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Skip the Crowded January Gym Scene: Hike the Best Bay Trails

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Welcome to Racked's Fitness Week: five days of workout coverage, so that you can start your New Year's resolutions off right.


A view from Angel island; photo via Anna Majkowska/Flickr

New Year's resolutions mean insanity at the gym. Lines for machines and packed locker rooms could have you ditching your own resolution in short order. Instead, connect with nature, get some sunshine and socialize with friends and family on these amazing Bay Area trails. We have some of the best hiking in the country, so it was no easy task to pick our favorites. We chose those that offered challenges for both new and experienced hikers, with the most gorgeous views of the Bay Area, and the most interesting flora and fauna. Here's to replenishing that vitamin D!—Debbie Min

NORTH BAY

Mount Tamalpais State Park, Marin County
801 Panoramic Hwy, Mill Valley, California 94941
Distance: 7.3 Miles (Matt Davis-Steep Ravine Loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Best Time To Go: Any, springtime is optimal

With more than 50 miles of hiking trails within Mount Tamalpais State Park that connect to a larger, 200 mile trail system, you will never run out of places to expolore here. If you're stumped on which try first, go for the 7.3 mile loop from Stinson Beach to Pantoll. With a 1,600-foot change in elevation, the moderate hiking trail takes you through a beautiful redwood and oak forest, high grassy slopes, and a steep ravine.

Angel Island State Park, Marin County
Distance: 5 Miles
Difficulty: Easy
Hiking Time: 3 hours
Best Time To Go: Any, springtime is optimal

Angel Island State Park is located on Angel Island, the largest island in the San Francisco Bay. It makes for a perfect day trip since you can only reach the island by boat. Ride the ferry and hike 5 miles to the top of the island to enjoy the gorgeous 360 degree views. It's worth investing your entire day to experience it at least once.

Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County
1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Distance: 7.5 Miles (Coast Trail from Palomarin Trailhead to Alamere Falls)
Difficulty: Moderate
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Best Time To Go: Any, late wintertime is optimal

Point Reyes has several hiking trails made for dayhiking and backpacking. The coast trail from Palomarin Trailhead to Alamere Falls is a 7.5 mile moderate hike with about 600 feet in elevation change. Up to Pelican Lake, the trails are gently graded and easy. If you continue to Alamere Falls, the hike gets trickier with two scrambles, one easy and one rough.

PENINSULA & SOUTH BAY

Castle Rock State Park, Santa Cruz County
15000 Skyline Blvd, Los Gatos, CA 95032
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Hiking Time: 3 hours
Best Time To Go: Any, late wintertime and springtime is optimal

One of the best hikes in the Bay Area, Castle Rock State Park's 5.5 mile loop offers outstanding views from one of the highest points in the Santa Cruz mountains. With about 1,000 feet in elevation, most of the trail is moderate with wild redwood, Douglas fir and madrone woods that dip in to steep canyons.

San Bruno Mountain County Park, San Mateo County
555 Guadalupe Canyon Pkwy, Daly City, CA 94005
Distance: 3.5 Miles (Summit Loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Best Time To Go: Any, springtime is optimal

San Bruno Mountain Park has 12 miles of trails that offer views of the Pacific Ocean, the Central Bay, and the San Francisco skyline. Beginners can hike the 3.5 mile loop to the summit which is filled with lush native vegetation that won't disappoint. With 650 feet in elevation change, the modest hills and well-graded trails are seasonal friendly and an excellent spot to hike with friends.—Debbie Min
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