3 Short Hikes With Beautiful Bay Area Views

By

Who says great views require big hikes?

These three trails in Wine Country, the East Bay, and San Francisco offer spectacular visual rewards without putting too much mileage on your hiking boots.


Wander Mount Wanda in the East Bay 

(Courtesy of Weekend Sherpa)

When John Muir wasn't trekking the Sierra, he could usually be found hiking near his home in Martinez, at Mount Wanda, which was later named for his daughter. The 325-acre Mount Wanda Nature Preserve gently rises to a high point, 660 feet, with views at almost every turn. Spring wildflowers can come on strong here—shooting star, buttercup, purple owl's clover, mule's ear—you get the colorful picture. At the start of the trail you may hear some traffic noise but it quickly dissipates the farther back you get into the park. Relax under one of the large oaks along the hillsides or at a viewpoint bench.

TIP: Muir fans should visit his home next door to the preserve, now a National Historic Site. The Victorian mansion sits on 9 acres of land with fruit orchards.

Find the full story at Weekend Sherpa.

Hike to a Sunset View Near Sonoma Plaza

(Courtesy of Weekend Sherpa)

It's a common situation: You're in Wine Country, finishing up some tastings, feeling pretty good—now you want to enjoy a sunset. Where to go? The answer is just north of Sonoma's historic plaza where the Overlook Trail is a local favorite.

The one-mile (one-way) hike to reach the "overlook" is a gentle grade among meadows, grasslands, and oak trees. The viewpoint is marked by rock-benches. You'll feel like you slipped in on a secret as you bask in an unexpected vista spanning the town of Sonoma, its Valley, and—on clear evenings—Mount Tam and San Francisco. Arrive about 30 minutes before sunset to enjoy the full effects. And don't be startled by deer; they like the view up here too. Enjoy the moment but don't linger too long—you've still got a return trip. It's a short jaunt down from this Sonoma sun-sation.

Get directions on this hike and more tips on where to wine and dine at Weekend Sherpa.

Bonus: Keep the cinematic scenery going in the heart of Sonoma. Upcoming in March is the town's famous film festival, featuring fun parties, delicious local food and wine, and movie venues within walking distance of the plaza.


Hike to Marshall Beach for a Beautiful View of the Golden Gate

(Courtesy of Weekend Sherpa)

Everyone has a favorite view of the Golden Gate Bridge. For a tucked-away favorite usually less crowded on a late afternoon in winter, head to San Francisco's Marshall's Beach.

What makes it so good? For starters, you've gotta hike about half-a-mile to get to it, and that includes a lengthy wooden stairway. Locals and tourists alike don't seem to frequent the beach in the late day, toward sunset, which is an absolutely sublime time to be here (pro photographers are onto this too). Second, it's about as close as you can get to the big golden beauty without being directly beneath it. Wooden steps take you down to the beach, a long, wide crescent-shaped swath backed by cliffs and flanked by sea stacks the closer you get toward a close-up of the bridge.

Get the trail and parking details at Weekend Sherpa.

Related Articles