The Best Bay Area Hikes

If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you’ll know that I don’t always write about real estate. I like to share my personal hobbies as well. And at least once a year, I like to share a list of some of the best hikes in the Bay Area, for those who are looking for new outdoor adventures like myself!

This time, I’m sharing a 7×7 article that names one unique hike in each Bay Area county. Which lesser-known hikes are your favorites? Let me know in the comments! See the story below (with edits from me, to save space):

Credit: National Park Service

Made up of nine different counties, the Bay Area has a vast and varied landscape endowed with open spaces – and each has a unique set of trails waiting to be explored. We’ve chosen one hike that encapsulates each region’s beauty and charm like no other.

Tennessee Valley Coastal Trail to Pelican Inn (Marin County)

In a county full of spectacular trails, this hike in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area holds its own, with dramatic coastal bluffs and unsurpassed views of the Pacific. Mid-hike, stop for a pint at the Pelican Inn!

Inspiration Point to Wildcat Peak (Alameda County)

Berkeley’s Tilden Regional Park is beloved for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are its giant sequoias and impressive 360-degree views. This easy trail will take you to both.

Sindicich Lagoon Loop (Contra Costa County)

With its rolling hills and deep blue ponds, beautiful Briones Regional Park is pretty as a painting – especially after the rain. On this trail, you’ll hike across emerald (or gold, depending on the season) meadows splashed with colorful wildflowers.

Credit: Napa Valley Register

Skyline Trail (Napa County)

One of the most popular parks in the Napa Valley, Skyline Wilderness is a lovely landscape of sloping hills and sun-dappled oak forest. On the Skyline Trail, you’ll roll through the landscape all the way to Lake Marie, a sapphire jewel nestled between the low peaks.

Lands End Trail (San Francisco)

This quintessential SF hike isn’t just a heart-pumping trail, it’s a journey to some of the west side’s most interesting landmarks and viewpoints. The Lands End Trail lop itself is a gorgeous three-mile route through the Presidio and along the coast.

o Nuevo Point Trail (San Mateo County)

This trail along one of San Mateo’s most dramatic coastlines is part hike, part wildlife safari. Año Nuevo State Park is famous for its winter residents, the elephant seals who come ashore to mate and raise their young. But the beach is an ideal spot for catching sight of whales and sea birds all year-round.

Mount Umunhum Summit Trail (Santa Clara County)

This moderately challenging hike sweeps you up through the Santa Cruz Mountains to the eight-story radar tower at the summit of Mount Umunhum. You’ll steadily climb through oak and manzanita scrub before opening up to views that ripple from the Sierra Azul all the way to San Francisco.

Credit: SFGate

North Ridge to Saddle Trail Loop (Solano County)

Hike with a herd at Solano County’s Lynch Canyon Open Space. The classic Northern California landscape, with its rolling meadows and groves of buckeye and oak, is also the home of curious cattle who will keep an eye on your progress.

Goodspeed-Natkemper Trail to Hood Mountain (Sonoma County)

The Mayacamas, the lovely, low mountain range that borders the Sonoma Valley, boast some of the best hiking in the country. On the Goodspeed-Natkemper Trail, you’ll travel more than 2,000 feet up Hood Mountain!

An Open Space Restoration Wonderland

The Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation (WSOSF) has completely transformed an area of open space at the foothills of Mt. Diablo in Walnut Creek. The Fossil Hill Native Plant Restoration Project started about 10 years ago by eradicating aggressive Black Mustard plants and other non-native flowers, plants, grasses, and weeds and replacing them with millions of native flower seeds and grasses. You can learn more and volunteer at this link.

Phil Johnson, a retired construction landscaper, is leading the efforts and has been working on this since 1991 when WCOSF began its oak planting project. To date, more than 1 million seeds of native flowers have been planted and the results are absolutely stunning. However, he told me that he would be interested in having more regular volunteers and doing more ongoing education via schools and kids’ organizations.

