Hiking, Biking, Beaching (and Bocce!) in San Francisco Bay Area

Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area was like winning the lottery– all the conveniences of a gorgeous city like restaurants, the Golden Gate Bridge, world class museums, AND it’s always just a hike or bike ride away from gorgeous natural views.

I’ve lived in San Francisco now for 11 months, and here have been some of the outdoor highlights of my new life here:

Castle Rock State Park

Taking in the grand views that are available at Castle Rock State Park.

Menlo School’s Wilderness Club went to Castle Rock State Park for a hike back in March, and I loved it so much that I wanted to bring Shane and our friend Aly hiking here. It’s about an hour and change south of San Francisco and makes a great day hike if you are staying in the city. The trailheads are in Los Gatos.  Photo opportunities abound.

Pinnacles National Park

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View from the trailhead.

Pinnacles National Park is the farthest highlight on this list, about 2.5 hours southeast of San Francisco. It is the newest national park, so I was excited to bring along my national park passport book in order to get another stamp! Pinnacles is a collection of gorgeous rock formations, and you’ll have a lot of great photo ops:

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Posing under a natural arch with Jenica.

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Bring your headlamp to Pinnacles, as you will need it to climb your way through the cave where you must pass through on the trail!

Sausalito

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Shane and I stop our bikes for a view towards the west at the Golden Gate bridge.

After all that hiking you’ll want to cool down with a bike ride. The Golden Gate bridge is a mere ten-minute bike ride away from our apartment by Baker Beach. We crossed the bridge heading up north into Sausalito, and by the time you get thirsty you can grab an Allagash at Bar Bocce. The restaurant is on waterfront property where people keep their boats; you can order inside, and then you can eat your pizza and salad on your beach blanket that you’ve clairvoyantly brought along. Biking home is less fun, as you’re full, tired, and it’s entirely uphill back to the bridge.

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Danielle’s birthday lunch on the water at Bar Bocce in Sausalito.

Tennessee Beach

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A fifteen minute hike from the parking lot just off the 101 in Mill Valley will land you here at Tennessee Beach!

I came to Tennessee Beach in a car. It was a twenty minute drive or so from my apartment. On 101 just north of the Golden Gate, you get off at the Mill Valley exit, and pretty much the road winds around and takes you to a sandy trailhead. You’ll scamper for a bit down a trail of green grass and wildflowers… the surprise at the end requires bathing suit and towel. Naturally, for northern California, it was freezing cold the day I went, albeit sunny.

There’s your list to get you started! Let me know what you think, and I’d love to see your pictures, too! Happy trails!

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2 Comments on “Hiking, Biking, Beaching (and Bocce!) in San Francisco Bay Area”

  1. Dylan Rainwalker July 30, 2013 at 14:10 #

    Great post and simply informative about some of the great hikes around SF! I’m looking to move somewhere on the north-side of the bridge after hiking the 382 mile Oregon Coast Trail in August and can’t wait to explore all over the place!

    • Marisa LaValette July 30, 2013 at 14:43 #

      Hi Dylan,

      Thanks so much for visiting the site! Moving to the Bay Area was the best decision of my life. I hope that your move will be just as fulfilling… send me some recommendations after you move. I hope you have a great hike!

      Marisa

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