Getting outside can be a challenge with work, errands, friends...life.
Penciling in a quick stroll is great for health, but there's something soothing and even luxurious about being able to walk endlessly, to come and go at will, and explore on a whim. Night hikes are ideal for leisurely explorers—with the lack of crowds, no sense of time, and new perspective in the dark, it's a murky wonderland rife with adventure.
Here are the best places to explore via moonlight under a blanket of stars; these are also prime lookouts for the double full moons happening next month.
This one comes as no surprise. The 360-degree panoramic views that draw endless tourists by day are equally stunning after sunset. For a moderate hike, climb the 1,000 feet up to take in expansive sights of the city. // Open until midnight, 501 Twin Peaks Blvd (Twin Peaks), alltrails.com
The Presidio makes for the perfect hiking destination as it's open 24 hours and has multiple trails so you can determine how hard you want your trek to be. Break at one of the various overlooks (Crissy Field, the cemetery, or Fort Point) facing the Pacific to do some stargazing. // Open 24 hours, presidio.gov/trails
Best known for its views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the labyrinth, Land's End is a mecca for beautiful views along the entire path. Stroll through the cypress forest and emerge at the sea. // Seal Rock Dr and El Camino Del Mar (Sea Cliff), nps.gov
Tilden + Grizzly Peak
Trek through Tilden Park's 2,079 acres until closing at 10pm, when you can head over to Grizzly Peak Boulevard to take in stunning views of SF, Berkeley, and the Bay Bridge. There are several lookout points, so if it gets crowded at one or you want a different angle, just drive a few minutes down the road until you find your vantage point of choice. // Tilden is open until 10pm, Grizzly Peak is accessible all night, Old Fish Ranch Rd. (Berkeley), alltrails.com
A photographer's dream, Mt. Tam is brimming with gorgeous hikes and vistas. Traverse oak woodlands, grasslands, redwoods and chaparral, and of course take in views of the GGB. There are even moonlight hikes led by Friends of Mount Tam. // 3801 Panoramic Hwy. (Mill Valley), friendsofmttam.org
Mt. Diablo is just under 4,000 feet tall with fantastic views spanning 200 miles away on a clear day (you can even catch a glimpse of the city). Should you commit to a night hike here, you'll need to spend the night, so this is likely the most adventurous excursion here. There are three campgrounds in the area with multiple sites for each—Juniper is known for its views, while Live Oak is closer to the unique rock formations, and Junction sits in an open woodland area. At sunset, people are kicked out unless you've secured a spot, so be sure to reserve a spot or get there early for first come, first served pickings; it's likely pretty sparse in the winter though, so you can expect to have the grounds to yourself. // Camping check-in 2pm, check-out 12pm, reservations ($30) available at mdia.org, 96 Mitchell Canyon Rd. (Clayton), alltrails.com.