Take a look at a few of these photos below. The Open Space was already a beautiful natural feature of our town that we are lucky to have, but this just makes things even better! In addition to the Poppy, there are Baby Blue Eyes and Tidy Tips. If you would like to know more about the location, give me a call or email me at To donate or volunteer, please go to

Best Bay Area Hikes

If there’s one thing the Bay Area isn’t hurting for, it’s great hiking spots. I love to get out there and explore new hikes when the weather is especially nice. And 7×7 published a great list of the 12 must-do hikes around the Bay Area earlier this year. I picked my five favorites from the article to share here!

The Presidio, Inspiration Point to the Presidio Tunnel Tops (approx. 4-mile loop)

This hike ends at the new Presidio park in San Francisco which is absolutely stunning. It just opened up this summer, so it might still be popular (and crowded). But if you start at Inspiration Point and follow the Bay Ridge Trail, you’ll end up right at that new park!

Mount Diablo State Park, Twin Peaks Mitchell Rock Loop (4.9-mile loop)

For those of you, like me, who live in the East Bay, you’re probably familiar with Mt. Diablo’s great hiking. As the 7×7 article reads, “The views from the summit of the East Bay’s Mount Diablo are stunning at any time of year, but in late September and October you’ll want to keep close watch on the trail. It’s there that, in the early fall, the mountain’s randy tarantulas emerge with their eight eyes set on love.” It’s kind of creepy, but I’ve seen the tarantula brigade myself and it’s a crazy sight! Oh, and the hike is wonderful in its own right!

Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve, McGuire Peaks Trail (5.9-mile loop)

Sunol has some lovely wildflowers during the spring and the hike through them on McGuire Peaks Trail is well worth the effort (even now, when we aren’t in flower-bloomin’ season). Warning: this can be a difficult hike at times!

Point Reyes National Seashore, Tomales Point Trail (9.7 miles out and back)

Everyone knows about – and loves Point Reyes. You can’t beat the views on the Tomales Point Trail, especially on a clear day (but the fog is beautiful too!). According to the 7×7 article, 94% of gray whales pass within a mile of Point Reyes between December and February – so if you go during that time, bring some whale-watching goggles!

Mount Tamalpais State Park, Matt Davis-Steep Ravine Loop (6.4-mile loop)

I may have saved the best for last! Mt. Tam has some of the most breathtaking hiking routes in the state – maybe in the country. This loop begins in the lovely little beach town of Stinson Beach, takes you through large forests which open to expansive ocean views, and even throws in a few waterfalls for good measure.

Mt. Diablo’s 100th Birthday!

Did you know 2021 is Mt. Diablo’s 100th birthday? In 1921, it was just a few hundred acres of land you could reach by private toll round. Now, in 2021, it has grown into the 20,000-acre park we all get to enjoy today!

For thousands of years, the caretakers of the land were Native Americans who considered Mt. Diablo a sacred place. Of course, there were gold seekers and ranch owners who eventually forced Native Americans from the land but we are lucky that the park we have today is preserved and protected from development.

A few months ago, my son was visiting from the East Coast with his girlfriend and he wanted to show her where he grew up. We decided to head to Rock City to see the wind caves and the sentinel. Surprisingly, I had never been there before. After a few hours of hiking and adventures of rock climbing, we took a drive to the summit for 360-degree views of the Bay, Marin, and the Valley.

It was still a bit hazy with some leftover fire smoke, but you could see the tower of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance and the Salesforce Tower in downtown San Francisco. I had forgotten there was a beacon atop the Mt. Diablo tower to navigate night planes before electronic navigation. It now only lights up once a year, in remembrance of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. What a fascinating tidbit – keep your eyes peeled for the blinking light this December!

One other bonus of the fall atop Mt. Diablo is that October is mating season for tarantulas. Over the years, I’ve seen several tarantulas while hiking through Shell Ridge, but the Park Ranger said they seem to congregate at the Mitchell Canyon entrance area in Clayton. He also mentioned that mornings and evenings are the best time to see them. It’s quite a sight, but not for the arachnophobes out there.

