What’s better than a road trip? A road trip with the promise of hiking along the way. With its spectacular landscapes, diverse terrain, and a plethora of outdoor activities, the United States is a hiker’s paradise. From exploring some of the tallest peaks in North America to trekking down stunning coastal trails, there are countless hiking road trips here that can provide an unforgettable experience for any intrepid adventurer. From Oregon’s Pacific Coast to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, these are some of the best road trips in the USA for hikers. So get your car ready and hit the road!

Oregon Loop

Embark on an unforgettable hiking adventure with the Oregon Loop, a road trip perfect for outdoor enthusiasts! The Oregon loop is a popular hiking road trip that takes you from Portland, through the Willamette Valley, and down to the rugged coast of this beautiful state.

Rolling Hills of the Willamette Valley, best road trips in the USA for hikers

Rolling Hills of the Willamette Valley

Set against the backdrop of unspoiled beaches, volcanic mountains, and idyllic valleys, this majestic tour stretches over 1,400 miles of Oregon’s natural beauty. Along the way, hikers can venture onto some of Oregon’s most iconic trails, including the epic Mt Hood, Timberline Trail, or the Three Sisters Loop.

Hikers can also explore stunning coastal trails like the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the Yaquina Head Natural Area, or the world-famous Columbia River Gorge. With stunning views, lush forests, and plenty of wildlife, this hiking road trip is sure to provide a memorable experience.

Arizona Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic natural wonders in the world and it deserves a spot on any hiker’s road trip list.  With its dazzling array of colors and breathtaking views, there’s no better way to explore this iconic landscape than with a hiking road trip through Arizona. From Flagstaff, explore the vast terrain and take in views of the canyon’s red-rock walls, winding rivers, and lush forests.

The Always-Impressive Grand Canyon

The Always-Impressive Grand Canyon

Hikers can explore the many trails that wind through this stunning natural wonder, from easy day hikes to challenging backpacking treks. Popular trails we recommend include the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and the Rim Trail.

The South Rim provides a great introduction to the area, with an array of trails for all levels. For the more adventurous, venture further into the canyon to find even more secluded trails and unique views.  Road-tripping around the Arizona Grand Canyon is sure to have you returning home with some incredible memories.

Yellowstone to Glacier National Park

Double rainbow and Lower Falls from Uncle Tom's Trail, best road trips in the USA for hikers

Double rainbow and Lower Falls from Uncle Tom’s Trail

For the ultimate hiking road trip, embark on a journey from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park. This epic adventure will take you through some of the United States’ most spectacular scenery. Starting in Wyoming, take a scenic drive through the sprawling tundra of Yellowstone National Park and marvel at the geysers, wildlife, and stunning vistas.

From here, cross the border into Montana and drive through the awe-inspiring landscape of Glacier National Park. With over 700 miles of trails and countless opportunities for exploration, hikers can take in views of pristine alpine wilderness, cascading waterfalls, and glacial-carved valleys. Popular trails include the Grinnell Glacier Trail, Highline Trail, and the St Mary’s Lake.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

No matter what trail you choose, hikers are sure to leave with unforgettable memories from this incredible road trip.

Colorado Rocky Mountains

Colorado’s Rocky Mountains provide the perfect getaway for any hiker looking to explore America’s national parks and trails. With over 600 miles of breathtaking scenery, hikers of all skill levels can find a trail that’s just right for them.

Stunning landscape in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

Stunning landscape in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

From Denver, traverse the Rocky Mountains and take in views of snow-capped peaks, shimmering lakes, and jagged canyons. With hundreds of miles of trails, you can spend days exploring the area’s stunning vistas. Popular hikes include the Maroon Bells and Longs Peak, or for a more relaxed experience, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway.

With roads that lead from the state’s high mountain passes through alpine forests, winding rivers and past wildflower-covered meadows, road-tripping around Colorado’s Rocky Mountains will leave visitors with plenty of memories to cherish.

California’s Yosemite National Park to John Muir Trail

For the ultimate hiking road trip, take a journey from Yosemite National Park to John Muir Trail. This spectacular journey will take you through some of California’s most breathtaking landscapes, from the soaring cliffs of Yosemite to the stunning Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Yosemite National Park, best road trips in the USA for hikers

Yosemite National Park

Starting in Yosemite National Park, explore the vast terrain, take in views of towering granite cliffs and trek through ancient forests. Popular trails include Half Dome, Mist Trail, and the John Muir Trail.

From here, venture further into the Sierra Nevada Mountains and explore the majestic wilderness of John Muir Trail. This stunning trail stretches over 200 miles, taking hikers through a variety of stunning landscapes and providing unparalleled views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

This hiking road trip is sure to provide an unforgettable experience and leave you with incredible memories.

The Pacific Northwest Coast

For a road trip full of stunning views and incredible hikes, head to the Pacific Northwest Coast. This stunning region of the United States is home to some of the most scenic landscapes in the world. From sea stacks to emerald forests, there’s plenty of natural beauty to explore and take in on this hiking road trip.

Unique Landscape of the Pacific Northwest

Unique Landscape of the Pacific Northwest

Start in Seattle, Washington and explore the city’s waterfront and famous attractions such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. From here, take a hiking road trip up the coast and explore the stunning natural beauty of Washington’s Olympic National Park. Take in views of pristine lakes, rugged coastlines, and lush forests.

Continue your road trip up the coast and explore Oregon’s stunning landscapes. Popular places to visit in Oregon include the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Mount Hood, and Crater Lake.

No matter which trail you take, you’re sure to leave with incredible memories from your journey along the Pacific Northwest Coast.

