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Bay Area Hikes
Bay Area Hikes

Bay Area Hikes over Lush Green Hills

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

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.

8.9 miles
1800 ft
Coit - Jackson - Wasno - Grizzly Gulch
A pretty hike through green rolling hills in the western edge of Henry Coe.
11.2 miles
1900 ft
Mississippi Lake from Orestimba Corral
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.

9.3 miles
800 ft
East Shore Trail in Del Valle
A route that meanders along the east shore of Del Valle Lake.

Cabezo Prieto Ridge in Big Sur

Cabeze Prieto Ridge Trail is a one-way hike from Andrew Molera State Park to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The trail goes through two peaks: Post Summit and Manuel Peak.

11.2 miles
4300 ft
Cabezo Prieto Ridge
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.
8.9 miles
3600 ft
Post Summit
A steep Big Sur hike in Andrew Molera State Park. Great 360-degree views from the summit. The trail to Post Summit was well maintained in Feb 2012.
9.5 miles
3500 ft
Manuel Peak
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 Hills

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.

12.0 miles
2500 ft
Cross-Country Hike in Tumey Hills
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 Grant

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.

9.6 miles
1600 ft
Grant Park - Southern Loop I
Nice route through several trails in the southern section of the park.

Las Trampas

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.

7.1 miles
2000 ft
Rocky Ridge Loop
A nice route in the western section of Las Trampas, going along Rocky Ridge Loop Trail.
12.3 miles
3600 ft
Rocky Ridge Loop - Ramage Peak Trail
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.

7.9 miles
1300 ft
Kings Canyon Loop from Pinehurst Road
About a third of the route is shaded.
6.5 miles
900 ft
Kings Canyon Loop from Valle Vista Staging Area
Mostly unshaded route.
11.2 miles
2300 ft
Kings Canyon Loop from Redwood Regional Park
A long hike starting in Redwood Regional Park.

Round Valley

Round Valley Regional Preserve in Brentwood has trails through hills that are gorgeous green after rains.

4.6 miles
1000 ft
Hardy Canyon Trail - Miwok Trail
A short hike through rolling hills.

Calero

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.

8.6 miles
1900 ft
Long Loop in Calero - Route I
Great hike through green rolling hills and rugged terrain.

Rancho Canada Del Oro

Rancho Canada de Oro Open Space Preserve lies to the south of Calero County Park in south San Jose. Trails from these two parks may be combined for long interesting loops.

8.0 miles
1500 ft
Long Loop in Rancho Canada del Oro - Route I
A pleasant hike through green rolling hills. Best done in spring.

Marin Headlands

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:

11.5 miles
2600 ft
Coastal Trail in Marin Headlands
A spectacular hike from the northern end of Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Beach.
7.4 miles
1800 ft
Golden Gate Bridge to Black Sands Beach
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.
7.6 miles
1000 ft
Miwok Trail - Rodeo Beach - Point Bonita
A fantastic route through green rolling hills and beaches with great ocean views.
13.1 miles
2300 ft
Muir Beach to Tennessee Beach - Long Loop
A spectacular route through rolling hills and coastal views.
10.8 miles
1700 ft
Redwood Creek - Miwok - Coastal Trail
Gorgeous hike through varied terrain like hills with valley views, coastal trail with great views of the Pacific, scramble down to a cove.
9.5 miles
1500 ft
Rodeo Beach - Black Sands Beach Loop
An awesome hike through two beaches and hills in Marin Headlands with great valley views.
9.4 miles
2300 ft
Tennessee Cove - Long Route
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

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.

10.7 miles
2300 ft
Priest Rock and Limekiln Trails - Route III
Rugged terrain and panoramic views abound in this hike.

San Pedro Valley

5.8 miles
1200 ft
Hazelnut - Valley View Loop
Pleasant walk through green rolling hills with panoramic valley views.

Black Diamond Mines

6.0 miles
1500 ft
Nortonville - Coal Canyon - Black Diamond
Gorgeous route through forests and open spaces of Black Diamond Mines going through mining related attractions in the park

Garin

6.4 miles
1100 ft
Jordan Pond - High Rige - Vista Peak Loop - Zeile Creek
Gorgeous hike over green rolling hills. Best visited in spring when hills are lush green.

Russian Ridge

5.0 miles
1000 ft
Borel Hill - Hawk - Ancient Oaks
Pleasant walk through green rolling hills amid spring wildflowers.

Brushy Peak

Brushy Peak is a small park in Livermore with green rolling hills and cows in spring.

4.8 miles
1000 ft
Brushy Peak Loop
Pleasant hike over green rolling hills. Cows are allowed to graze here.

Alum Rock

5.7 miles
1300 ft
Boccardo Loop from Youth Science Institute
Nice hike in Alum Rock Park with panoramic valley views.

Cull Canyon

6.5 miles
1300 ft
Cull Canyon to Chabot Staging Area
Pleasant hike through varied terrain, best visited in spring or winter.
8.8 miles
1700 ft
Cull Canyon to Proctor Staging Area
Pleasant hike through varied terrain, best visited in spring or winter.

Five Canyons

8.0 miles
1300 ft
Five Canyons Grand Loop
An awesome walk combining urban areas and green rolling hills, with a side trip to the lake in Don Castro Reservoir.
5.7 miles
1000 ft
Five Canyons Medium Loop
An awesome walk combining urban areas and green rolling hills.

Pearson Arastradero Preserve

5.0 miles
700 ft
Grand Loop in Arastradero
Nice loop through all major trails in Arastradero Preserve, going through forests and green rolling hills.
1.5 miles
250 ft
Redtail Loop in Arastradero
Short loop in the northern section of Arastradero Preserve through green rolling hills.

Foothills Park

Trails through the northern and eastern sections of Foothills Park go through hills. The western section has one prominent trail: Los Trancos Trail, which goes mostly through a shaded forest.

11.4 miles
2000 ft
Los Trancos Trail - Long Loop
Long loop covering all major trails in Foothills Park, going through various micro climates. Los Trancos Trail is the prettiest section of this route.

Skyline Ridge

7.6 miles
1300 ft
Ipiwa - Sunny Jim - Old Page Mill
Pleasant walk through green rolling hills with panoramic valley views.

Sweeney Ridge

9.0 miles
1800 ft
Shelldance Nursery to Milagra Ridge
Panoramic Views of Pacific Ocean and the city of Pacifica as the hike goes through green rolling hills.
4.8 miles
1500 ft
Shelldance Nursery to Skyline College
Panoramic Views of Pacific Ocean and the city of Pacifica as the hike goes through green rolling hills.

Garrapata

4.8 miles
1700 ft
Soberanes Canyon - Rocky Ridge
Awesome hike through a redwood canyon, chaparral filled ridges and views of jagged Big Sur coastline.

San Bruno Mountain

8.3 miles
1500 ft
Summit Loop - Ridge Trail
A pleasant hike along a ridge with nice views along both sides: San Francisco Bay, Pacific Ocean and various towns nearby.

Fifield Cahill Ridge Trail

12.7 miles
1700 ft
Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail
A 13-mile section of Bay Area Ridge Trail that can be hiked only by prior registration with SFWater.

Sycamore Valley

3.2 miles
700 ft
Short Loop in Short Ridge
Pleasant hike amid green rolling hills with panoramic views of residential complexes of Danville.

Pinole Valley

3.7 miles
800 ft
Downer - Sobrante Ridge - Broken Oak
A pleasant walk through forests and ridges with panoramic valley views. Best visited in spring when hills are lush green.
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