All in all, we are lucky to live in such a gorgeous place, under the shadow of an amazing peak like Mt. Diablo. Here’s to 100 more years of exploring it!

Fun Things To Do In Tahoe

Summer is nearly upon us (and if last week’s weather is any indication, it’s here early!). We’re blessed to live in a place with outdoor opportunities aplenty, and one of my favorite places in the world to visit is the Reno-Tahoe area. There are so many great things to do there, including what 7×7 lists here.

I had a few items to change and add, so here are my two cents:

  1. Play Disc Golf at Tahoe Vista Disc Golf Course – very high rankings and a very tough course (I personally know!)
  2. See Shakespeare in Sand Harbor – always a treat; it doesn’t get much better than theater under the stars with a glass of wine
  3. Hike the Flume Trail (then hike or ride to Marlet Lake and back) – you can also start at Spooner Lake, hike down, and, in the summer take a van back (or just get two cars and park one at the old Bonanza parking lot, which is now the entrance to the Flume Trail)
  4. Rent paddleboards at San Harbor boat dock
  5. Take the trail from Emerald Bay to DL Bliss State Park
  6. See the salmon spawn at Taylor Creek
  7. Hike to Eagle Falls

Among the ideas listed in the 7×7 article, I am interested in their recommendations of getting ice cream at Treats in Nevada City, ordering a Snowmelt cocktail in an igloo at Fumo in Incline Village, and trying an overnight kayaking trip on the Tahoe Water Trail. It sounds like a great road trip and I already know this summer is going to be packed. People are vaccinated and it is hard to book flights and rooms, travel prices are up with the increased demand, so book now if it isn’t already too late.

You really can’t go wrong in Tahoe. The combination of jaw-dropping natural beauty and a lively food, drink, and crafts scene in all of the little towns around the lake are unbeatable. Enjoy your visit!

Where To Go Camping Near The Bay Area

It’s that time of the year when the weather heats up – and so does the desire to get outside! We live in an area where camping opportunities are plentiful. There is no shortage of beautiful campsites near the Bay Area. Here is a 7×7 story about some of the best ones within 100 miles of San Francisco.

orange camping tent near green trees

From the redwoods to the beaches, this list has it all. It even includes a few campsites on our own Mt. Diablo, if you really don’t want to travel far. But it will take you as far as Mt. Tamalpais, or the cliffs of Santa Cruz.

Personally, I prefer going all the way up to Tahoe or down 395 for my camping adventures. But for a quick, local getaway, it’s hard to beat the beauty of the Bay Area. You can pretty much pitch a tent at any campsite around here and be satisfied with the nature surrounding you.

Where is your favorite place to hike in the Bay Area? Comment below and share!

Watching Neowise in style!

I went up to Castle Rock Park in the Open Space the other day to try and catch an evening sighting of the Neowise comet! I decided I had to do it in style, rather than just hike up there to stand around!

So, I brought my dog, Bodie, a picnic, some wine (shh!), and a friend! The views were spectacular as usual with the twilight colors and a dim orange sun reflecting off Mt. Diablo. It was absolutely beautiful. We eventually found Neowise, but needed binoculars to see it, as the light pollution from Martinez refineries didn’t lend the naked eye a view. Though I was hoping for some spectacular images like those posted on Jackson Hole’s Twitter account, it was not meant to be in highly populated Contra Costa County.

Days earlier, I also took a hike in a different direction at Castle Hill Park to Pine Canyon where there is a rock formation where the Peregrine Falcon makes it nest (once an endangered species) and a bench that you can sit on and just take in the scenery and maybe see a falcon flying high above. It is a short walk in, but nice to take it all in and just be outside.

We are lucky to live here!

So, things will be a little weird for at least another month in California. If you’re like me, all this social distancing has started to wear on you both personally and professionally. Luckily, we live in a beautiful place with great weather!

That’s one saving grace – we are still allowed to go on hikes in the Open Space! Recently, I went on one of my favorite Shell Ridge hikes. It goes about 3 miles up a hill and rewards you with great views of the Walnut Creek/680 corridor. You may recognize the spot because it’s where a huge water tower used to be.

