21+ Best Hiking Trails in the Bay Area

Hiking through the giant Redwoods of California can be a unique experience. Oftentimes, calm trails are created when pathways meander through locations that are shaded by gigantic trees that have been there for hundreds of years, are surrounded by gorgeous flora, and are intersected by waterways. There are several chances for day outings and weekend vacations thanks to the presence of more than 20 parks in close proximity to the Bay Area. The following are some of our preferred locations:

Mt. Tamalpais

This beautifully well-developed park offers a number of trails that run through the park and often crisscross one another. The park has routes of varying degrees of difficulty, ranging from tracks with relatively flat terrain that are simple to navigate to trails that have winding paths that provide a more difficult course. If you want to see San Francisco from a vantage point that is really spectacular, climb to the top of East Peak. Alternatively, you may descend one of the northern trails, which will lead you into the heart of the redwood forest and through a number of waterfalls.

Cascade Range

This small redwood park offers one trail that runs roughly 2.4 miles through a redwood forest. The bulk of the route is comprised of a concrete footpath, and hikers will make their way through densely wooded parts that provide enough cover from the sun. In the center of the trail, there is a lovely overlook that provides a breathtaking perspective of the surrounding valley. The path offers a wonderful opportunity to reacquaint oneself with the natural world as well as an exceptional degree of tranquility.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: Fall Creek Trail

This seven-mile trail runs through this picturesque park and includes a picnic area, a beautiful creek, and a few areas of undeveloped wilderness areas, which leads to a feeling of running in the countryside. The climb of the Big Ben Tree Trail is a strenuous exercise due to the many twists and turns that occur along the route.

Purisima Creek Redwoods

This popular hiking park offers three separate trails for hikers to explore. Loops may be taken around the park in a variety of different directions, making it possible to go on walks of varying lengths. The end of winter and the beginning of spring are the ideal times of the year to pay a visit since this is when the water level in the creek is at its highest, which brings an additional aspect of the natural world into the experience. Depending on whatever route you take around the park, the many pathways may either be relaxing or hard for you.

Angel Island

4.8 miles/7.7km

Angel Island may be reached by taking the Tiburon Ferry, the Blue & Gold Ferry, or the East Bay Ferry. All three ferries depart from San Francisco (note that there is an additional fee to enter the park)
Angel Island, which is in the center of San Francisco Bay and was once used as the customs point for people entering the United States, is now a magnificent park on the island. On days when the weather is clear, you will be treated to breathtaking vistas of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands. When you get there, you have the option of hiking the approximately five-mile perimeter road of the island or climbing Mount Livermore in the park for stunning views in every direction. It is without a doubt one of our most-loved walks in the Bay Area.

A helpful hint: Because this park is such a popular destination for visitors to San Francisco, it may become rather congested. If you want to avoid the largest number of people, your best bet is to go during the week or first thing in the morning.

Cataract Falls


Cataract Falls is a popular destination for hikers in Marin County, which is known for having some of the most scenic and challenging trails in the Bay Area. The whole path is littered with plunging waterfalls, so you’ll always be on the lookout for something new as you make your way around the trail.

Driving is by far the most convenient mode of transportation to use while traveling to the Mount Tamalpais region. Cataract Falls, which is located in the general vicinity of San Francisco and is a favorite destination for hikers, is like a combination of a mountainous fairytale and an enchanted forest. This path, which can be found in the Mount Tamalpais region of northern California, is an excellent choice for a trip with the whole family or for an individual trek through some of the region’s most scenic and wooded sections. Wooden boardwalks and gravel paths lead you through the forest to many distinct waterfalls, which are a nice difference from some of the brighter and dryer peak hikes you’ll find in the Bay Area. The forest is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, and foxes.

As Cataract Falls is one of the most popular treks in the Bay Area, it is recommended that you go on a weekday if you want to minimize your chance of encountering large crowds.

Twin Peaks

2.1 miles/3.4km

Hiking up to Twin Peaks, home to one of the city’s most famous vantage points, is a rewarding experience for hikers of any skill level. Hiking up Twin Peaks is often ranked as one of the most popular things to do in the Bay Area. The top affords panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Bay Area. On days when the weather is clear, you will be treated to breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the city center of San Francisco. The Twin Peaks Nature Area is home to a wide variety of local flora and fauna, including various plant and animal species that may be found along the route and in the surrounding area. You may even be able to find some wildflowers if you go at the right time of year.

Hiking up to Twin Peaks around dawn is recommended if you want to escape the crowds and obtain the greatest lighting for your photographs.

