The Ten Best Short Backpacking Hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area

Backpackers silhouetted in Castle Rock State Park, California
Hikers in Castle Rock State Park, home of the Saratoga Gap and Ridge Trail Loop (Kyle Sparks/Getty)

In Moon Guidebook's new outdoor series, author Ann Marie Brown unveils the 101 absolute best hikes in the San Fran Bay area, and calls out the best trails for any and all level of engagement, from the best bird-watching and the top peak vistas to the best waterfalls and the proper places to catch summer and spring wildflowers.

And, with their kind permission, we bring to you her pick for the best short backpacking trips in the region.

Sky Trail and Woodward Valley Loop, Point Reyes National Seashore
This "sampler" loop hike serves up the best of Point Reyes in one long, rewarding day.

Coast, Fire Lane, and Laguna Loop, Point Reyes National Seashore
A pleasant hike over the coastal hills leads to Santa Maria Beach, where you can choose to spend the night at Coast Camp.

North Ridge and Sunset Trail Loop, Angel Island State Park
Visit the summit of Mount Livermore, the highest point on Angel Island, on this view-filled half-day hike.

Stewartville and Ridge Trail Loop, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve
Some steep ups and downs lead to an 1860s mining tunnel and big views of Carquinez Strait.

Black Mountain and Stevens Creek Loop, Monte Bello Open Space Preserve
Immerse yourself in Skyline Ridge's natural beauty on this meandering loop to the summit of 2,800-foot Black Mountain.

Peters Creek Grove, Portola Redwoods State Park
Plan on a long, rewarding day to hike through some of the most remote lands of San Mateo County and visit the big trees of Peters Creek.

Saratoga Gap and Ridge Trail Loop, Caste Rock State Park
Visit Castle Rock's mammoth sandstone formations and watch rock climbers strut their stuff on this popular loop at one of the South Bay's best parks.

Berry Creek, Sliver, and Golden Falls, Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Ancient redwoods and three glistening waterfalls await hikers on this sylvan hike.

Butano Grand Loop, Butano State Park
This long and varied loop through Butano State Park provides the chance to enjoy some solitude in the Pescadero "backcountry."

Flat Frog, Middle Ridge, and Fish Trail Loop, Henry W. Cole State Park
Whet your appetite for the South Bay's most rugged wilderness area on this varied sampler hike in Henry W. Coe State Park.

From the book Moon 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area by Ann Marie Brown. Excerpted by arrangement with Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2011. For more information, visit .


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