I’ve been going to the gym regularly for 20 years now. And when I say regularly, I mean 5-7x/week, every week. But this year something strange happened: I burned out. Even a different routine or class hasn’t been motivating. I think part of it is freelancing from home and not being on a schedule, and another part is that I’d just rather be outside. Which brings me to hiking. It has been a really good way to stay in shape, since I stopped running, and see some beautiful scenery at the same time. And it definitely makes me sweat! While it’s not always practical to hit the trail on a weekday, I was surprised to look back over the past 3 months and see how many hikes I’d fit in on the weekends (two of them even out of town). These pics represent most of them, and below are some descriptions of my local favorites.
My Top 5 go-to Bay Area hikes (as of today):
1. Tennessee Valley: This is the area I go to most often because it’s very close to the city and you get amazing views of the ocean. I’ve been hiking here in every type of weather, including light rain and heavy fog, but I prefer the sunny days because of the views. You can walk straight to the beach from the parking and it’ll be a little over 3.5 miles round trip. But I prefer to veer off on Fox Trail to the Coastal Trail for a few extra miles, and a killer hill (which, of course, brings you to the killer views). There are a ton of trails you can take from this area so I never get bored with it.
2. Crissy Field: Probably my most favorite place in the whole world. This is not so much a hike as it is a walk on the beach, but it can be a long one (especially if you walk round trip from your apt in Pacific Hts, or do the whole thing on the sand). From the Yacht Club to Fort Point (at the base of the Golden gate Bridge) and back is about 3.5 miles alone. There is also a set of stairs near the Warming Hut—that’ll get your heart racing, and takes you up into the Presidio, which is an urban forest filled with all sorts of hiking, biking and running trails.
3. Marin Headlands: The trek from Fort Cronkite over the ridge to Tennessee Valley and back gets me in instant shape. It’s about 6.5 miles or so, and full of hills that’ll kick your butt. Breathtaking views, rehabilitating seals, vintage missile launchpads, miles and miles of trails, ocean cliffs, beach … need I say more?
4. Tilden Park: This is a recent favorite, and I hike here mainly because I spend so much time in the East Bay now. Sometimes I get a little frustrated that the trails aren’t marked as well as they could be in the East Bay, and this has sent me walking, and driving, in circles at times. But I’ve settled on the Seaview Trail (pick it up at the parking lot near the Steam Trains) as it’s easy to find, and once again brings some spectacular views of the East Bay.
5. Urban hikes: I love playing tourist in my own city. I think walking through all the different neighborhoods, and exploring on foot, is the best way to get through town. And because San Francisco is so hilly, you cannot avoid a workout, even just running an errand. Ditto for the Berkeley hills. My boyfriend and I often walk from his house in North Berkeley up Marin Avenue (or one of the parallel streets) which rivals any hill I’ve come across in the Headlands! Plus, people’s yards are so over-filled with greenery it almost feels like you’re back in the woods.
Hope this inspires you to mix up your routine, or find a nearby trail in your own neighborhood, for a change of pace.