HIKING, the great outdoors
While I would love to have tons of awesome photos for you to get a sneak peak, I am committed to a ‘no technology policy’ when I immerse myself into the great outdoors. This allows me to not only practice on being fully present, but it allows me to give my body space from the radiation being emitted from the phone. This does limit my ability to take fun photos and capture the moments to share, but to me, it is 100% worth it.
I guess you will have to go explore yourself! :)
Bear Valley Trail @ Pt Reyes, app 9 miles round trip. Beginner hike friendly (in my opinion). I honestly don’t even call this a hike. It is essentially flat from beginning to end, making the most difficult part of completion the distance. However, it is a nice relaxing nature walk, and when taking your time very easy for all fitness levels. Just make sure you stretch at the beginning and end ;-) This path goes from Pt. Reyes park out to the coast @ Arch Rock. The trail itself is a descent mix of sunshine and shade. You are walking through the Pt Reyes forest that is filled with lush greens, and soothing sounds of water trickling through a creek. At Arch Rock there is breath taking views of the coast, where you can sit on top of the rock and enjoy your lunch or snacks. Beware that it can often be extremely windy which makes it a bit chilly, so bring layers. If up for a challenge you can actually follow a narrow, and somewhat steep, but short trail down and around, where you will also have to climb over rocks get to get down below the Arch rock onto the beach itself, where you will find several small coves and caves to explore. This is an awesome spot to relax and eat lunch on a windy day, where you are sheltered from the winds. Enjoy a mid day cat nap under the sun and then leisurely head back to base.
Pomo Canyon Trail, app 6 miles round trip. I would consider this hike a moderate hike overall. While there are some short stretches of more intense grade, I feel that overall it is something that can be accomplished with little hiking experience. The round trip distance is nice and short at right around 6 miles, and remember, you can always turn around anytime to shorten it. This hike starts in Bodega Coast line, out toward Goat Rock, and it leads into Pomo Canyon campground, hence why it is an easy trail to shorten the overall trip if needed. The highlight of this hike is everything along the way, and the diversity of the land. You start off at the bottom of a giant farm hill. You hike through farmland, a giant meadow, Redwoods, Forested area, and lush greens. Also, if you pay close attention to all the plants along the way you will find over a dozen cute and assorted small wild flowers. And of course, coordinate the day well, and after your hike you can always walk over to the beach to relax and watch the sunset.
Alamere Falls, app 7 miles round trip. This is another hike that I would consider easy to moderate. The hardest part is honestly the last .4 miles just getting down to the falls. All along the way there is easy terrain with brief moments of moderate terrain.I always thought this would be an awesome trail run. Make sure you follow the signs though @ the fork or you end up on a crazy never ending adventure! Did you even know there was a waterfall in Marin? It is beautiful, and when flowing it has @ least 4 tiers, with a giant drop onto the beach. Another awesome spot to hang out and relax, eat lunch, and listen to the the sounds of both the waves crashing and the water falling all at once. Along the way there are a couple of small lakes, and if you veer off to the left by the larger one you might even find a rope swing. Perfect place to take off your shoes and get wet on a hot day! This hike is off of Palomarin trailhead in Bolinas
Dipsea Trail, app 15 miles round trip. This is a long hike, but it can be shortened. The hike generally starts downtown Mill Valley @ a park, where you are welcomed to the hike with over 600 stairs broken into 3 flights, varying in steepness. The beginning of this hike is very non traditional from what you would typical expect, being that it does start in suburbia, and the stairs are up through the hills with homes. You continue on the trail following Dipsea signs, you might find it momentarily odd again, when you come out of the trees, cross the street, and hike up along the street through another section of homes. When you do research on this hike there is so much hype about the 600 stairs, but what everyone fails to mention is that there are about 1800 in all, making the first 600 not that big of a deal! The hike destination is Stinson Beach, yet another awesome mid point place to kick off your shoes, slip your feet in the sand or the water and catch some good old fashion Vitamin D. What I love most about this hike, is that as apposed to the first half being mostly up, and the second half being mostly down, like most mountain or hill hikes, this hike’s intensity is very similar in both directions. It is a lot of up & down hilly terrain and stairs in each direction making it similar in difficulty. Also, if you just don’t feel up to 15 miles, you can do one of two things. You can start downtown Mill Valley, and turn around when you get to the Muir Woods Trailhead parking lot (this is about a 6 mile round trip hike). Alternatively, you can park @ Muir Woods and just hike from there to Stinson and back (making the total trip about 9 miles). Both are fun and have its advantages. Oh, and one fun fact: Dispea trail is actually the oldest trail race in America, starting in 1905!!
There are honestly sooooooo many amazing places to hike in Sonoma & Marin county - those are just a few of my favorites that I have done time and time again, but the list of options are endless.
Mt. Tam, down in Marin, is a wonderful place to hike, with hundreds of hiking options, from all different starting points, making a wide variation of difficulty and lengths. The views at the top on a clear day are breathtaking - seeing all of Sonoma County, Marin, Oakland, San Francisco, and the bridge.
Armstrong Woods is one of my favorites spots, with the large old Redwoods. It is so easy to just be put into my place there and remember how small we are in this crazy large world, with 300+ foot redwood trees extending far above me creating a large canopy. It is a much more shaded area then other hikes, so I recommend dressing in layers. I particularly always notice how amazing it smells there once you take 50 steps into the forest and inhale a nice deep breath of fresh redwood air. There is lush green vegetation all around the ground as well. It is located in Guerneville.
Annadel is a wonderful place to go for short and sweet hikes, when you want to get into the outdoors but not drive to far, especially if you are already in North Sonoma County. It is also connected to Howarth Park which is great to just relax or picnic with the kids. I feel Annadel also has many great trail running and mountain biking options. For me, it is an absolute "go to" favorite for convenience but also because the lake at the top is so beautiful and peaceful - perfect for a mid hike meditation.
Sugarloaf is yet another amazing local spot where when you get to the top you have outstanding views, even of San Francisco all the way from deep in SE Santa Rosa. This is definitely on the harder side though - so be prepared.
Helen Putnam, just west of downtown Petaluma, also has outstanding views of the countryside and rolling hills. It varies in intensity levels, is awesome for quick, short hikes or longer strolls, and perfect if you are in South Sonoma County and want to stay local.
There are so many more, but I think this is a nice lofty list to get you started on exploring the great Sonoma & Marin county outdoors! If you have another awesome hike, specific, or location that you would like to add, please feel free to leave me details on my contacts page! :)
North Sonoma Mountain is I believe one of the newest parks in Sonoma County - this hike will definitely not disappoint. You go through everything from an open meadow into redwoods, forest, and overlook farm land and vineyards. If you go in the right season you can find over a dozen colored wild flowers.
Taylor Mountain is another awesome "go to" of mine. Two different entrances, East and West trail options - this is open space and if you go during feeding time you will share the trails and land with the cows grazing. No worry - they are friendly and share the space. This trail has everything from very moderate parts to very steep moments of incline. You are rewarded at the top at a vineyard with a 360 degree views. You will also find a historic rock wall near the top of the hike as well.
Anyhow - Like I already said - there are endless wonderful options - take your pick - explore, enjoy the sunshine (natural source of Vitamin D), breath in a healthy dose of fresh air, and move your body... most of all - have fun!