Hike Like a Local

Source: Endless views and dificult hiking define the Boulder Canyon Trail, an 8.7-mile classic outside Phoenix.

Scott Jonees


“The Superstitions are my home range. They’re rugged and harsh and beautiful—exactly what hiking in the Sonoran Desert is all about. This is the first place I take out-of-towners.”

• • • • •

San Francisco

In the Bay Area, easy-access trails treat hikers to spectacular coastal walks, big-view summits, primeval redwood forests, and waterfalls—all within a couple hours of town (often less). Best part? Mild temperatures year-round make San Francisco a four-season hiking city.

For more scout picks go to

OUR SCOUT Daniel Markey

OUR SCOUT Paulina Dao

Traverse grassy meadows on Kings Canyon loop in Oakland.



Miles 5.4 (out and back) Drive from town 30 minutes

Stoke your NorCal pride on the most viewtastic trail in an area that’s full of them. The Coastal Trail traces 50-foot ocean bluffs the whole way from Fort Cronkhite (a World War II military post) to Muir Beach (tidepool-filled and dog-friendly), 5 miles away. Head out from Rodeo Beach and climb to Tennessee Point, where a wraparound view stretches all the way to the Farallon Islands. Ready for more? Follow the ocean bluffs northwest, passing social trails that descend into explorable sea caves, and reach Coyote Ridge at mile 2.7. Since you’re on the Pacific side, time your jaunt for sunset. The fog will likely have burned off by then. Trailhead Coastal (Mitchell Road) Info


KINGS CANYON LOOP Valle Vista Staging Area

Miles 6.6 (loop) Drive from town 45 minutes

Some of the East Bay’s finest loop hikes ring reservoirs. And this one, around the San Leandro Reservoir in Moraga, offers a chance to see the shoreline, mountain views, and wildlife just beyond Oakland’s city limits. Grab an EBMUD permit ($3; and tackle the loop clockwise so you do the biggest climb (400 feet) on fresh legs. Stop for lunch at the “halfway” bench with views of the San Leandro Reservoir. On the way back around, descend through meadows and finish along the water where migrating birds, turkeys, and great blue herons ply the shores. Trailhead Valle Vista Info

Falls and woods await on Peters Creek Loop.


PETERS CREEK LOOP Portola Redwoods State Park

Miles 11.5 (loop) Drive from town 1 hour 15 minutes

Skip the crowds at Muir Woods and head to Portola Redwoods State Park, where the trees are just as impressive but the traffic is so low that the visitor center is often unmanned. The Peters Creek Loop takes you deep into the Santa Cruz Mountains on trail that’s overgrown with ferns and, yes, poison oak (wear pants). Set up at Slate Creek Trail Camp (reservations and permits required; $23). At the far corner of the park, you’ll find yourself alone in a grove of redwoods that grows beside a peaceful creek. Trailhead Slate Creek Info

• • • • •

[Daily Tread]

The Batteries to Bluffs Trail in the Presidio is only .7 mile, but hikers can explore old military structures from the 1900s. They look best at sunset when Karl the Fog is hiding.


Grab a big posthike meal at The Monk’s Kettle ( in the Mission. In the East Bay, have a treat at

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from Backpacker

Backpacker2 min read
7. Towers of Power
BITTERROOT NATIONAL FOREST, MT Be grateful for this hike’s short approach—it just means more time to savor the view from the restored fire lookout’s catwalk, where you can spy three different ranges. Hop on the gentle McCart-Johnson Peak Trail, climb
Backpacker2 min read
8. Sweat Equity: Maintaining Trails
Now, I recall this woman’s words while on a trip with my Forest Service trail crew. We’re 5 miles deep in Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness, a district that has a checklist of brush tunnels and downed trees to contend with every year. Loppers and
Backpacker2 min read
Join the Club
THOUGH MOST OF US find it hard to believe, not everyone loves backpacking. In fact, the vast majority of people in the United States don’t plan vacations with the goal of carrying a heavy pack all day, fending off bugs and bad weather, pooping in a c