Sure, hiking is rewarding: the exercise, the fresh air, the peace and quiet. But why not also have a toast to celebrate your hard work? With these five Bay Area hikes, that cold beer or glass of crisp wine is no mirage—they're waiting at the bar just at the end of the trail.
The Hike: Grape Stomp Trail (2.4 mile loop)
The Reward: Bartholomew Park Winery
There's nothing more romantic than a hike that ends at a respected winery. Think Italy. Think France. Think, well, Sonoma. This hike starts and ends at Bartholomew Park Winery—the Grape Stomp trailhead is just to the left of the tasting room. Climb upwards, take in the views of San Pablo Bay, then descend and cross (twice) Arroyo Seco Creek. Stay left on the You-Walk Miwok Trail to the 640-foot summit, and take a nice long inhale, exhale above beautiful Sonoma. Drop down to the Shortcut Trail, following the Arroyo Seco, which will eventually pass through a gate at the rear of Buena Vista Winery. Continue through a second gate to a narrow paved road back to the parking lot.
When you've returned, cross through the parking lot to the Bartholomew Park Winery Tasting Room ($15 tasting fee). Don't miss their Abbot's Passage, a Rhone-style Field Blend of small-lot, co-fermented field blends sourced from throughout Sonoma with a pronounced nose of raspberry and blackberry preserves.
The Hike: Zinfandel Trail (2.9 mile loop)
The Reward: Picchetti Winery
This small Open Space Preserve is home to Picchetti Winery, a century-old complex with its own brood of peacocks. Start your hike along the Zinfandel Trail, from the southern end of the winery's parking lot, shaded by oak and madrone trees. You'll stroll past wild roses, a creek, and small pond. When the trail enters Stevens Creek County Park, you can either turn back or continue another half-mile. On your return, veer onto the Orchard Loop Trail (2.25 miles from your starting point), which will bring you back to the winery.
At the Picchetti Tasting Room, build your own flight of five wines ($15). The place specializes in red wines, so don't miss their signature Red Pavone, a Bordeaux-style cuvee with flavors of dark fruit and chocolate.
The Hike: Dipsea Trail or Sun Trail (1.5 to 4 miles roundtrip, route depending)
The Reward: Nature Friends Tourist Club
For most of us, most of the time, Mt. Tam is nothing more than a beautiful state park. But on a handful of days each year, we can find a magical, storybook adventure at the end of two short Mt. Tam trails.
Both the Dipsea Trail and the Sun Trail will lead you to the famed German Nature Friends Tourist Club Lodge, hidden within Marin's redwood forest since 1917. For an easier trek, start via the Dipsea Trail at the intersection of Panoramic Highway and Bayview Drive; veer right at the Sun Trail and continue on for three-quarters of a mile to the lodge. If you prefer a challenge, start the Dipsea Trail in downtown Mill Valley at Old Mill Park, climb up 688 steps, turn right, then continue up Walsh. At the top of Bayview Drive, cross the Panoramic Highway and look for the Dipsea Trail sign. From here, you'll join your less hardy compatriots on the Sun Trail to the lodge.
At the trail's end, the members-only Tourist Club opens several times a year to non-members, who are invited to come for German-style festivals and guest days. You'll dip into refreshing lagers and traditional foods, and tap your toes to the beat of German music dancing. Check the club's online calendar for guest days (they often add them last minute), or join a Work Day to help with the lodge's upkeep. Hint: Sommerfest is coming up on July 16. Wear your lederhosen!
The Reward: Pelican Inn
Muir Beach and the Pelican Inn just go hand in hand. Though this hike is long and fairly strenuous, it's one for the bucket list, whether it's a foggy day or one bathed in glorious sun. Start from Muir Beach and head south on the Coastal Trail/Pirates Cove Trail towards Tennessee Valley Trail. Traverse up and down the steep hills while the ocean puts on its best show to your right. At the junction, stay left on Tennessee Valley Trail for a half-mile before turning left onto Fox Trail. This trail dead-ends in 1.2 miles; turn right on Coyote Ridge Trail. Keep left onto Green Gulch Trail, and follow along as it winds around back towards Kasai Road and the Pelican Inn.
At the Pelican, a classic British Inn and public house, order a beer or a glass of wine, along with a hearty meal, and enjoy it indoors or out. When you've recharged, follow Kasai Road a quarter-mile back to the Muir Beach parking lot. Or, to make your trip really memorable, stay overnight in the Tudor-inspired hotel.
The Hike: Coastal Trail/Lands End Trail (3.3 miles one way; 6.6 miles round trip)
The Reward: The Cliff House
Winding through windswept Monterey pines above a craggy coastline, the Land's End Trail feels like the edge of the world. Starting at the corner of El Camino del Mar and 34th Avenue next to the Legion of Honor, step onto the trail and continue west to the fork. Make a left onto the Coastal Trail. Cruising along this mostly gently sloping trail (with a few large hills and staircases thrown in for good measure), you'll catch sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge and pass what remains of a railroad that once carried visitors through Land's End to the Sutro Baths in the 1880s.
Keep right on the Lands End Trail at the fork, then continue onto Merrie Way and Point Lobos Avenue. Head right on Point Lobos towards the historic Cliff House, stopping at the Sutro Baths for extra mileage.
The iconic Cliff House has stood here for 150 years. Soak up a classic Ramos Fizz with their famous (free) popovers.