The Appalachian Trail

For adventurous hikers looking for an epic road trip, take a journey along the iconic Appalachian Trail. Stretching over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, this legendary trail will take you through some of the United States’ most stunning landscapes.

Appalachian Trail Heading to Double Springs Gap from Clingmans Dome

Appalachian Trail Heading to Double Springs Gap from Clingmans Dome

Starting in Georgia, take a hiking road trip up the eastern seaboard and explore the diverse terrain of the Appalachian Trail. From towering mountain peaks to lush forests, this trail takes hikers through a variety of stunning landscapes and provides unparalleled views of the Appalachian Mountains. Popular places to visit along the Appalachian Trail include Mount Katahdin, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Shenandoah National Park.

The Best Hiking Road Trips in the USA – Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the best road trips in the USA for hikers. No matter which one you choose, these incredible journeys are sure to provide an unforgettable experience and leave you with lasting memories.

Cartagena is well known as Colombia’s premier destination. The city’s lovely colonial atmosphere and historic charm pairs perfectly with the beautiful Caribbean beaches in the nearby islands. There is also a vibrant culture and fun nightlife.

Even being such a well known tourist town, there are some hidden gems in Cartagena that many travelers miss. Here you can learn about some of Cartagena’s hidden gems plus some great lesser-known restaurants and bars.

Visit the City’s Best but Lesser Known Museum

Cartagena’s city walls, one of the few examples of a near complete colonial city wall left anywhere, and well known Castillo San Felipe Fortress are among its most well known landmarks and testaments to the city’s fascinating history.

There is a city historical museum in the Palacio de la Inquisición, which doubles as a museum on the Spanish Inquisition and was, in fact, the home of the inquisition in the colony.

However, you can actually learn more about the city’s history at the lesser-known Museo Naval del Caribe, which is more off the beaten path in Cartagena.

Museo Naval de Caribe - a hidden gem in Cartagena

Museo Naval de Caribe

Here, you’ll find some terrific dioramas of the various attacks on the city like those by Francis Drake and Edward Vernon. They show the day by day events and also give lots of context on the city’s fortifications.

On the second floor of the museum, you can also learn more about Cartagena’s incredibly important role in Colombian independence. Finally, there are some interesting exhibits on Colombia’s modern navy, including its little known role in the Korean War. It’s a great place to learn more about the city’s history and is the best done museum in the city.

Visit the Lesser Known Fortifications in Bocachica

Going to the Naval Museum will give you a better understanding of the geography and how the city’s defenses worked in tandem. If you want to get an even better understanding and see some unique forts, head out to the entrance to the bay at Bocachica on the island of Tierra Bomba.

There are three forts here, two of them rebuilt after Vernon’s destruction of them in 1741. These are the Castillo San Fernando and the Fort San José, which created a crossfire through the narrow entrance to the bay. A third fort, Angel San Rafael was built on a nearby hill to protect the land approaches and prevent a siege of the forts as Vernon had done.

The City Walls of Cartagena

The City Walls of Cartagena

These forts were never attacked, and they have been very well preserved. They are also free to enter.

However, they are a bit difficult to reach. You can get boats to the nearby town from the main port near the Clocktower in Cartagena. The mock pirate boat La Fantastica also offers a tour that stops here, or you could plan for a day pass at the terrific nearby Blue Apple Beach Club and walk over the the forts. To see the inside of San José, you do have to hire a boat to take you across.

Stay at the Lovely Bungalows at IslaBela in the Rosario Islands

The beaches in the city of Cartagena proper are good but tend to be overrun with tourists and vendors. The beautiful Playa Blanca, once a Cartagena hidden gem in its own right, has suffered the same fate in recent years.

That means the best places to go to the beach off the beaten path in Cartagena are in the Rosario Islands. There are some great Rosario Islands resorts and day trips. Lots of people like to rent private boats and head to party spot Cholón, while others like to do a day pass at the popular and fun Bora Bora Beach Club.

Isla Bela in Rosario Islands

IslaBela in Rosario Islands

However, if you’re looking for a bit more relaxed atmosphere, check out IslaBela Eco-Hotel. It’s located on the smaller Isleta island and has one of the best beach areas in the islands.

It also has a small handful of terrific bungalows for staying the night. They are also actually owned by natives of the island who have a profit share with the hotel, meaning they have a fairly sustainable model that also benefits the local islanders more than most of the other hotels in the islands.

Those on a tighter budget may also want to consider Secreto Hostel as a lesser known and more budget friendly place to stay in the islands.

Hang Out at Playa Azul in Town

If you don’t have the time or budget, or you just want some extra beach time at a beach in town, skip the crowded beaches in Bocagrande.

On the north end of town, just past the airport, you’ll find a beach known as Playa Azul. This is just before the larger area known as La Boquilla. While the beach doesn’t compare to those in the islands, its ok and is more off the beaten path in Cartagena, which makes it much less crowded.

Visit the Colombian National Aviary

Located on the island of Barú, not far from Playa Blanca, the Colombian National Aviary, or Aviario Nacional, is definitely a hidden gem in Cartagena. It’s very well done, and has some rare birds, including a harpy eagle and a family of condors.

It’s a bit difficult to get out here on your own, so it’s best to either hire a taxi for the day or to go with a tour. It’s also best to go early before it gets too hot when the birds will be more active.

Visit the Abaco Bookstore

Located in a charming historic building in the heart of Cartagena’s Walled City, the Abaco Bookstore is another unique hidden gem in Cartagena. There are plenty of great books here on Colombia and Cartagena, including a selection in English. They also sell some neat artwork and artisan crafts made by local artists.

