Living in the Bay Area means that our average, everyday views are just as spectacular as some of the best in the world. (We like to think so, anyway.) Here are five of our favorite short hikes with spectacular views along the way.
It takes no time at all to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Beach, and the sunset views that await you at the Muir Beach Overlook make the jaunt worth your while. The overlook is set a mile north of the main beach; park in the nearby lot, walk five minutes, and you're there. So, definitely more view than hike on this one. On a clear day, you'll be able to see miles up and down the coastline and all the way to the Farallon Islands. This overlook also provides a pretty spectacular spot to take in the sunset, but be sure to bring layers; it quickly gets chilly when the sun goes down. Learn more.
Inside Tip: From December through spring, thousands of gray whales migrate from their Arctic feeding grounds down to Baja, California — and they hug the California coastline the entire way. Head to the overlook and there's a good chance you'll see some passing by.
Been talking about doing this one for a while and still haven't made it out to the northwest corner of San Francisco? Bite the bullet and head to Lands End this weekend, where four miles of beautiful, well-maintained trails will give you views of China Beach, Sutro Baths, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The hike isn't strenuous at all, so it's a good place to bring family. Learn more.
Inside Tip: While you're on the Coastal Trail, look for a turnoff to Mile Rock Beach. Follow the signs and you'll find yourself at a large stone labyrinth created by artist Eduardo Aguilera in 2004.
The largest island in the Bay, Angel Island is a short ferry ride away and full of hiking trails and campsites — not to mention spectacular views of San Francisco. Hike the five-mile perimeter loop, which gets you a 360-degree look around the bay and takes you to the top of Mt. Livermore, the highest point on Angel Island. Learn more.
Inside Tip: Enjoying island life? Reserve a campsite and stay overnight to see San Francisco all lit up.
Want the views of Twin Peaks without the crowds of tourists? Then Tank Hill is for you. Tucked away in Cole Valley, Tank Hill is something of a hidden gem — it's hard to find unless you know it's there. Drive to the eastern dead end of Belgrave Avenue and follow the small path up to the 650-foot summit, where you'll get views spanning from the Marin Headlands to the southern end of the East Bay. Learn more.
Inside Tip: There's only one bench up there, but more than enough space to spread out a picnic blanket. Grab supplies at the market on Cole Street and lunch al fresco.
We might have said these were short hikes, but the climb up Mt. Diablo is a bit more than that. At 3,849 feet tall, this is the East Bay's highest peak, and the trail leading up to its summit is 6.8 miles long — which, of course, leaves another 6.8 miles for you on the way down. Bring hiking boots, lots of water, and snacks, and know that your effort will be rewarded with spectacular Bay views once you get to the top. Learn more.
Inside Tip: When you finally make it back to your car, we bet you'll be hungry. Head to Walnut Creek's ØL Beercafe & Bottle Shop, a beer bar conveniently located right next door to a pizza place. Feast away — you deserve it.