When the treadmill at your local gym isn’t your forte, what better way to get some exercise than to take a hike and enjoy nature? The best things about living in the Bay Area are the spectacular views. If you’re lucky, some great weather as well. Hiking solo, with a friend or with a group, can really bring out the “nature” in everyone. There’s something for every type: a really unique tree, rock formations that amaze, small animals that pop out of bushes looking for something to eat, a peaceful stream or views that are so beautiful, people are silenced with awesome wonder.

Mount Tamalpais
3801 Panoramic Highway
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 388-2070
Mount Tamalpais: Google Maps

Less than 45 minutes away from San Francisco, hiking at Mount Tam, a nickname which hikers have given the mountain, can usually be found sunny and warm when the weather in SF is cold and foggy. There’s a winding road that leads to the top of the mountain and depending on which trail you take, you can either have a breathtaking view of the valley, the city or be amongst tall Redwood trees that surround you. Dog lovers, beware, some trails don’t allow dogs. The ones that do allow, however, require them to be on a leash. Take caution: Mountain lions are a possible sighting.

credit: skylinepark.org

Skyline Wilderness Park
2201 Imola Avenue
Napa, CA 94559-3600
(707) 252-0481
Skyline Wilderness Park: Google Maps

After indulging in the Wine Country, hiking is a sure bet to bring your body back to normal. This park offers heart-pumping uphill slopes and pretty views of Napa. Big, open spaces of grass invite you to chase the wild turkeys that run free here. When you’re tired, rest at the reservoir to cool down, or sit relax in the volunteer-tended garden with fountains and plenty of shade. On the way back, be careful not to step on what the horses have left on the trails.

Lands End Trail
Merrie Way
San Francisco, CA 94121
Lands End Trail: Google Maps

A San Francisco lover’s dream, this hike endlessly allows you to enjoy the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Dog-friendly, you’re sure to meet a plethora of man’s best friends along the way. Depending on which end you start your hike, there’s a paved trail and a beaten dirt trail. Stairs are there to challenge even the most fit person, but not without a bench to rest on or look down at the ocean below. Joggers, hikers, runners and dog walkers all share this trail and accommodates all without rubbing elbows.

Pinnacles National Monument
Highway 146
Paicines, CA
Pinnacles National Monument: Google Maps

Have you ever seen a park so perfect that it belongs on a postcard? This is the park that inspires all. Rock climbers come here to challenge themselves. Caves are explored by the adventurous and loved by ones who take solace from the intense heat of the summer months. A stunning lake rests peacefully at the foot of the Pinnacles, it teases you to jump in. The rock formations that this park was named are erosions of an extinct volcano.

Sunol Regional Wilderness
1895 Geary Road
Sunol, Ca
(510) 544-3249
Sunol Regional Wilderness: Google Maps

Can’t take time to visit Yosemite? Well, take note because Little Yosemite is here at Sunol Regional Park. It has a pretty scenic gorge that is two miles away from the entrance. However hot and tempting as it may be, swimming is not allowed. Go up further and eventually you’ll run into cattle. Yes, you heard right: Cattle. Please don’t bother them, they are wary of you and tend to part as you get closer. Dogs are allowed here, so bring Fido when it’s time for that annual camping trip or if you just want to have a family picnic.

Sharon Bura (credit: Sharon Bura)

San Francisco native, Sharon Bura, is an outdoor explorer who loves to venture into new territory. She also likes to write about her food experiences at different restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find her food reviews on Yelp.com.

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