Mission Peak


Hiking up Mission Peak is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that pays off for tourists with breathtaking vistas of the Bay Area in every direction. The legendary “Mission Peeker” is a monument that is in the form of a six-foot pole with a bunch of sighting tubes pointing in different directions. Hikers that make the steep trek up to its 2,517-foot summit also, of course, make it a point to take a few selfies with the “Mission Peeker,” a monument that has been around for a long time.

Mount Diablo

14 mi/22.5km

This trek is hardly a stroll in the park, but the rewards more than makeup for the difficulty. Mount Diablo is the tallest mountain in the East Bay, and it offers hikers who are willing to put in the effort some of the most breathtaking 360-degree vistas the Bay Area has to offer. The Summit Trail is a wonderful place for walking, jogging, and viewing birds; in addition, it is lined with miles upon miles of stunning mountain wildflowers. The hike is challenging, so make sure you bring enough water and food with you, and don’t forget that sturdy hiking boots are an absolute need for this location.

Tennessee Valley

3.4 miles/5.5km

How to Go There: On the weekends, downtown San Francisco residents may take the 76X bus to get to the Marin Headlands. In any other case, you may drive, and there are parking options nearby.

The Tennessee Valley route is not only one of the most magnificent paths in the Marin Headlands, but it is also an exceptionally attractive pathway that is simple to navigate. This makes it an ideal option for those who are pressed for time. This is a simple walk that leads you down the coast and provides breathtaking views of the granite cliffs in the Marin Headlands. You will begin your hike in the grassy meadows that are found on the headlands, and you will walk all the way to the coast. Along the route, you will have several possibilities to take photographs, as the landscape will change from grassy meadows to rocky shorelines. Find your way to Tennessee Valley for a trek that is not only one of the simplest but also one of the most beautiful in the Bay Area.

Nimitz Way Trail at Inspiration Point

5.9 miles/9.5km

It’s possible that the Nimitz Way Trail is one of the most aesthetically intriguing treks in the Bay Area. On one side of the structure, you get breathtaking views of the city as seen from above. On the opposite side, you will see shimmering lakes and verdant mountains that give off the impression of being far removed from civilization. We thought it would be a good idea to add the Nimitz Way Trail to Inspiration Point not only because it is a more difficult urban trek than some of the others on our list, but also because it offers some of the most breathtaking panoramas over the surrounding region of Berkeley.

Getting There: Take the BART to Berkeley, then hire an Uber to go to the trailhead; if you’d rather drive, there is parking on-site if that works better for you.

Berry Creek Loop at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

11.2 miles/18km

Driving one’s own vehicle is by far the quickest and most convenient method to reach Big Basin. Do not look any farther than the Berry Creek Loop at Big Basin State Park if you are seeking treks in the Bay Area that are both cool and shaded. Hikers may reach a beautiful waterfall at the end of this 11.2-mile track that passes through a grove of redwood trees. The journey to get to the Berry Creek waterfall is a task that is doable to even less experienced hikers (with some patience and grit!). The waterfall itself is beautiful, and the hike there presents a challenge. You’ll get some great views of the city as well as the natural landscapes that surround it as you make your way through the woodland paths, gorgeous bridges, and other highlights along the route.

Castle Rock Trail

5.9 miles/9.5km

How to Get There Driving is going to be your best bet for getting to Mount Diablo from anywhere in the Bay Area, including San Francisco. The Castle Rock Path is a picturesque circular trail located in the western portion of Mount Diablo State Park. It is one of the more well-known destinations to go hiking in the San Francisco and Bay Area areas of California. The walk has stunning wildflower displays, rock formations, and panoramic views of the park regions around Mount Diablo. There are a handful of steep inclines throughout the trail, but other than that, it is rather straightforward. Along the whole length of the walk, you will have the opportunity to witness the twisted remnants of ancient oak trees as well as fields with cattle grazing.

If you are feeling very daring, you may make the ascent to the peak of Mount Diablo from the Castle Rock loop.

Donner Creek Loop

5.1 miles/8.2km

If you are someone who enjoys waterfalls, the Donner Creek Loop will be a wonderful experience for you. This is one of the most beautiful treks in the Bay Area since it takes you through wooded regions and has not one but four separate waterfalls that you may investigate. You’ll also be treated to some stunning panoramas of the valleys below and the hills in the surrounding area. If you intend on going on the trip, particularly after it has been raining for a while, it is highly recommended that you wear waterproof hiking boots so that you may safely cross any streams that you come across.

This climb offers the greatest views of the waterfall if you do it after it has been raining. Driving is the fastest and most convenient method to reach Mount Diablo from any location in the Bay Area, including San Francisco.

Eagle Peak Loop

7.6 miles/12.2km

Driving is going to be your best bet for getting to Mount Diablo from anywhere in the Bay Area, including San Francisco.

