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A Guide to Hiking the Bay Area

March 1, 2018

     Hiking is one of the favorite activities of many SCU students, so I thought it appropriate to compile lists of hikes I’ve completed and hikes I hope to do before graduating. The Bay Area has no shortage of beautiful landscapes that make for great hikes. Hiking is a great activity to enjoy with friends and it’s relatively cheap. Usually I only have to pay for a zipcar or other form of transportation.


Hikes I’ve completed:

Mission Peak

     I’ve completed this hike twice since coming to SCU. It is probably the most strenuous hike I’ve done but it is so worth it! The views from the top are magnificent and if you start early enough you can make it to the top for sunrise. I did this my second time and while it was a little scary hiking in the dark (I forgot a flashlight!) the sunrise was gorgeous. This hike is pretty popular amongst locals and is gaining popularity amongst tourists so expect there to be other hikers and a decent crowd once you reach the peak.

     Distance from campus: 20 minutes

     More info:

Swing Under the Abandoned Pier

     While this one is more of an activity and photo opportunity than a hike I would still highly recommend it! This is possibly one of the coolest things I’ve done here! Someone put up a swing under the first leg of the abandoned pier and when the tide is low you can swing over the ocean. It is a pretty serene experience. Also on the beach there is a waterfall and graffiti wall. The only catch is that it is really difficult to get down to the beach because it is completely surrounded by cliffs. There is a small and very steep path down the cliffside that could be very dangerous so be careful and only do it if you’re confident you can do it safely!

     Distance from campus: 1 hour

     More info:

Stanford Dish

     The Dish is a short and easy hike through rolling hills. Known as the Dish because of the satellite dish at the peak, it is great for a morning walk and follow it up with lunch at the many great restaurants around Stanford, a stroll through Stanford campus, or shopping at the Stanford Mall. I have done this hike twice, once with friends and once with my parents and sister.

     Distance from campus: 25 minutes

     More info:

Muir Woods

     While Muir Woods is farther away than most hikes on my list it is worth the drive. The hike is mostly flat boardwalk, but if you choose you can make it more difficult by going on one of the side paths. The best thing about this hike are the HUGE redwood trees that tower over you on all sides. It is crazy to think about how long they have been around! If you do this hike, make a day out of it by stopping in SF or visiting one of the cute towns on the North side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a very popular hike and there is limited parking so try to find a time when it will be less busy, like early in the morning or on weekdays.

     Distance from campus: 1 ½ hours

     More info:

Alum Rock Park

     Alum Rock Park is a great hike because it used to be a health spa with 27 mineral springs, an indoor swimming pool, tea garden, restaurant, and dance pavilion. Today you can see the remnants of the spa, which make for an interesting hike. I went after a week of heavy rainfall so the river was flowing strong and the greenery was in full bloom. Some of the trails were closed because of landslides when I went, so check online before going if you think some trails may be closed. Apparently there is a waterfall along one of the trails that wasn’t open at the time I visited, so I would love to go back!

     Distance from campus: 25 minutes

     More info:

Castle Rock State Park

     Castle Rock State Park is a MUST! This hike was amazing! It is mostly forested area and lots of cliffside trails which make for beautiful views. There is a waterfall and rock climbing wall. There were a lot of rock climbers when my friends and I visited so we took a break and watched them for a while and enjoyed the views. I 100% recommend doing this hike. There are plenty of trails but I did the Saratoga Gap Trail.

     Distance from campus: 40 minutes

     More info:

Calero Reservoir

     I stumbled upon this hike on accident. My friends and I were trying to do the Uvas Canyon Waterfall Hike but the road that led to it was closed due to rockslides. We had already driven all the way out to the Morgan Hill area so we decided we had to hike somewhere. We came across a road sign for the Calero Reservoir and decided to give it a shot. It turned out to be a beautiful hike! There were lots of boaters in the reservoir and it seemed to be a popular trail for horseback riding. It was not a very strenuous hike making it a great choice for a group of friends just looking to get outdoors.

     Distance from campus: 40 minutes

     More info:

Lands End

     This is a great addition to any visit to SF. While it is on the West side of SF and you’re most likely visiting the downtown and piers on the East, it is easy enough to take an uber here. If you’re up for a longer hike I’d recommend starting at the Sutro Baths and ending at Eagles Point. This way you get to see the Labyrinth, many rock beaches, the Baths, and the Golden Gate Bridge from various angles. The Sutro Baths used to be public pools right on the beach that were extremely popular but now there is just remnants of them.

     Distance from campus: 1 hour

     More info:


Hikes I’d like to do:

  • The Land of Medicine Buddha Loop

  • Uvas Canyon Waterfall Hike

  • Arastradero Preserve Loop

  • Windy Hill Loop

  • Little Yosemite in the Sunol

  • Peters Creek and Long Ridge

  • Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

  • Mori Point

  • Half Moon Bay


     I hope my little guide gives you some ideas for weekend activities and will help get you outdoors and exploring. If you come to SCU, take advantage of the amazing location!


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