A picnic is good. A picnic where the views are just as delicious as the food? That’s even better.
And the only one way to reach the best picnicking spots? On foot. Don’t worry, not only do we know where to go, we know exactly where to stop for supplies along the way. Work up an appetite on these five picnic hikes in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa.
Mount Tamalpais State Park + Joe's Taco Lounge
The supplies: You’ll need fuel to recharge on this steep hike in Mount Tamalpais State Park (3801 Panoramic Hwy, Mill Valley). A Mexican feast to pack along the way from Joe’s Taco Lounge (382 Miller Ave) should do the trick. This Mill Valley institution has all your favorite tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, plus fun bites like griddled corn cakes and stuffed green chiles. Advance ordering is available.
The hike: On this challenging hike to the east peak of Mt. Tam, you’ll have the whole Bay Area at your feet. Park at the Rock Spring Trailhead—the earlier you arrive, the better luck you’ll have getting a spot. From Rock Spring, keep left at the Old Railroad Grade Fire Road then right onto the (Upper) Fern Creek Trail and continue all the way to the Fire Lookout at the summit of East Peak. The views from the top will make this one a picnic to remember.
Length: 8 miles round trip
Bodega Head + Spud Point Crab Co., Sonoma
(Courtesy of @spencerkeywood)
The supplies: One of Sonoma’s best fish shacks, Spud Point Crab Co. (1910 Westshore Rd, Bodega Bay), is right on the way to Bodega Head in Sonoma Coast State Park (Westshore Rd, Bodega Bay). The hike is short and mostly flat so go ahead and order their famous clam chowder (don’t forget a lid for your to-go container), or stick with more portable options like seafood sandwiches and crab cakes.
The hike: This short hike is all about the views. Follow the Bodega Head Trail along the coastal ridge to one of several benches or the single picnic table along the way. Or hell, go crazy and lay out your blanket anywhere you please. Bodega Bay is beautiful from any angle, especially in winter and late spring when the grey whales are migrating along the coast.
Length: 1.7 mile loop
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park + Wine Country Cafe & Deli, Sonoma
(Courtesy of @sugarloafpark)
The supplies: Hit the Wine Country Cafe & Deli (5855 Sonoma Hwy) on the eastern edge of Santa Rosa before heading on to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (2605 Adobe Canyon Rd, Kenwood). There you can stock up on classic picnicking supplies like deli sandwiches, potato salad, and bread pudding. Advance ordering is available.
The hike: On the Planet Walk, each step you take is equivalent to a million miles of empty space. The trail, a scale model of the solar system, begins in the southeast corner of the observatory parking lot then continues past each planet until reaching its terminus at Pluto about two miles away. Stop at Neptune for your picnic on the way out or back. There you’ll find a shady picnic table with lovely views of the ridge.
Length: 4.4 miles round trip
Point Reyes National Seashore + Inverness Park Market, Marin
(Courtesy of @inkyeagle)
The supplies: Build your alfresco feast at Inverness Park Market (12301 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Inverness Park) before continuing on to Point Reyes National Seashore (1 Bear Valley Rd, Point Reyes Station). They make nearly everything from seasonal organic ingredients including specialty sandwiches, burgers, burritos and tacos, and a variety of salads. Advance ordering is available.
The hike: The Estero Trail passes through pasture and grassland before popping out onto two of Point Reyes’ estuaries, Drakes and Limantour, where the views are world-class. From the Estero trailhead, hike through an enchanting abandoned Christmas tree farm then cross the footbridge at Home Bay. From there, continue onto Drakes Head or turn off onto the slightly shorter Sunset Beach Trail. Stop for your picnic along the way or lay out your spread at the water’s edge.
Length: 7.8 miles round trip to Sunset Beach; 8.8 miles round trip to Drake’s Head
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park + Sam’s General Store, Napa
(Courtesy of @ncrposd)
The Supplies: Stop by Sam’s General Store (109 Wappo Ave, Calistoga) before driving on to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park (4824 Lake County Hwy 4774, Calistoga). There you’ll find elevated picnicking eats (plus beer and wine) including sandwiches on artisan ciabatta, watermelon and spinach salad, and quiche. Advance ordering is available.
The hike: Earn that picnic with a hike along the Palisades Trail, considered to be one of Wie Country’s most scenic. The route, which starts at Highway 29 near Kenwood, is challenging but beautiful, with a lot of ups and downs over volcanic rock formations. From there, take the 2.2 mile Table Rock Trail to Lasky Point, then continue onto the Palisades Trail. It’s another 3.9 miles to Holmes Place. Find a spot to picnic along the way or hike as far as you like then return to Lasky Point or Table Rock to set out your feast.
Length: 4.4 miles round trip to Lasky Point; 12.2 miles round trip to Holm’s Place