The best season to visit redwood parks is winters, after rains, when creeks and waterfalls are full of water.
Big Basin has a large network of hiking trails. The most popular hike is to Berry Creek Falls. The 28-mile Skyline to the Sea Trail also goes via this park.
Butano is one of my favorite parks with gorgeous trails next to creeks and canyons.
Portola Redwoods and
Purisima Creek also have awesome trails going through redwoods.
Cascade Ranch lies to the west of Big Basin. Gorgeous loops can be constructed from this entrance by combining trails from Big Basin.
Henry Cowell - Fall Creek has the 3-mile Fall Creek Trail, which is gorgeous in winter after rains. Henry Cowell has river crossing hikes which require us to wade through water at four places. Forest of Nisene Marks is home to Maple Falls, a seasonal waterfall which looks awesome after recent thunderstorms. Other hikes in this park are also good.
Medicine Buddha has a six mile loop adjoining a Buddhist monastery. Wilder Ranch has a variety of trails through thick forest, open spaces and ocean views.
Rancho San Antonio is probably the most popular park for hiking in the bay area, next to Mission Peak.
Hidden Villa is a less known park with equally good trails, lying to the west of Rancho San Antonio. It is possible to form long loops by combining trails in both parks.
Stanford Dish is a popular park with a short four mile hike along a paved road. Great location for those looking for their first hike.
Uvas Canyon is a hidden gem of the bay area with shaded trails and gorgeous mini-waterfalls in late winters.
Henry Coe is a very large park with hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Almost all trails are in the open. Best visited in spring when hills are green and temperatures are not that high.
Mount Tamalpais and
Muir Woods are adjacent to each other. Both are classic destinations in the bay area for redwood hikes. The most popular hike is Steep Ravine - Matt Davis loop, which goes along a creek for several miles. Other great destinations are Cataract Falls and East Peak.
Point Reyes is a paradise for hikers, exuding a feeling of expansiveness. Home to several beaches, campsites and dozens of miles of hiking trails. The hike to Alamere Falls is the most popular. It leads to a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean. The views from Drakes Head are spectacular. Other popular destinations are Arch Rock, Tomales Point and Point Reyes Lighthouse.
Marin Headlands is a few miles north of Golden Gate Bridge with great hikes. I really like the Coastal Trail and Rodeo Beach.
Slide Ranch has a gorgeous short hike all along the Pacific, leading to a non profit dairy farm.
Tomales Bay has a great hike via four beaches adjacent to Tomales Bay.
San Francisco offers a gorgeous hike all along the Coastal Trail.
Angel Island has a short, sweet hike to Mt Livermore, the highest point in the island. Great 360-degree views and picnic area atop the peak.
San Bruno Mountain is a small park with lots of wildflowers in early spring. One of the hiking trails along a north-south ridge offers the unique experience of seeing San Francisco Bay in the east and Pacific Ocean in the west, both at the same time.
Fort Funston is a small area next to the Pacific Ocean. A long nine-mile beach is accessible here.
Mussel Rock is another park next to the Pacific lying at the southern terminus of the nine mile beach.
McNee Ranch and
San Pedro Valley are adjacent to each other. The most popular hike is to Mount Montara. By combining trails from both parks, good routes can be formed.
Montara Beach lies to the south of McNee Ranch.
Gray Whale Cove cove lies to the north By combining trails leading to both, longer, interesting routes can be formed. Something unique about these routes is the variety of micro climates we get to experience.
Mori Point and
Pacifica Beach are connected by trails all along the ocean. This route is one of my favorites. It goes via beaches and hills, with several locations to pause, explore and absorb nature.
Filoli Gardens is popular in spring when wildflowers bloom with joy. Golden Gate Park and Hokane Gardens are two more gardens in the bay area.
East San Jose
Joseph D Grant is a large park with a variety of trails, shaded and unshaded. Best visited in spring when hills are green. Many find it surprising that a park so beautiful is adjacent to San Jose.
Alum Rock has a good trail system with nice hikes.
Fremont & Milpitas
Sunol is one of my favorite parks in East Bay. Lovely, panoramic views of lush green valleys in spring.
Ohlone Wilderness has Rose Peak which is reachable via a twenty mile, 4000+ ft hike. Many bay area residents don't know that such a hike exists right in our backyard.
Mission Peak and Rancho San Antonio are the two most popular parks in teh bay area for hiking. Some people equate the word hiking with walking up to Mission Peak, unaware that so many other routes exist in the bay area. Best done in spring when hills are lush green. Also popular for full moon hikes because the park remains open till 10pm.
Ed Levin is adjacent to Mission Peak, offering a similar experience. Paid parking makes this park less popular.
Alviso Marina has long, flat hiking trails along levies in marshlands on the periphery of San Francisco Bay. Good for quiet, serene walks. Plenty of wildlife.
Lake Chabot is a popular destination with hiking trails that circumambulate a large lake. Adjacent to Anthony Chabot Regional Preserve. Trails from these two parks may be combined for longer routes.
Del Valle offers gorgeous trails in hills overlooking Del Valle Lake.
Upper San Leandro Reservoir is adjacent to Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. Great network of hiking trails with panoramic valley views.