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. Hikes below are ordered from most interesting to least interesting.
Tomales Bay has four different beaches next to the blue placid water of Tomales Bay. All four beaches may connected in one long route.
A beautiful hike through varied terrain including sandy beaches, rocky beaches and forests. Heart's Desire Beach is the most popular beach at Tomales Bay. To the north of Heart's Desire Beach lies Indian Beach which offers a half-mile long hike in low tide conditions.
On a clear day, East Peak in Mt Tamalpais offers incredible views of San Pablo Bay and San Francisco Bay. Mt Tamalpais is criss-crossed by myriad trails, so there are multiple hikes to East Peak from different trailheads.
The shortest route to East Peak is from Fern Canyon Road, gaining 1600 ft in 2.5 miles. The views from Verna Dunshee Trail which goes around East Peak are pretty awesome. Parking is tight on Fern Canyon Road. Only three to four cars may be parked here.
A variation of the hike above with a gentler descent, going through another peak nearby called Middle Peak.
The views from Hill 88 in Marin Headlands are quite incredible. Hill 88 lies near the intersection of Wolf Ridge Trail and Coastal Trail. It is reachable by a side trip along a paved road. Since it requires a side trip, many hikers do not climb the hill and bypass it, thereby missing out on incredible views of San Francisco Bay, the Pacific Ocean and various valleys in Marin Headlands.
A second great location for bay views, including the Golden Gate Bridge is along the south east section of Marin Headlands. The hike to Black Sands Beach has details.
A fantastic hike that offers great views of Angel Island, Highway 101 and Golden Gate Bridge as the route meanders through green rolling hills. The destination is Black Sands Beach, a long sandy beach with few visitors.
Fanastic views of San Francisco Bay, Tiburon peninsula and various bridges near the bay.
The hike to Mt Livermore is gently graded. Picnic areas atop the peak. Fantastic 360-degree views. Combined with a walk along Perimeter Road that encircles the island, this hike offers the best of Angel Island.
A long hike that covers all the major trails in China Camp. It goes through varied terrain including walks along the San Pablo Bay shoreline and green rolling hills. Shorter hikes with views of San Pablo Bay are feasible. Consult the trail map for China Camp.
A pretty hike that goes through all major trails in Point Pinole, including a walk along the San Pablo Bay shoreline for over two miles. Most inland trails were without shade and it was fairly windy in August 2011.
Miller-Knox Shoreline is a small park that offers two short hikes: one amid the hills with great views of San Francisco Bay and another hike all along the shoreline.
Short walk on rolling hills with gorgeous views of Angel Island. the island slowly appears in the horizon like a sleeping dinosaur. Both Golden Gate Bridge and Richmon - San Rafael Bridge are also visible.
Short walk to a church with fabulous views of nearby dwellings and San Francisco Bay.
Mission Peak is arguably the most popular hike in the bay area. Every day, dozens of individuals hike three miles from the Stanford Avenue trailhead to the top of Mission Peak, gaining 2100 ft in the process. Views of East Bay and San Francisco Bay are pretty awesome. If the hike is started early morning, before sunrise, then the views coming downhill are pretty awesome as the sun rises in the east.
Short and sweet hike through marshes and hills overlooking San Francisco Bay.
San Bruno Mountain
San Bruno Mountain has a Ridge Trail which is over two miles long. One gets to see San Francisco Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other side all along this trail. From the parking lot, the trails that lead up to Summit Trail are full of wildflowers in spring. So the best time to enjoy both wildflower displays and bay views is the month of March.
A long walk along salt marshes and ponds near Alviso Marina that goes through almost all the trails in that area. Shorter loops are possible. Study trail map.
Point Isabel in Richmond offers short hikes along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay. It is full of dog lovers who come to this park with their dogs. On a typical weekend, you may see a few hundred dogs.
A pleasant walk next to San Francisco Bay amid dozens of dogs.
Palo Alto Baylands
Hikes in Palo Alto Baylands are most awesome in early morning and late evening, during sunrise and sunset respectively. Hiking trails meander next to marshlands that are inhabited by thousands of birds. Some trails have water bodies on both sides. The reflections of clouds and sun make sunrise and sunset particularly beautiful.
A pleasant walk along Hayward Shoreline. From Hayward Shoreline INterpretive Center in the south, the walk continues to Luisa's Perubian Food and Bar in the north. Shorter routes are possible by turning back at any point of time and retracing your steps.