Inside the Walled city in Cartagena

Inside the Walled city in Cartagena

You can also enjoy a coffee or drink here. It’s a neat and unique place to at least stop in and browse.

Tour the Mangroves in La Boquilla

North of the Playa Azul is the town of La Boquilla, nestled between the Caribbean and the mangrove swamps. This was a traditional fishing community, and there are some neat tours you can do here that take you out on canoe rides through the mangrove forests that look like little tunnels before opening up to big lagoons.

Some tours also include fishing, drum or dancing lessons, and even cooking lessons. It’s a unique thing to do in Cartagena off the beaten path. You can organize tours here through Ecotours Boquilla.

Sample an Arepa de Huevo from Donde Magola

Trying an arepa de huevo is obligatory in Cartagena. This snack that originates from the Caribbean coast makes for a good breakfast, afternoon snack, late night munchie, or even dinner on the go. It’s more similar to an empanada than a traditional arepa, round and fried to a golden crisp.

You’ll find street stalls all over the Walled City selling the traditional arepa de huevo, filled with ground beef and an egg. However, at Donde Magola, located near the Exito San Diego supermarket just inside the Walled City, you can find all sorts of neat variations. Instead of the ground beef, you can get it with chorizo, chicharrón, or even shrimp.

Get Some Ceviche at La Laguna Azul

Cartagena has plenty of terrific seafood, including ceviche. You’ve probably heard of La Cevichería, made famous after Anthony Bourdain’s visit and a mainstay in recommendations for the best Cartagena restaurants.

Another lesser known place to enjoy some great ceviche in Cartagena is La Laguna Azul. A tiny, unassuming, hole in the wall located at the entrance of the Centro Comercial Getsemaní, there are some terrific and unique takes on ceviche here.

Grab one of the small handful of little outdoor tables and a ice cold beer from the little store next door and enjoy this Cartagena hidden gem that is frequented more by locals than tourists.

Try a Craft Beer at Beer Lovers

Colombia has a growing craft beer scene. While in Bogotá, you’ll find lots of little brew pubs, Cartagena has more limited options.

Street Art in the Getsemani district of Cartagena

Street Art in the Getsemani district of Cartagena

The best place to try some Colombian craft beer in Cartagena is Beer Lovers, which has a solid bar in Getsemaní, a popular area full of neat cafés, bars, and restaurants. You’ll find both beers originating in Colombia and elsewhere here on their rotating taps.

Pretend You’re Jay Gatsby at Prohibition

There are a lot of terrific Cartagena bars and clubs. Perhaps the most unique is Prohibition, located on the bottom floor of Townhouse Boutique Hotel. Their upstairs rooftop bar is actually very popular and has great drinks.

However, the downstairs is a hidden gem in Cartagena and has a neat vibe for enjoying a cocktail or three. Beautiful, 1920s style sofas, frequent live jazz music, and even a burlesque show make it a place unlike anywhere else in Cartagena to enjoy a drink.

Or Salsa with the Locals at Quiebra Canto

If you’re looking for a more traditional Cartagena night out, you’ll probably be thinking of getting your dance on at a salsa club. The famous Café Havana, which Hillary Clinton once visited, is a popular place to do so. However, it tends to be crowded and is expensive.

Another good but lesser-known spot is Quiebra Canto, just a block and a half away. It is located on the 2nd floor directly across from the clocktower and tends to draw more of a local crowd than a tourist one. It’s a neat place to get a slightly more local vibe than many of the other popular nightclubs in town.

Cartagena Hidden Gems Conclusion

Now, you know about 12 hidden gems in Cartagena that are a bit off the tourist-beaten path and make great additions to a visit.

Sydney and its surroundings are home to no shortage of splendid hikes and walks, including many with stunning views, whether of natural scenery or city skylines. When next visiting Sydney, consider adding some of these top hikes with a view near Sydney to your itinerary.

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk with a view of the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk

Much of the harbour foreshore of Sydney is public land, and it’s possible to walk for kilometres along it. Along the way, you’ll marvel at the views of the Sydney skyline, the Harbour Bridge and the sails of the Opera House.

A great spot to start a harbour-side walk is from the recently completed Barangaroo precinct. Just a short walk from Wynyard station and many city centre hotels, head north along the shoreline of grassy Barangaroo Reserve, before cutting past the former wharves at Jones Bay, and then underneath the span of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The walk will become busier as you walk through the Rocks, past the Overseas Passenger Terminal and then to Circular Quay. Loop around past the Opera House (don’t miss checking out the sails up close), to the entrance of the Royal Botanic Garden.

Follow the path along the harbour’s edge of the gardens, around to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. You can then return to the city centre past the new wing of the Art Gallery of NSW.

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, one of the best hikes with a view near Sydney

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

Sydney is home to countless beautiful beaches, with none more famous than Bondi. Bondi Beach is also the start of the very popular Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.

One of the chief attractions of this walk are the views of the many beaches that you pass, where it’s possible to enjoy a dip in the water. Heading south from Bondi, you’ll pass Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly Beaches, before wrapping up at Coogee.

My top recommendation though is to find a spot to lounge on the rocks at Gordons Bay and enjoy a swim or snorkel in the turquoise waters, home to an underwater snorkelling trail.

While only 6km long, this hike has plenty of stairs, not to mention distractions along the way. Ideally allow at least half a day to complete it, stopping for brunch or lunch at one of the many cafes along the way.

Federation Cliff Walk

Federation Cliff Walk, one of the best hikes with a view near Sydney

Federation Cliff Walk

The Bondi to Coogee Walk isn’t the only coastal hike with views in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Another excellent walk is the Federation Cliff Walk, which follows the cliffs north of Bondi Beach, between Dover Heights and Watsons Bay.