To get there, you come in at Marshall, turn left, and then go up and around the side (you used to go straight up the hill, but it’s been blocked off). To get to the highest peak, you backtrack at the top of the ridge. Check out these beautiful views!

I like to sit on the bench up there and take in the incredible landscape below. We really are so lucky to call the Bay Area home, even during a global pandemic. Take advantage of the outdoor opportunities, like this hike, if you can. But make sure your eyes are peeled – it’s rattlesnake season up there!

Road Trips: Aspen

Well, this would be a bit of a haul in a car. But luckily, flights to Colorado aren’t terribly expensive from the Bay Area, and visiting Aspen is well worth the price of admission! I visited recently for BHG’s Top Producer conference and met some agents from all over the United States and got to share in Aspen’s natural beauty!

The conference was at the St. Regis and it was one of the best hotel stays I have had. They left me a handwritten note asking if I would like coffee, tea or hot chocolate delivered to my room. I chose hot chocolate and then they asked if I wanted marshmallows – of course!

The conference held a nice dinner, with music at the T-Lazy-7 Ranch one night and then another was at the hotel with an oxygen bar, and raptor birds. The St. Regis offered free rides in and around town. Not that Aspen is that big, but it was nice to have a ride back from dinner. On Friday, at the end of the conference, it snowed and I was hoping to see the Maroon Bells. The next day was forecasted sun, so I wandered around Aspen and met up with Nina and Chris from Boise and we walked around the John Denver Sanctuary, which was serene and beautiful. Then we had dinner at Matsuhisa, a fabulous sushi restaurant.

On the ride back to the hotel, the driver asked what I was going to do tomorrow. I chimed in with the Maroon Bells, he asked how I was getting there, and I said Uber or Lyft. He looked at me and said he doesn’t think there would be one available so early (7:30 am) nor would there be reception for me to call one to pick me up (welcome to Aspen). He then suggested that the hotel has a partnership with Lexus and they have two vehicles for guests to test drive in 4-hour segments. That was perfect for a trip to the Maroon Bells to get me back in time for my 12:20 flight. I texted Nina if she and Chris wanted a ride and she asked if Sam and Q from Minnesota could come and, thus, our pictures!

BTW, the St. Regis has Kitty the Bernese as their mascot and his Instagram is a hoot! The handler is called a “fur butler.” I want that job for my retirement. Kitty was only there for a day, as the St. Regis was closing for three weeks and Kitty was on a road trip to San Francisco.

Best camping spots near San Francisco

It seems like I’m coming up with one of these blogs every Fall, and rightfully so – it’s a gorgeous time of year to get outside in the Bay Area and have a campfire, pitch a tent, and take in the beautiful nature that surrounds us.

Today, I’m re-visiting this list and pulling out five campsites that I think are worth your time while the weather is still nice. Read below and let me know if I missed any!

Kirby Cove Camp – Golden Gate Recreation Area

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, you can settle into a very private campsite with astonishing waterfront views of the city. Bonuses: You’re walking distance to the beach and a picnic area.

Image result for angel island

East Bay Camp – Angel Island State Park

Angel Island is a quick ferry ride from Pier 41 or from Tiburon. There are 11 sites, and they may be a bit of a hike from your landing, but nowhere else can you get 180-degree views of the East Bay hills or San Francisco.

White Gulch Beach – Tomales Bay

You can’t beat kayaking into a campsite along the shoreline of Tomales Bay. This specific site is protected from the wind as its back in a cove, and you might see a ton of wildlife!

Steep Ravine Campground – Mt. Tamalpais State Park

This is a bit less rugged, considering you can book a rustic cabin here that overlooks the Pacific. There are normal camping options, too, and you’re just steps away from the gorgeous Steep Ravine Trail.

Image result for redwoods

Sempervirens – Big Basin Redwoods State Park

There are few settings more beautiful to camp in than under the redwoods, which tower over this state park. You can pull your car right up to the highway here and enjoy modern sites with picnic tables and fire rings.