)

WARNING: Carry lots of water (was quite hot when we went), and beware there is a heap of poison oak lining parts of the trail.
Duration: ~3-4 hrs.

East Bay

Joaquin Miller: Fern Ravine Trail

Hike joaquin miller.jpg

37.8075,-122.177 10672 Skyline Boulevard Once you hit Skyline Blvd look for the "big trees access" entry point and hopefully you'll be able to park on the road (parellel parking) not too far from the entrance.


pano1 - entry point
pano2 - fallen tree
pano3 - sunset

There are actually trails all over the place here, and it's easy to get lost so it's recommended you have your phone charged with Google maps, or a print out in case you get lost! I went with some good freinds from the city and the path we took was Sequoia Bayview Trail > Fern Ravine Trail (very pretty with ferns) then Sunset Trail > PalosColorados Trail to get back to the access point.
Duration: ~2 hrs.

Mid Bay

The Stanford Dish Hike

Hike stanford dish.jpg

Palo Alto
899 Junipero Serra Blvd (Stanford Dish Hiking Trail entrance) Parking can be tricky, but my friend showed "secret spot" in the "Perkins Coie LLP" parking lot around 3150 Porter Dr Palo Alto... and you can then walk along Foothill Expressway to get to the entrance.


entrance pano1 pano2

A lovely and easy little walk along a paved road with moderate hills. It's very popular with Stanford students and families so you'll see lots of people and short enough that you don't really even need water (but hey, why not take some anyway). The trail is a loop and the "dish" itself is about half-way around.
Duration: <1 hr.

San Francisco Itself

Lands End Trail

Hike lands end.jpg

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
37.7841,-122.5040 1259-1299 El Camino Del Mar Drive to the "Legio of Honor" fine arts musem building, then turn left onto "El Camino Del Mar" and find a parking spot. Walk to the western end and you'll see the entrance.


pano1 - spiral and view

This is a really lovely walk along the coast that gives prime views of the Golden Gate bridge (providing it's not foggy!) and patches of lovely coastal forest and information signs along the way. From the suggested start spot you can either walk north or take a longer route around. The main thin is that once your on the "Lands End Trail" you can walk as far along it as you want! :)

Walking south all the way to the "sutro baths" will take up extra time, but the baths are pretty famous in their own right and you'll also get the chance to read about the history of a certain railroad and US warship.
Duration: ~2-5 hrs. (depends how far you go!)

North Bay

Point Reyes - Meadow and Bear Valley trails

Hike point reyes bear valley.jpg

The Bear Valley Visitor Center
Point Reyes Drive along the pretty highway 1, then turn off on "Bear Valley Road" and park somewhere along the Bear Valley Visitor Center Access Road. Visit the visitor center there and they'll let you know any rules (you need a hike-to campsite permit to keep your car overnight / past sunset) and point out the start of any trail.


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Point Reyes is amazing. :)

I've only been once so far, but did an amazing 13 mile hike starting at the visitor center then walked along Meadow, then Sky, then Coastal then back via Bear Valley trails (see map. Along the trail there's access to the beach, which was especially special for me because we sighted a small group of grey whales only 50 meters (~200 feet) offshore! Hope to explore more soon.

Point Reyes national park has four hike-to campsites, but you need to book these 48 hours ahead. They have *some* walk on spots (people who arrive on the day), but they disappear by really early (like 7-8am) in the morning, so is best to book ahead.

If you don't want to walk to a campsite Olema Ranch Campground is very close to the visitor center and had good facilities. $50 a night in a crowded tent area seems a bit pricey, but might be your only close option on a busy weekend and can still be lovely to camp there. :)
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Hike's I Want to Try

Below are the hikes I really want to try soon! Most of all I want to try some hikes North of San Francisco!! :)
If you're a friend who I've shared this page with please feel free to make suggestions to me and hopefully we can go together.

Name Starting Location Guides Pics Description

Hikes I Want to Try

San Adreas Sanborn Loop


Sanborn Skyline County Park
37.2345,-122.0629 Ohlone Picnic Area on Sanorn Rd ...



Duration: ~6 hrs.

Bear Gulch and Alambique Trails


Wunderlich County Park
37.4106,-122.2612 4040 Woodside Road ...



Duration: ~6 hrs.



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Duration: ~6 hrs.