Guidebook

The Best of the Bay Area's Challenging Hikes

Challenge yourself with these worthy trails just outside San Francisco.

Description

California’s highest mountains and wildest wilderness are within a day’s drive of San Francisco, but you don’t even have to go that far for a worthy challenge. A day well spent in the outdoors is one where your hiking time is much longer than your driving time, and when you come home exhausted but exhilarated. That’s easy to accomplish in the Bay Area, thanks to an impressive landscape and cities that maintain convenient access to it. In a short trip from home you can take on miles of rugged coastline, deep pockets of hilly forest, and heaps of rolling ridgelines. Plus, with a cool climate that’s conducive to endurance days for most of the year, there’s little excuse not to push yourself to explore it all. Let this sample of challenging Bay Area hikes inspire you to do just that.

Hidden Valley Trail to Mission Peak
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Hidden Valley Trail to Mission Peak

2 - 3 hrs
9.9 km
644 m
643 m
The most direct route to a panoramic summit over Silicon Valley.
Moderate
Private
Montara Mountain from Gray Whale Cove
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Montara Mountain from Gray Whale Cove

San Francisco
2 - 3 hrs
9.5 km
543 m
543 m
A sea-to-summit hike with panoramic views the entire way.
Moderate
Private
Berry Creek Falls Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Berry Creek Falls Loop

3 - 4 hrs
15.6 km
790 m
790 m
Some of the tallest waterfalls and tallest trees in the Bay Area, all together on this hike.
Difficult
Private
Dipsea Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Dipsea Trail

Marin County
2 - 3 hrs
11.0 km
606 m
636 m
The locally famous trail and race course from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, through redwood forest and offering hilltop coastal views.
Difficult
Private
Steep Ravine - Matt Davis Trail Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Steep Ravine - Matt Davis Trail Loop

Marin County
2 - 3 hrs
10.9 km
534 m
534 m
An excellent bang-for-your-buck loop with a variety of terrain and scenery.
Difficult
Private
Alamere Falls via Palomarin Trailhead
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Alamere Falls via Palomarin Trailhead

Marin County
4 - 5 hrs
21.8 km
607 m
607 m
A waterfall dropping into the sea is the culmination of this wildly scenic, somewhat strenuous, and very popular hike.
Difficult
Private
Mount Diablo Loop from Mitchell Canyon
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Diablo Loop from Mitchell Canyon

5 - 6 hrs
20.8 km
1,154 m
1,153 m
The worthy way to summit Mount Diablo: hiking it bottom to top on remote and super-scenic trails.
Difficult
Private