Hiking amid giant redwoods is quite an experience. There are over 20 redwood parks near bay area. Each one has nice hiking trails. For trails that meander next to creeks, see Creek Hikes.
Mt Tamalpais is a large well developed park with innumerable trails criss-crossing each other. There are many different kind of trails. In the west, Steep Ravine Trail meanders next to a creek that flows with water for several months after rains. In the east, trails leading to East Peak climb up quickly and offer majestic views of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific. In the south, trails leading to Muir Woods go through cool, dense redwoods. In the north, trails lead to waterfalls like Cataract Falls and lakes like Lake Lagunitas and Bon Tempe Lake. In a nutshell, Mt Tamalpais is a hiker's paradise.
A beautiful route through Mt Tamalpais and Muir Woods that is shaded throughout. Many sections are adjacent to creeks, which are full of water after winter rains.
Big Basin is a popular park with tall old growth redwoods. In Big Basin, the hike to Berry Creek Falls is one of the classic hikes in the bay area. After rains, creeks are flowing and the falls are pretty impressive. At 70 ft, Berry Creek is the tallest waterfall in the bay area.
A long route starting at Waddell Beach in Santa Cruz. The route to Berry Creek Falls is all along Skyline to the Sea Trail, which meanders through redwoods. The return trip goes through trails quite different in character. Howard King Trail is a steep climb through a forest. McAbee Overlook provides pretty good views of Santa Cruz mountains and even the Pacific. Finally, McRary Ridge Trail goes along a ridge.
Short hike through redwoods to a vantage point that offers panoramic valley views.
Cascade Ranch is a small redwood park that adjoins Big Basin Redwoods. There is only one trailhead that is reachable by a 2.4 mile semi-paved road. Hikes through Cascade Ranch are through thick shaded forests.
Maple Falls is a beautiful waterfall inside Forest of Nisene Marks, a redwood forest in Santa Cruz. The last half mile to Maple Falls, beyond Bridge Creek Historic Site, is all along a creek. The trail switches from one side of the creek to the other almost a dozen times. After heavy rains, we have to wade in about 6 to 12 inches of water at some of these crossings. A few spots require scrambling, adding to overall fun!
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is in two sections. The northern section is called Fall Creek Unit. It is less developed and gives a feeling of wilderness. The southern section is much more developed, with picnic areas and many more visitors. Fall Creek Trail goes for 2.5 miles all along Fall Creek. The trail keeps to the edge of the creek at all times. From winter through spring, there is plenty of water in the creek. So any route that includes Fall Creek Trail is pretty awesome.
A beautiful shaded hike through redwood filled trails.
Henry Cowell is a well developed park in Felton, near Santa Cruz. Most trails are shaded by tall trees. An intriguing aspect of Henry Cowell is that trails near the Observation Deck, a high point within the park, are sandy.
A few routes in Henry Cowell Redwoods involve river crossings without bridges. The water level recedes sufficiently by late summer (July — August) that San Lorenzo River may be crossed on foot.
A fantastic hike through cool shaded redwoods that requires four river crossings through knee-deep water. Also goes through Observation Deck, a high point in Henry Cowell. Surprisingly, trails near Observation Deck are sandy!
A hike that goes through the two shallowest river crossings, starting at Park HQ.
Purisima Creek Redwoods
Purisima Creek Redwoods is a popular park in the bay area for hiking amid redwoods. With three different trailheads and trails on either side of Purisima Creek, there are many loops one may form for fantastic hikes. For optimal experience, visit when the creek has a lot of water, which is from late winters to early spring.
Uvas Canyon is a hidden gem in the bay area. It is a gorgeous park in Morgan Hill with cascades of water in two creeks amid thick forest. The best time to visit is February and March, soon after rains. The waterfalls are small sized but quite a spectacle. Trails are shaded throughout and meander next to creeks for several miles.
Nice shaded hike through redwoods. The last two miles are along a paved road with residences.
Los Trancos Trail in Foothills Park is really gorgeous after rains. It goes over 21 wooden bridges at various locations. These are marked as LT1, LT2, LT3 and so on in the trail map. For about a mile, between LT11 and LT13, the trail meanders next to Los Trancos Creek. This is the most beautiful section of the trail.
A pleasant 9-mile route that first climbs up a shaded canyon along a single-track hiking trail, then meanders down a fire road with awesome views of the Big Sur coastline. In between, the route goes along a connector trail that parallels the Pacific.
Joaquin Miller Park is a surprisingly beautiful park right in the middle of Oakland. Palos Colorados Trail is a gorgeous trail that meanders next to Palo Seco Creek. There are other trails next to creeks in Joaquin Miller. Interesting loops may be formed by combining these trails together. Palos Colorados Trail remains cool and shaded even in summers.
Redwood Regional Park is in a surprising location: Oakland. Stream Trail is a three mile long trail that goes all along Redwood Creek. Parallel to Stream Trail are three other trails: East Ridge Trail, Fern Trail and West Ridge Trail. The two ridge trails are fire roads high up along ridges, allowing cyclists. Many sections of these trails are in the open, so avoid them in summers. In constrast, Fern Trail goes through a shaded forest full of redwoods. There are several other trails connecting these four trails with each other. So one may form many different loops. For a loop that includes walking along a creek and going through cool redwood forests, combine Stream Trail and Fern Trail with other trails that connects these two trails.