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. Hikes listed below do not go through peaks, which are listed separately under Peak Hikes.
Henry Coe State Park in Gilroy is a mecca for avid hikers, with over 250 miles of hiking trails. Trails are rugged, which means that they are not always gently sloping. Also, there is a sense of isolation because the park is not as frequently visited as other bay area parks. In spring, after rains, panoramic views of green rolling hills are a spectacle to behold.
A pleasant hike through Orestimba Wilderness combining trails through green rolling hills and around Mississippi Lake. Many sections of Hartman Trail were particularly steep. Orestimba Wilderness lies deep inside Henry Coe. Every year, a road providing access to Orestimba is opened for one weekend. Limited access is provided by lottery.
Del Valle Lake
Del Valle Lake is a large serene lake in Livermore. There are hiking trails all along the eastern side of the lake. The views of the lake along this trail are pretty awesome.
A classic Big Sur hike from Andrew Molera State Park to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Includes some really steep sections. The section of the hike between Post Summit and Mount Manuel is tricky. It requires route finding skills and walking through dense bushes. It would be best to do this hike with somebody who is familiar with the route.
A nice hike to a peak with great views of Pacific Ocean and the valleys below the peak. The trail to Manuel Peak was well maintained in Feb 2012.
Panoche, Griswold and Tumey Hills are BLM owned lands that allow cross-country hiking, which means that we may legally go off trails to explore. These lands are located about 2.5 hours east of San Jose. The landscape is unlike any other park in the bay area. Cross-country hiking is harder than regular hiking because the terrain is uneven. Plus good navigational skills in wilderness are important.
In April 2011, I joined a meetup group for an enjoyable 12-mile cross-country hike. The last few miles of the hike involved over 30 creek crossings, making it a unique and memorably experience. This hike can be done only in the month of April. Prior to April, water level is too high. May onwards, the temperature is too high.
Joseph D Grant County Park is an expansive park in east San Jose. In spring and summer, green rolling hills decorated by trees are a treat for the eyes. There are lots of trails in the park, so many different loops may be designed.
Nice route through several trails in the southern section of the park.
Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in Moraga is a large park with lush green hills and valley views. Some of the trails, especially those climbing from the parking lot towards Rocky Ridge Loop are pretty steep. To the west of Las Trampas lies Upper San Leandro Reservoir which also has long hiking trails. These trails may be combined for long loops that offer a sense of isolation because these are lightly traversed.
An extension of the hike above that also covers a section of Ramage Peak Trail.
Upper San Leandro Reservoir
Hiking trails in Upper San Leandro Reservoir are mostly in the open. No trail goes near the reservoir, which is visible from afar from several vantage points. The park is flanked by Redwood Regional Park in the west and Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in the east. Long routes may be formed by combining trails from these parks. Below are listed three different variations of Kings Canyon Loop from different starting points.
Calero County Park in south San Jose is a large sized park criss-crossed by many trails. Rancho Canada Del Oro Open Space Preserve lies to its south. Trails from these two parks may be combined to form many interesting loops. Most of the trails are unshaded. Best visited in spring, after rains, for awesome views of green valleys.
A pleasant hike through green rolling hills. Best done in spring.
Marin Headlands lies about five miles north of Golden Gate Bridge. It has several trails through ridges and valleys that offer great views. Four points of interest at Marin Headlands are: Muir Beach, Tennessee Cove, Rodeo Beach, Hill 88 and Black Sands Beach. Valley views from Hill 88 are exceptional. With so many trails in Marin Headlands, there are many different routes that may be composed. Some examples are:
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.
An awesome hike through green rolling hills with panoramic valley views culminating in a quiet beach. There are unnamed trails on either side of the cove that climb quickly for gorgeous views of the coastline.
Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve has rugged terrain, which means that there are steep sections along trails. Also, there is a sense of remoteness because few hikers visit the preserve. Trails go over green rolling hills with awesome valley views.