The 5 km-long walk officially starts at Raleigh Reserve, but it’s possible to start from the northern side of Bondi Beach, following the signs for the Bondi to Manly Walk (a multi-day venture!) From Dover Heights onwards, the walk weaves between multiple clifftop reserves, sometimes with stretches of street in between.

Unlike the Bondi to Coogee Walk, there are no beaches along this walk. Combined with the lack of shade, it’s better to complete it in the cooler months of the year. During the winter and spring months keep an eye out for whales off the coast – the cliffs provide the perfect vantage point.

Once you reach Watsons Bay, take a stroll through Gap Park, then up to Gap Bluff in the Sydney Harbour National Park. Nearby Camp Cove Beach is a calm harbour beach that is ideal for a cooling swim. Alternatively, enjoy a drink in the beer garden at Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel or dine on seafood at Doyle’s. Then it’s an easy ferry ride back to the city.

Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

Spit Bridge to Manly Walk

The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney doesn’t have a monopoly on scenic view walks in Sydney. Another very popular hike in Sydney is the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk, also known as the Manly Scenic Walkway.

Most hikers start this 10km-long walk at the Spit Bridge, before wrapping up in Manly, whether at the beach or its many pubs and restaurants. The Spit Bridge is an opening bridge that crosses Middle Harbour, connecting Mosman to the Manly Peninsula.

The walk starts relatively easy, following the shoreline past multiple harbour beaches, before it climbs after Clontarf Reserve into Sydney Harbour National Park. It’s surprising how much bushland still remains in this part of Sydney, thanks to the steep terrain.

Along much of the walk, there are beautiful views across Sydney Harbour to its southern shoreline, spotting the Manly ferries go by. Other highlights include the historic Grotto Point Lighthouse and Aboriginal rock engravings. You’ll also pass Reef Bay, a harbour beach only accessible on foot.

Prince Henry Cliff Walk

Prince Henry Cliff Walk, one of the best hikes with a view in the Blue Mountains near Sydney

Prince Henry Cliff Walk

Just west of Sydney are the magnificent Blue Mountains. This World Heritage-listed wilderness area is home to some stunning scenery, not to mention world-class hiking. Some hikes are quite strenuous, but for an easier hike with views near Sydney, hit up the Prince Henry Cliff Walk.

This easy walk stays entirely on top of the cliffs near the mountain town of Katoomba, rather than venturing down into the valleys below. The complete walk from the Katoomba Cascades to Gordon Falls is 7km one-way, but it’s also possible to walk just part of the walk and then retrace your footsteps.

The most popular part of the walk is the western end, in between Echo Point, home to the Three Sisters, and the Cascades. You’re never far from clifftop views and some excellent lookouts. The eastern part of the walk offers up more waterfalls. In total there are over 20 lookouts and three waterfalls along the track.

Giants Staircase Walk

Giants Staircase Walk, one of the best hikes with a view in the Blue Mountains near Sydney

Giants Staircase Walk

If you’d prefer a round-trip hike near the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, one of the most popular options is the Giants Staircase Walk. This hike combines part of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk with the Federal Pass Track. It’s one of the best hikes with a view near Sydney.

The most accessible place to start the walk is at Scenic World or a nearby carpark. Walk along the clifftop to the Katoomba Cascades and the start of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, detouring to the many lookouts, before you arrive at Echo Point. From there it’s a short walk over to the Three Sisters, for an up-close view.

Now for the hard part. The Giants Staircase consists of 998 steps – it’s better to head down than up! At the bottom, turn right onto the Dardenelles Track, which soon joins up with the Federal Pass Track. Follow the signs to the Scenic World Boardwalk.

Once at the Scenic World Boardwalk, you have three options to ascend back up to the top of the cliffs. The easier options are the historic Scenic Railway (the steepest passenger railway in the world) or the more recent Scenic Cableway. Alternatively, the Furber Steps are a tough climb, but they’re free and offer more views along the way!

Wentworth Falls National Pass Walk

Wentworth Falls National Pass Walk

Wentworth Falls National Pass Walk

Katoomba and the Three Sisters aren’t the only highlights of the Blue Mountains National Park. Another popular destination in the park are the Wentworth Falls, a few kilometres to the east.

It’s a short walk from the carpark and picnic area to multiple lookout points and the top of the falls. But for more of an adventure, continue hiking down to the bottom of the main fall and take one of the multiple hiking trails to loop back up to the top for stunning views.

One of the best options is the National Pass. This track follows a narrow terrace in the middle of a long cliff, with spectacular views along much of it. The Federal Pass is longer and more strenuous.

Shortly after Empress Falls, follow the signs to the Queen Victoria Lookout and Conservation Hut. Then continue back along the top of the cliffs along the Overcliff Track and Undercliff Track. The complete loop is just under 5km.

Otford to Burning Palms Walk

Otford to Burning Palms Walk

Otford to Burning Palms Walk

Sydney is completely surrounded by national parks, with beautiful hikes on offer in every direction. If you’d instead prefer to head south of Sydney, the main national park is the Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world and the first in Australia.

This large national park contains a wide variety of hiking trails. One of the most spectacular is the Otford to Burning Palms Walk. This popular hike starts near Otford railway station, or alternatively park at Otford Lookout, on the southern edge of the park.

The hike follows the Coast Track route, passing multiple lookouts peering down at a few small beaches, including the interestingly named Hell Hole. After passing through the Palm Jungle, you’ll eventually reach Burning Palms, a remote beach that is only patrolled on weekends during the summer months.

A popular detour from Burning Palms is along the rock platforms to the south, to the Figure Eight Pool. Just be warned that this should only be attempted at low tide, and during calm seas, with several unfortunate accidents having occurred in recent years.

