The Most Unique Hiking Spots in the Bay Area 

By Matthew Selman

There are plenty of beautiful places to go for a walk in the Bay Area. Whether you want to find elevation, walk by the ocean, or in the woods, there is a spot for you. 

A popular yet beautiful place to hike is Muir Woods National Park. Muir Woods is home to thousands of redwood trees and many other plants. Throughout the hike there are signs explaining the history of John Muir and the surrounding area. The hike is densely packed with trees which allows for lots of shade. This hike is a fun one to do with family or friends that are not the most experienced hikers.

Another fun hike is at Point Reyes National Seashore. There are multiple trails to follow, all of which are pretty easy. Once you get to the parking lot, you can follow the shore line for up to two miles, or you can hike away from the shoreline and up into the hills of the Pacific coast. There is a beautiful view of the Point Reyes Lighthouse, where silhouettes fit perfectly with the sunset. Pretty views aren’t the only part about Point Reyes, there are also hundreds of species of birds and wildlife. For those interested in bird watching, Point Reyes is the place for you. 

One hiking place that is a little closer than the other two is Crockett Hills Regional Park. This hiking spot has over fifteen trails to choose from, each with different views and difficulty. The Soaring Eagle trail has an amazing view of the Carquinez Bridge. The majority of the trails here are fairly easy, and not many of them are too long. It is a perfect place to get away for a day in nature with your family and friends. One downside to these trails are the views. There are pretty views of the straight and the bridge, but despite this, it is not very breathtaking. 

One of the most difficult trails in the Bay Area is located in Los Gatos. The trail is on Mount El Sombroso. It is a thirteen mile trek with a 2189 foot elevation gain in just six miles. This is a hike you would not want to take someone with minimal experience. This is a hike that takes multiple hours, but it is all worth it. There are beautiful views of the Santa Cruz mountains and in some places you can see the ocean. This hike is particularly difficult because of the elevation gain, for about 6 miles the elevation gain is not too bad, but the second half of the hike quickly gets steeper. 

Finally, my personal favorite is the hike on Montara Mountain. This hike puts all of the trails listed above into one. It combines technique and difficulty, has beautiful views, and has different terrain to hike on. You can access this trail through the North Peak Access Road. It is around eight miles long, with a fairly steep incline. Throughout the hike you will have perfect views of Montara State Beach, and the mountains surrounding Highway 1. If you take this hike on a busy day like a Saturday, you’ll find fellow hikers but not too many. One plus side of hiking this trail is the ability to enjoy other activities besides the hike. There are some really nice breakfast and lunch spots just up the coast in Pacifica, and of course there are several beaches you can visit. In Los Gatos, there are frequent car meet ups where you can see some of the nicest cars in the area. 

Overall, the Bay Area is a really solid place to find trails. It can feel that there’s not enough nature in the Bay Area but in reality there are beautiful hikes all around the area. That’s the beauty of California, you can find several hikes with different challenges and terrain. Get out, go outside, and enjoy the natural beauty of the place we get to live in. 

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