Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 21, 2017

Best Bay Area Winter Hikes

Happy Winter Solstice

To celebrate the winter solstice here are lists of recommended winter hikes for the Bay Area. This is an updated and expanded version of the post from last year’s list of Bay Area winter hikes.

Winter hikes for the San Francisco Bay Area
(Click on red links under each heading for more details on listed trails below.)

Bay Area Hiker Winter Hikes:

North Bay:

  • Mount Tamalpais: Cataract Falls
  • Mount Tamalpais State Park: Matt Davis-Steep Ravine Loop
  • Pine Mountain/MMWD: Carson Falls
  • Point Reyes National Seashore: Palomarin to Alamere Falls
  • Robert Louis Stevenson State Park

East Bay:

  • Mission Peak Regional Preserve
  • Mount Diablo State Park: Donner Canyon Waterfall Loop

Peninsula and South Bay:

  • Año Nuevo State Reserve
  • San Pedro Valley Park
  • Uvas Canyon County Park

Weekend Sherpa

  • Cascade Falls – Marin County
  • Castle Rock State Park – Santa Cruz Mountains
  • Vasco Cave – East Bay

In Every Trail:

  • Cataract Creek Trail, Marin Municipal Water District waterfall hike, in the Mount Tamalpais Watershed north of San Francisco
  • Uvas Canyon County Park one-mile Waterfall Loop
  • Murietta Falls 14 miles with 4,000 feet of elevation gain one of the Bay Area’s best strenuous hikes in the East Bay Back Country

In SF Gate: Closer to Home: Bay Area Hills, Valleys and Trails by Heather Jones S.F. Chronicle

paved trails:

  • Bayview Trail or the Alameda Creek Trail in Coyote Hills in Fremont
  • portions of Contra Costa Canal Trail or the Iron Horse Trail

unpaved trails:

  • Hayward Regional Shoreline
  • Cascade Drive in Mill Valley,
  • Cataract Trail and Steep Ravine Trail on Mt. Tamalpais
  • Brooks Creek Trail in San Pedro Valley County Park just outside Pacifica for waterfall trail;  if desire longer hike takfalls trail to the Montara Mountain Trail and into McNee Ranch State Park
  • Fire Interpretive Trail, a 0.7-mile loop around the summit and  Donner Canyon Road fire trail, view of waterfalls at Mt. Diablo
  • Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore

VIA magazine’s article: Off-season Hikes at Pt. Reyes (

  • Chimney Rock views of the sea stacks (rock pillars),elephant seals, California gray whales and waves breaking on the Shore.
  • Tomales Point for tule elk sightings
  • Coast Trail hikes for a beachfront waterfall and views of San Francisco,

Head for the Hills For Winter Hikes in SF Gate on Mt. Tamalpais

  • Matt Davis and Coastal Trails for ocean views on clear days
  • Steep Ravine on Rainy Days

Local Hikes

  • Cataract Falls on Mt. Tamalpais  is a bay area winter favorite. It includes seven cascades, good mushrooms, mosses, and lichens.  Rains only make it better.

Winter marsh hike in the Bay Area lists 12 Mash hikes that are especially good for birding at low tides. see article for more details.

  • Martinez Regional Shoreline
  • Point Pinole Regional Shoreline
  • China Camp State Park
  • Elsie B. Roemer Bird Sanctuary (within Robert Crown Memorial State Beach)
  • San Leandro Bay Regional Shoreline
  • Hayward Regional Shoreline
  • Coyote Hills Regional Park
  • San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, near Dumbarton Bridge, Fremont
  • Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, end of Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto
  • Charleston Slough, end of San Antonio Road, Mountain View
  • Mountain View Shoreline Park, end of Stierlin Road, Mountain View
  • Alviso Slough Trail, Alviso Marina, Alviso

Hiking in California

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