It’s not supposed to rain today or tomorrow, but who knows what the months ahead will bring weather-wise! One thing for sure, a good hike is a good way to start the New Year and tomorrow looks like a promising day.
As Bay Area hikers know, many of our local trails get deep with mud during a prolonged or heavy rain, but here are three trails that stay relatively dry no matter what the weather: Bear Valley, Nimitz, and Canyon View.
- The Bear Valley Trail, in Point Reyes National Park (Marin County), starts near the park’s Bear Valley Visitor Center. On this 8.8-mile round-trip hike, you are on a broad trail the first 3.2 miles and then on a narrower track the last 1.2 to the trail’s end at Arch Rock Overlook. The overlook, which is on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean, offers outstanding views out to sea and up and down the coast. The first part of your hike is a moderate uphill to the open meadow (restrooms here), then you continue on a moderate downhill.
On the weekends in particular, this is a very popular trail for all ages and you’ll see hikers, trail bikes, and equestrians (Bikes and horses are not allowed on the narrow section; there are racks for securing bikes where this segment begins.). There’s plenty of room for all at the end of the trail where you’ll enjoy sitting on the rocks watching the waves crash below and the pelicans, gulls, ravens, and hawks flying above.
- The Nimitz Way Trail starts at Inspiration Point parking lot), in Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, and is also a broad trail. It’s paved for about four miles. You can continue on when it becomes a dirt trail and hike all the way through Wildcat Canyon Park to the Richmond end. It’s also a popular trail with parents taking small children for first bike rides, dog walkers, couples strolling, and joggers.
The views are usually outstanding—looking across San Francisco Bay to Mount Tamalpais or even past the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands. Occasionally you can find yourself in a blowing fog and you may only be able to see the colorful wildflowers that line the trail seasonally.
Before the Nimitz Way was opened to the public, it led to a Nike missile base. You can climb some of the hills near the end of the paved section and find concrete remains of silo sites.
- Sunol Regional Park, slightly east of the Alameda County town that shares its name, offers a wealth of trails of differing degrees of difficulty. If you are looking for the trail less muddy, take the Canyon View Trail (a wide, gravelly trail) 1.3 miles out to the locked gate. You can return the same way—or if the trails are dry, take the narrow, unpaved Cerro Este and then the McCorkle Trails for a bit of moderate exercise.
Along the Canyon View Trail, you will be walking along Alameda Creek at its best—past Little Yosemite (picnic tables and toilets at this junction) and other splashing sites.
Happy New Year!