Return by the route you came, or else it’s possible to continue north and then turn up Burgh Ridge, returning by the Garrawarra Ridge fire trail, which is easier underfoot. Depending on your choices, expect to hike around 12km in total.

If it’s sun-filled days you seek, head to the East Bay. The region is home to California’s Bay Area’s driest microclimate, with a mixed landscape of oak-dotted hills, grassy ridgelines, forested valleys, and rock-studded peaks.

The East Bay Area Regional Park District’s 65 parks and preserves contain a whopping 1,150 miles of trails, nearly a dozen freshwater lakes, 40 miles of shoreline, two islands, and hundreds of acres of undeveloped inland hills and valleys, some of which offer panoramic views over the Bay Area.

Many of the trails in the East Bay Area are off-limits to dogs, due to wildlife considerations, but not to worry, there are still plenty of dog-friendly hikes in the East Bay Area. Some trails even explicitly allow for dogs off the leash. Just be sure to pay attention to posted signs, and always bring bags, so that you can pack your animal’s waste out of the hike.

Bay View Loop

Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, Pinole

Level: Easy, 5 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: Negligible

Easy walking not far from East Bay Area cities leads to close-up bay views and a glimpse at Point Pinole’s varied history.

Point Pinole Regional Shoreline is a little park with a big heart, a place of tranquility not far from the urban bustle of the East Bay. Few visitors other than avid anglers and dog walkers make the trip to the tip of Point Pinole, but those who do are surprised at this small park’s varied offerings. 

In addition to inspiring bay views, a fascinating history, and good pier fishing, the park has volleyball courts, picnic areas, and more than 12 miles of winding dirt trails that offer dog-friendly hikes in the East Bay Area.

Two Trails and Carquinez Strait

Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline, between Crockett and Martinez

Level: Easy, 1-3 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 150 feet

Two appealing trail segments explore the grassland bluffs bordering the narrow waterway between San Pablo and Suisun Bays.

Although San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay are as familiar as the local freeways to most Bay Area residents, the waterway at Carquinez Strait is far less known. Even the name ‘Carquinez Strait’ sounds foreign and exotic.

The northeastern arm of the conglomeration of waterways that constitute the bay and river delta, Carquinez Strait forms the narrow passageway between San Pablo and Suisun Bays. 

The bluffs above Carquinez Strait are a wonderful place for an easy, dog-friendly hike in the East Bay Area. Part of the joy of this walk is watching the ships, large and small, journey in and out of the strait. You might see anything from a windsurfer to a freighter.

San Pablo Ridge and Wildcat Creek Loop

Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, Berkeley

Level: Moderate, 6.8 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet

Enjoy rolling hills, waving grasslands, and wide-angle views of the bay.

Never judge a trail by its trailhead, sage hikers say. When you park your car at Wildcat Canyon Regional Park’s Alvarado staging area, you might think you’re in for a forested hike through eucalyptus and oaks.

But looks are deceiving at Wildcat Canyon. What begins as a tree-shaded paved trail quickly becomes a dirt path through the grasslands that takes you up 1,000 feet for wide views of the San Francisco Bay Area. If you’re looking for a satisfying hike that is also dog-friendly, Wildcat Creek Loop is one of our favorites.

Briones Loop Tour

Briones Regional Park, Martinez

Level: Moderate, 7 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet

This pastoral loop hike in Briones’ less-visited northern section leads past a miniature waterfall, two duck ponds, and miles of cow-populated grasslands.

Briones Regional Park is more than 6,000 acres of grasslands and oaks that were once part of the Rancho San Felipe, a Spanish land grant. In the mid-1800s, this was an important fruit-growing region. Today it’s the grassy home of grazing cows and is frequently visited by hikers, mountain bikers, dog walkers, and horseback riders.

The large expanse of open grasslands is perhaps better suited to bikers and equestrians than to hikers. But on a breezy spring day when the wildflowers are blooming and the grasslands are glowing green, it wouldn’t be hard to wax poetic about the place. 

Stream, Fern, and West Ridge Trail Loop

The inviting dog-friendly trails in Redwood Regional Park in Oakland

Redwood Regional Park, Oakland

Level: Easy/Moderate 4.8 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 700 feet

The East Bay Area’s answer to Muir Woods and Big Basin is the prized redwoods of Redwood Regional Park.

They don’t call this place Redwood Regional Park for nothing. The dark, shaggy-barked trees grow more than 100 feet tall, and their shady canopy covers a vast expanse of the park. A walk among these lofty trees is the perfect antidote to too much time spent in Emeryville office buildings or on East Bay freeways.

Rocky Ridge and Devil’s Hole Loop

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, San Ramon

Level: Moderate, 6.8 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet

A hidden canyon tucked amid burgeoning development offers surprising tranquility and a healthy hill climb.

If you are looking for a dog-friendly hike in the East Bay Area and have some energy to burn, Las Trampas is a great place to tromp around. Quite simply, all trails at Las Trampas go up.

The park is composed of two parallel ridges – rock Ridge and Las Trampas Ridge – bisected by Bollinger Creek. The park road and its many trailheads lie along the creek canyon, which means that no matter where you start hiking, sooner or later you have to climb one of the ridges.

But no matter what, the rewards for doing so are great.

Stewartville and Ridge Trail Loop

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, Antioch

Level: Moderate, 7 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet

Some steep ups and downs lead to an 1860s mining tunnel and big views of the Carquinez Strait.

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve is a strange mix of elements – human history combined with natural history, wild green hills juxtaposed with industrial complexes north of the park, and rare species of plants commingled with nonnative flora planted by settlers in the late 1800s.

