Giant redwoods are awe inspiring. There are over 20 redwood parks near bay area. Each one has nice hiking trails. For best experience, visit in winters, after rains, when creeks are flowing with water and lush green fern carpets the hills.
Best time? Any time of the year. For best experience, visit in winters, after rains.
Lush green hills are common in East Bay. These hikes are best done from March to May, when rains have subsided and trails are no longer muddy. By June, summer has set in, many of the hills have turned brown and day temperatures are high.
Trails meandering next to creeks, especially in redwood forests, are among the most pleasant. The sound of flowing water is soothing. Creeks have plenty of water soon after rains, especially from February to April.
Best time? January — April, especially after rains or thunderstorms.
There are several parks around San Francisco Bay and its myriad arms like Suisun Bay, San Leandro Bay and Tomales Bay. Many of these parks offer hikes next to the bay. Some parks offer hikes to peaks or vista points from which these bays are visible.
Cross country hikes are possible on lands that allow us to walk in any direction. Almost all the parks in the bay area disallow walking off trail because it destroys the trails and the surrounding eco-system. However, BLM lands have no such restrictions.
Two hikes are focused on wildlife: tule elk in Point Reyes and elephant seals in Año Nuevo. Otherwise, not much wildlife is seen in the bay area. Deer are sometimes spotted. Cows are common in spring and summer on lands where grazing is allowed. On rare occasions, coyotes, rattlesnakes and bobcats are sighted. Birds abound in forests and marshlands.