Mount Tamalpais (Hannah Yoon)

10 Micro-Adventures Around the Bay Area

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Weekend warriors rejoice. Your days of only feeling like your true self on Saturdays and Sundays are over, all thanks to something that's gaining steam in the world of outdoor recreation: the micro-adventure.

The micro-adventure is just what it sounds like, a short, compact, and rejuvenating excursion into the outdoors that only requires a couple hours of your time. Many outdoor enthusiasts have a misconception that the only adventures worth having are the brag-worthy summits, Instagrammable backcountry treks, or grueling feats of endurance.


This mode of thinking just isn't true, however. You can find that same sense of solace and empowerment in nature in a city park in San Francisco that you get from a three-day backpacking trip in the Sierra. It's all about being present and budgeting your time to experience the great outdoors right where you are.

Here are 10 great micro-adventures in or near the Bay Area that will allow you to tap into your weekend self anytime you have a few hours to spare. Next time you feel like waking up a few hours early or need to blow off some steam after work, pull up this list and hit the ground running.

  1. Mount Tamalpais: Located an hour north of San Francisco, this iconic Bay Area hiking spot can get crowded on weekends, which means it's an adventure that's best experienced midweek if you are over the crowds.
  2. Gray Whale Cove: If a mellower trail with wildflowers suits your fancy, Gray Whale Cove is a 2-mile trek to a stunning beach that is located 38 minutes south of the city.
  3. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve: Just about 40 minutes south of San Francisco, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is not only picture-perfect (it's a really popular place to photograph the sunset), it's also a great place to recharge in nature.
  4. Phleger Estate Loop Hike: This 6-mile trail in Golden Gate Park features about 1,000 feet of elevation gain and will get your heart rate up and your blood pumping, especially if you take it at a brisk pace or a run.
  5. Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve: If you are a mountain biker in the Bay Area, chances are you are already familiar with these scenic trails located a little over an hour south of San Francisco.
  6. Ring Mountain Preserve: For a quick hike under 2-miles and about 30 minutes from the city, Ring Mountain Preserve is a dog-friendly hike with great views.
  7. Muir Woods: If you're ready to be wowed by nature, look no further than Muir Woods National Monument, where the tallest tree in the park stands at 248 feet tall. It's located just under an hour away from San Francisco.
  8. Sharp Point Beach at Mori Point: Hike down a steep set of stairs to Sharp Point Beach in Pacifica, located 15 to 20 minutes from the city.
  9. Coastal Trail: While the entire trail is 13 miles from Rodeo Beach to Muir Beach, you definitely don't have to do it all in one go. Many people will walk a few minutes along this trail before or after work.
  10. Lands End Lookout + Sutro Baths: Take a picnic to the lookout to watch the sunset or explore this iconic Northern California spot.
This article was written by Jill Sanford for Outdoor Project.

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