The 3,700-acre park has many moods and puts on different faces in changing seasons and weather conditions. Not only is it a great dog-friendly hike in the East Bay Area, but this 7-mile loop also reveals some of its highlights and adds some good exercise to the bargain.

Morgan Territory Loop

Morgan Territory Regional Preserve, between Livermore and Walnut Creek

Level: Moderate, 7 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 1.200 feet

A varied loop in the green hills of Morgan Territory offers expansive views, a walk through oak woodland, and myriad spring wildflowers.

Morgan Territory – even the name sounds wild, like a holdover from the Old West. If you’re wondering whether anything wild could still exist in Contra Costa County, wonder no more. Come to Morgan Territory and rediscover the wild East Bay Area with your canine companion.

Bay View and Red Hill Loop

Coyote Hills Regional Park, Newark

Level: Easy, 4.8 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 200 feet

The home of the Ohlone people for more than 2,000 years, Coyote Hills is now a place to enjoy bay and marsh views and abundant bird sightings.

If you ever have occasion to drive across the Dumbarton Bridge from the South Bay to the East Bay, a few things catch your attention – such as the huge electrical towers that straddle the water and the dismantled, decaying railroad bridge that parallels Dumbarton.

But urban-weary eyes come to rest on the soft green knolls of Coyote Hills Regional Park. Situated on your left as you head east across the bay, the park’s tule marshes, creeks, and acres of grassland hills beckon you to pull off the freeway and explore its dog-friendly trails.

A 1,000-acre patch of open space along the edge of San Francisco Bay Coyote Hills was the homeland of the Ohlone tribe for more than 2,000 years. The Ohlone fished bay waters for food and cut willow branches along the creeks to build their homes.

Today the park is a wildlife sanctuary, both a permanent home and a temporary rest stop for thousands of residents and migratory birds.

Sunol Loop Tour

One of many dog-friendly hikes in the Sunol Regional Wilderness

One of many dog-friendly hikes in the Sunol Regional Wilderness

Sunol Regional Wilderness, near Pleasanton

Level: Strenuous, 7.5 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain. 1,800 feet

Wildflowers abound in the spring and Alameda Creek flows year-round on this scenic loop in the Sunol countryside.

A trip to Sunol is a trip to the country. Unlike many other East Bay parks, Sunol Regional Wilderness isn’t bordered by neighborhoods or major thoroughfares. You can’t reach it any other way than by driving slowly on a narrow, country road.

When you hike the grassy, oak-studded hills of Sunol, all you see are more grassy, oak-studded hills, and an occasional glimpse at the shimmering Calaveras Reservoir. It is protected land that is surrounded by more protected land, and that is what makes it a great place to go hiking in the East Bay Area on dog-friendly trails.

Maguire Peaks Loop

Sunol Regional Wilderness, near Pleasanton

Level: Moderate, 5.5 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 800 feet

Explore the wilder side of Sunol Regional Wilderness on this moderate loop off Welch Creek Road

As you drive south on I-680 near Pleasanton, you can’t help but notice the oddly-shaped Maguire Peaks slanting outward from the round, grassy hills. The two side-by-side peaks aren’t conical, like most peaks, or even rounded. Instead, they’re fin-shaped, like two obtuse triangles. 

Their summits point sideways, then upward. After you spend a little while staring at these odd little mountains, you may find yourself longing to explore them.

Murietta Falls

Del Valle Regional Park and Ohlone Regional Wilderness, near Livermore

Level: Butt-Kicker, 12 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 3,500 feet

Hoping to spot a 100-foot-tall ephemeral waterfall, hikers endure a supremely challenging climb and descent in Ohlone Regional Wilderness.

Everybody loves a waterfall, but do you love waterfalls enough to grunt out a 3,500-foot elevation change? Think it over. If your answer is yes, you’re heading to find adventure in Ohlone Regional Wilderness, culminating in a visit to 100-foot Murietta Falls.

Ohlone Regional Wilderness is one of the Bay Area’s special places. No public roads lead through its nearly 10,000 acres. You have to hike just to reach its boundary, starting either from Sunol Regional Wilderness to the west or Del Valle Regional Park to the north. To be more specific, you have to hike uphill. 

Similarly, Murietta Falls is one of the Bay Area’s most special waterfalls. That’s partly because it’s much taller than other local falls and partly because it’s hard enough to reach that most people never make the trip. 

March is often the best month to see the fall flowing, but it depends on the current year’s rain pattern. One thing to remember, this trail is not suitable for a warm or hot day. It offers very little shade coupled with a ton of climbing. 

From Napa to the South Bay, The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most picturesque regions in the United States. The hilly region sits right next to the Pacific Coast, and with plenty of bays and waterways, it is a hiker’s paradise, with ample opportunities to take in great vistas. If you are looking for the best of the best, read our list of the best hikes near San Francisco with a panoramic view.

Bald Mountain Loop

Where: Sugarloaf Ridge State Park | Napa and Sonoma

Level: Moderate | 6.8 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change 1,500 feet

A climb along serpentine-dotted slopes leads to the grass-covered summit of Bald Mountain, Sonoma County’s answer to Marin’s Mount Tamalpais.

Although the grassy summit of Bald Mountain is the crowning glory of this loop trip in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, each leg of the route bestows its rewards. We recommend taking the most direct path to the summit and then looping back downhill on a series of trails for a roundabout tour of the park’s varied terrain.

Start your trip on Lower Bald Mountain Trail, which meets up with Bald Mountain Trail up to the summit. On the way back down, we recommend connecting Gray Pine Trail, Red Mountain Trail, Headwater Trail, and Vista Trail to return to your car. Along the way, you’ll take in wildflowers, chaparral, and unobstructed panoramic views of the nearby hills and mountains.