Eagle Peak Loop is a difficult route in Mount Diablo State Park that is highly gorgeous and has wonderful views of Mitchell Canyon. It is a little further off the beaten path than many of the other trails on our list, making it a good option for hikers looking for a more remote experience. On days when the weather is good, you will get a great view of the Sierra Nevada mountains from the pathways that are bordered by beautiful and vivid wildflowers. On this trip, there are several areas that are steep and have loose gravel, therefore we strongly advise carrying trekking poles with you.

Vicente Flat Trail

10.9 miles/17.5km

The Vicente Flat Trail is widely regarded as one of the most breathtaking trails in the San Francisco area since it passes through wooded areas, mountain ranges, and even comes close to the ocean. On this route, you will get a good mix of sun and shade due to the fact that the walkway weaves in and out of spots that are shaded. Take a moment to look at you throughout the first half of the journey to take in the breathtaking scenery of the Big Sur coastline. This walk is often completed over the course of two days, with overnight stays at either the Vicente or Espinosa campgrounds. It’s a beautiful overnight hiking trek with breathtaking views of the sunset!

A word of advice: this route is home to both poison oak and a large number of insects, so if you want to prevent any uncomfortable itching sensations, make sure to bring along some insect repellent and wear long socks. Driving is going to be your best bet for getting to Big Sur from San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area.

Lands End Trail

3.5 miles/5.6km

One of the most rugged and breathtaking trails in the Bay Area is the Lands End Trail, which can be found tucked away in a remote and apparently undeveloped section of the city. This route whisks you away from the bustling streets of San Francisco and deposits you in the midst of a tranquil and unforgiving natural setting. It has a number of derelict buildings, such as shipwrecks and the Sutro Baths, as well as rocky shorelines. The views of the bay that can be had from the route as well as the beach are stunning beyond words. Even while the Lands End route isn’t very challenging on its own, you should still be sure to wear shoes that are durable. Additionally, you should be prepared to use steps since the topography in this area is rather mountainous and rocky.

Important: If you want to get the finest views, get there early! When the weather is nice and there are a lot of people out on the route, it can become rather congested.

Palos Colorados Trail

3 miles/4.8km

Driving is the most convenient mode of transportation for reaching Palos Colorados. You may also take an Uber or a Lyft, but keep in mind that the park does not have very good phone coverage, so it is best to make transportation arrangements in advance if you can.

One of the greatest trails in the Bay Area for you to go hiking on is the Palos Colorados Trail, which is located in Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park. On this trail, you’ll find big trees, babbling streams, and dirt walkways. This easy, relatively short out-and-back trail is perfect for families and beginners because it is easy to get to San Francisco and has beautiful exposure to the towering Redwood trees that are in the area. The trail also has an out-and-back configuration, which makes it relatively easy to navigate. No of the weather, the Palos Colorados Trail is always an excellent choice for a hike because of the eerie atmosphere that may be created by the fog that settles among the trees along the path.

Ewoldsen Trail

5 miles/8.1km

The Ewoldsen Trail is known as one of the most beautiful trails in the Bay Area since it travels through redwood groves and along rocky coastlines. You are in for a great treat here because of its position in the Big Sur region, with expansive views out to the ocean that can be seen from walkways that are covered in lush vegetation. Wear long trousers and be sure you apply insect spray since the route, in certain parts, passes through places with a lot of vegetation. There are rumors that there are a lot of ticks in this area. Driving is the fastest and most convenient method to travel to Big Sur from San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area.

Rubicon Trail

16.4 miles/26.4km

Driving yourself is going to be the fastest and most convenient method to go from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe.

If you are interested in exchanging the Redwoods for evergreens, the Rubicon Trail, which is located in the southern portion of Lake Tahoe, is the place to go. This lengthy walk goes in both directions, out and back, and it is located in D. L. Bliss State Park. It offers breathtaking views of the turquoise lake and the surrounding mountains, as well as lots of shady locations for a brief nap. You may walk the full 16.4 miles, or you can only go as far as you like and then turn around. Either way, the entire trip will provide you with opportunities to take in vistas that are incredibly breathtaking. Because the path is blocked in certain sections during the winter, it is important to make appropriate travel plans or to go during the busier months of April through October.

Please be aware that there is a possibility that roads leading up to the trailhead may be closed due to the season.

Meeks Bay to Crag Lake

9.8 miles/15.8km

The Meeks Bay to Crag Lake route is an excellent option for hikers looking for trails close to San Francisco and the Bay Area because of its breathtaking wildflower-lined roads and expansive views of Lake Tahoe. This path is especially tempting for individuals who are looking for some peace and quiet when they are out for a stroll since it passes through the Desolation Wilderness. You will make your way past rock formations, dense forests of towering pine trees, and alpine meadows before arriving at the picturesque Crag Lake. This is the ideal location to cool down in the water or take a break for some lunch.

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