What: 32 day hikes.
Where: San Francisco Bay Area.
Distance: about 20 miles each: totaling about 640 miles.
Highlights: a collection of diverse walks throughout the Bay Area; most are within an hour’s drive of San Francisco.
The San Francisco Bay Area is blessed with a vast amount of public land containing a very extensive trail network. The habitat is diverse, the scenery varies from good to stunning, the generally benign climate allows year-round hiking, and some trails are accessible via public transit.
We enjoy taking day hikes as much as we like long distance walking. For us, a great day hike starts at dawn and lasts all day. We average a leisurely pace of about two miles per hour, stopping often to look at birds and plants and so forth. Our optimal day hike distance is about 20 miles; that’s about ten hours of walking plus an hour or two of breaks for lunch and snacks. There are many Bay Area guidebooks describing hundreds of hikes, however nearly all of these guides feature relatively short walks. This collection of routes is designed to provide hikers who are interested in longer walks some options to try.
Over the last 35 years we have taken many hundreds of day hikes in the Bay Area. We had previously walked many of the trails in this guide, but not always on the precise route that is described. To increase the geographic diversity of our offering, in preparation for this article we also walked a few areas we had not visited before in order to test and validate some new routes.
Our criteria for including a route in this guide includes:
- about twenty miles in length
- minimal overlap with adjacent routes
- either a loop with the same start and finish, or an end-to-end hike with reasonable public transit options for returning to the starting point
- hikes without following the same route out and back, although a few walks have short pieces of repetitious walking
- routes that are primarily on maintained paths; there are, though, a few short pieces of easy cross-country walking
- routes that have attractive and diverse scenery, varied habitats, and/or interesting cultural sites
- include Nifty Ninety Peaks when possible; download the list here.
We are always interested in learning about new walks. If you have one that meets the above criteria, please share it with us. We may add your walk to our inventory and if we do, we will credit it to you.
Please note that trail conditions may have changed after publication of this document. Trails are sometimes closed for repairs or are sometimes rerouted. Checking the website of the administrative agency for the parks you plan to visit can provide useful information about current conditions. Parking opportunities and regulations also can change over time.