Mount St. Helena

Panoramic view over Calistoga from the top of Mount St. Helena

Panoramic view over Calistoga from the top of Mount St. Helena

Where: Robert Louis Stevenson State Park | Napa and Sonoma

Level: Strenuous | 10.6 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change 2,100 feet

Pick a crystal-clear day for this epic trek to the highest summit in the Wine Country, where the vista can expand to more than 100 miles.

Normally a trail that is 80 percent fire road would not interest me in the slightest, but the spectacular view from the top of Mount St. Helena makes the climb on its wide, expose road completely worthwhile. And, unlike other Bay Area peaks bearing world-class vistas, such as Mount Diablo and Mount Tamalpais, Mount St. Helena has no public automobile access to its summit. This is one of the best hikes near San Francisco where the panoramic view must be earned with some effort.

For the best possible trip, pick a cool, clear day in late autumn, winter, or spring. Forget the hot days of summer. Then pack along the finest picnic lunch you can put together, drive to the trailhead and start climbing.

Start at the Stevenson Memorial Trail, which later joins with the Mount St. Helena Fire Road. At the top, take in views of Lake Berryessa and the Sierra Nevadas to the east. To the southeast lies Mount Diablo, and a clear-day panoramic view of Mount Shasta to the north, nearly 200 miles in the distance.

Table Rock

Where: Robert Louis Stevenson State Park | Napa and Sonoma

Level: Moderate | 4.6 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change 1,000 feet

Take a walk on the ‘other side’ of Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, where a single-track trail leads to a rock outcrop with an amazing view.

If you’re not feeling ambitious enough to tackle the 10-mile roundtrip to mighty Mount St. Helena, there’s another worthwhile reason to drive the winding 9 miles on Highway 29 from Calistoga to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. It’s the Table Rock Trail, a much easier hike that offers some of the best panoramic views in the San Francisco Bay Area’s wine country.

A mere 4.6 miles round-trip, with only a moderate amount of up and down, leads you to the craggy summit of Table Rock, a large block of igneous rock with sheer drop-offs on three sides. This moonscape-like rock outcrop with its crags, gullies, and pockmarks is fascinating enough from a geological perspective, but it’s the view from the top – a postcard panorama of the Napa Valley – that you will long remember.

The trailhead lies on Highway 29 directly across from the trailhead for Mount St. Helena. Along the hike you’ll pass through a canopy of tanoaks, madrones, and Douglas firs, with Mount St. Helena visible to the west, looming 2,000 feet above you while green hills and vineyards line the alley below.

Barnabe Peak Loop

Where: Samuel T. Taylor State Park | Marin

Level: Moderate | 6 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change: 1,300 feet

An intimate waterfall, a fern rainforest, and a summit with a big view are found on this loop trail in western Marin County, one of the best hikes near San Francisco with a panoramic view.

Although it is a much older public parkland, Samuel P. Taylor State Park is somewhat overshadowed by its larger and more famous neighbor, Point Reyes National Seashore.

For hikers, that’s a bonus. Even when Samuel P. Taylor’s campground is filled to the limit on summer weekends, it’s rare to find many people on its hiking trails. But that’s just fine with those who know and love the park; they can enjoy a little solitude along with the scenery. The park’s best hike with a panoramic view is a loop trip to Barnabe Peak, a 6-mile trek that leads through a ferny, mossy forest of bay trees, passes by a wet-season waterfall, and then culminates with the summit of Barnabe Peak at 1,466 feet.

The trailhead isn’t at the main Samuel P. Taylor campground entrance; it’s 1 mile west on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, near Devil’s Gulch Horse Camp. Park in the dirt pullout across the road from the camp and then walk up the paved camp road for 100 yards until you reach a trail cutting off to the right along Devil’s Gulch Creek, paralleling the road.

Verna Dunshee Trail and Gardner Lookout

Sunset view from Mount Tamalpais over the San Francisco Bay

Sunset view from Mount Tamalpais over the San Francisco Bay

Where: Mount Tamalpais State Park | Marin

Level: Easy | 1.4 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change: 170 feet

One of the Bay Area’s most famous peaks is circled by an easy loop trail that offers 360-degree panoramic views over San Francisco and the entire Bay.

If it’s a clear day and you’re in the mood to feel on top of the world, head for the summit of Mount Tamalpais and the Verna Dunshee Trail. The trail is short, wheelchair accessible, and stroller-friendly, and features top-notch panoramic views of Marin County, San Francisco, and beyond as it loops around the mountain’s summit.

To add a little challenge to the trip, you can also hike the short but steep path to the tip-top of Mount Tamalpais East Peak, where a closed fire lookout tower allows for an all-in-one-glance panoramic view over the San Francisco Bay Area.

The drive up Mount Tamalpais is part of the adventure. From Pantoll Road upward, the mountainside views are compelling enough that you have to remind yourself to keep your eyes on the pavement. Close attention is essential, because the summit road is narrow and winding, leaving little room for error.

Coastal Trail and Hill 88 Loop

View over the Pacific Ocean from the Coastal Trail

View over the Pacific Ocean from the Coastal Trail

Where: Golden Gate National Recreation Area | Marin

Level: Moderate | 5.5 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change: 1,000 feet

A hike high above the Marin Headlands’ busiest beach leads to an overlook with an unbeatable panoramic coastal view of the San Francisco Bay Area.

At one time, the Coastal Trail at Rodeo Beach was a paved road, but over the years, weather and erosion have taken their toll. The trail has been rebuilt, rerouted, and reworked so many times that today the path is patchwork: part paved road, part dirt road, part single-track, and part wooden stairs.

