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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.