5 New Parks and Hiking Trails to Explore in the Bay Area 2021
Palo Alto's 1,400-acre Foothills Park offers miles of trails and Bay Area views. (Benny Villareal Photography)

5 New Parks and Hiking Trails to Explore in the Bay Area 2021


Raise your hand in you hiked your ass off in 2020! Luckily, it's virtually impossible to run out of trails here in the Bay Area.

In fact, a handful of lovely new parks, beaches, and trails have opened in San Francisco, the East Bay, and Silicon Valley in the past year. Lace up your sneakers and get ready to explore some fresh terrain.

Foothills Park, Palo Alto

For more than 50 years, this controversially exclusive green space in Silicon Valley was accessible to Palo Alto residents only. In early January 2021, it opened to the public. Foothills Parks spans 1,400 acres with several miles of trails traversing rugged chaparral, woodlands, fields, and streams. There is even a lake to explore. Wildlife sightings might include deer, coyotes, and bobcats, plus you'll find lovely views of the Bay Area. The nature lover's paradise is currently admitting 750 visitors daily, with plans to welcome up to 1,000 guests per day this spring. // For more information on Foothills Park, visit cityofpaloalto.org/gov.

Quartermaster Reach Marsh, San Francisco

Unveiled in mid-December 2020, the Presidio's Quartermaster Reach Marsh is part of a broader ecological renovation project in our urban national park. The $23 million wetlands restoration includes the brand new Tennessee Hollow Watershed Walk with a network of paths including a pedestrian bridge and a quarter-mile trail section to the Tennessee Hollow Trail, linking the interior part of the Presidio's watershed to Crissy Field and the Bay for the first time. Look out for some 23,000 salt marsh and dune plants of more than 40 different species, intended create an attractive habitat for migrating shorebirds and water animals including the increasingly rare Olympia oysters, the only oyster native to North America's West Coast. // For more information on the Quartermaster Reach Marsh, visit presidio.gov.

Crosstown Trail, San Francisco

Opened on National Trails Day in the summer of 2019, San Francisco's 17-mile Crosstown Trail connects the metro's southeast and northeast green spaces via a rather lengthy diagonal. Beginning at Candlestick Point, the ambitious hike provides a sweeping overview of The City and some of its many parks—think John McClean Park, Glen Canyon Park, Grand View Park, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps—before finishing, appropriately, at Land's End in the Presidio. If you've got about nine hours to kill, you could tackle it in a day, but we recommend breaking it up in chunks and grabbing snacks along the way. // For more information, visit crosstowntrail.org.

East Bay Regional Park District's Bay Trail Expansion, Albany

The 500-mile Bay Trail encompasses nine counties and 47 cities, but in the summer of 2020, the East Bay Regional Parks District unveiled a new mile-long extension, from Gilman Street to Albany Beach west of Golden Gate Fields, that connects Oakland and Richmond via 18 miles of continuous trail. The trail offers breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay to walkers, cyclists, and runners. There's also a new pup-friendly sandy stretch of coastline at Albany Beach toward the northern starting point of the trail. // For more information on the East Bay Regional Park District, visit baytrail.org.

Crane Cove Park, San Francisco

Debuted in the fall of 2020, Crane Cove Park is ideal for simple escapism—a waterfront spot for SoMa residents and workers to enjoy a coffee or take their lunch—and also serves as a launch pad for on-the-water activities including standup paddle boarding, kayaking, and canoeing. Though by no means a hiking experience, the 7-acre enclave in South Beach features stretches of paved walkways that crisscross between urban greenery and offer bird watching opportunities. Crane Cove is part of San Francisco's developing Blue Greenway. // For more information on Crane Cove Park, visit sfport.com

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