But its destination remains the same: The Coastal Trail leads from Rodeo Beach to the top of mighty Hill 88 in the Marin Headlands, providing what many consider to be the finest views in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area– a park rife with memorable panoramic views over the San Francisco Bay Area.

North Ridge and Sunset Trail Loop

Located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, Angel Island offers incredible panoramic views

Located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, Angel Island offers incredible panoramic views

Where: Angel Island State Park | Marin

Level: Easy/Moderate | 4.5 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change 780 feet

Visit the summit of Mount Livermore, the highest point on Angel Island, on this view-filled half-day hike. It’s one of the best hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area with a panoramic view.

Do you want to visit Angel Island but can’t bear to hike on the pavement? You don’t like sharing the trail with bikers and want a hikers-only path? No problem. There are two completely different ways to hike Angel Island: One path is on the wide, paved Perimeter Trail, which circumnavigates the island. The other path is the dirt and mostly single-track North Ridge and Sunset Trail Loop, which travels to the island’s highest point, the summit of Mount Livermore.

Wildcat Peak and Laurel Canyon Loop

Where: Tilden Regional Park | East Bay

Level: Easy | 3.5 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change: 500 feet

This easy trail to the panoramic summit of Wildcat Peak makes a perfect leg-stretching hike for a Sunday afternoon.

Most people think of Tilden Park as a place to take the kids. The park has pony rides, a carousel, a miniature train, a swimming beach at Lake Anza, and lots of other diversions that keep children occupied and happy. But over on the northwest edge of the park lies the Tilden Nature Area, a very different part of Tilden Park. Here, the only amenities are trail signs and the only diversions are the natural beauty and the panoramic views over the San Francisco Bay Area.

Mount Diablo Grand Loop

Mount Diablo looming in the background of the San Francisco Bay

Mount Diablo looming in the background of the San Francisco Bay

Where: Mount Diablo State Park | East Bay

Level: Butt-kicker | 10 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change: 2,900 feet

For an unforgettable day, circumnavigate the tallest peak in the East Bay and visit its two neighboring summits, Eagle Peak and North Peak.

Most everybody thinks about making a trip to 3,849-foot Mount Diablo from time to time. After all, you see it from just about everywhere in the Bay Area. It’s not the tallest mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area (Mount Hamilton near San Jose is 360 feet taller), it just has a way of making its presence known, looming in the background of the lives of millions of East Bay residents.

When your time to visit Mount Diablo arrives, make your first stop at the top. Drive to the summit and see what it’s like to look at the greater Bay Area from Mount Diablo rather than vice versa. Park as close to the top as possible and then walk up to the observation deck for a 360-degree vista. On the clearest of days, you can see all the way to the Sierra Nevadas and Mount Lassen. After being thoroughly wowed by the summit view, you are inspired to hike this 10-mile loop around the peak, which adds in two side trips to equally inspiring Eagle Peak and North Peak. The route includes substantial ups and downs, but you are rewarded with sweeping views and a variety of mountain flora.

Mission Peak

Where: Mission Peak Regional Preserve | East Bay

Level: Strenuous | 6.6 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change: 2,000 feet

A challenging hike to a popular summit near Fremont, where hang gliders soar past at eye level.

The grassy slopes of 2,517-foot Mission Peak are a requisite hike for outdoor lovers in Alameda County. On any sunny weekend day with good visibility, hundreds of East and South Bay residents make the pilgrimage to Mission Peaks’ summit.

At the top, they enjoy first-rate panoramic views of the South Bay, the northern Santa Cruz Mountains, the Peninsula, San Francisco, and even the summits of the Sierra Nevadas. Along the way, they are entertained by colorful hang gliders and paragliders taking off from Mission Peak’s slopes and then soaring with the thermals high overhead.

The trail to Mission Peak is a wide, exposed fire road, so be sure to wear your sunscreen. Also, forget hiking on hot days. Some of the grades are quite steep, and with its shadeless slopes, the peak can bake in summer.

Although the trail has a reputation for being a butt-kicker, it’s only 3.3 miles to the summit from the main Fremont trailhead, and even children can make the trip in cool weather. Just remember to bring along plenty of water and snacks and take your time.

Montara Mountain Summit

Where: McNee Ranch State Park and Montara State Beach | Peninsula and South Bay

Level: Strenuous | 7.4 miles roundtrip | Elevation Change: 2,200 feet

On a clear day, this coastal mountain offers sweeping bay-to-ocean panoramic views, taking in everything from Mount Diablo to the shoreline from San Francisco to Pescadero.

There are two routes to Montara Mountain’s summit. The dog-friendly route and the no-dogs-allowed route. Both trails yield good hiking, and the summit vista is sublime no matter how you get there.

The no-dogs-allowed trail begins in Pacifica’s San Pedro Valley County Park and is the preferred choice for hikers who love single-track. You won’t encounter any mountain bikers on this path (except in the last 1.1 miles to the summit. where the two trails join), but you can’t bring your dog, either.

The dog-friendly hiking route begins in McNee Ranch, a unit of Montara State Beach on Highway 1 just north of Montara. It’s an old paved road that transitions into a dirt fire road as it climbs the mountain, and it is open to hikers, bikers, equestrians, and dogs.

The road/trail serves up expansive coastal panoramic views as it winds up Montara Mountain’s western slope. One advantage of taking this route is that you don’t have to hike all the way to the summit to gain a panoramic vista.

The scenery is good for most of the trip. If you do go all the way, you can take an alternative route back down the mountain, making a semi-loop.