Take A Hike, San Francisco: The Redwoods And The Coastal Cliffs


No San Francisco adventure is complete without some drinking, a little restaurant hopping, at least a day spent exploring outside of city proper. Part of the city’s whole allure is its proximity to vast resources of natural beauty. Why wait over an hour for brunch when you could grab a few nectarines from a local farm stand and picnic amongst the towering redwoods?

Thanks to new car-sharing services like Maven and Turo entering the field along with the old school mainstays, this has never been easier to accomplish. You no longer have to own a car to enjoy west coast road tripping. If you’re staying at a hotel in the city, some services offer a complete door-to-door experience. The hassles are pretty much nonexistent.

If you’re a traveler going the shared/ rented car route, the first order of business is getting the right kind of snacks for your ride. The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market comes alive three times a week in front of the city’s iconic Ferry Building. Not only are there plenty of ready-made breakfast and lunch options, but the area is also one of the most pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in the city and boasts stunning views out to the harbor.

From there, use this guide for a hike-heavy overnight adventure, just outside of the city. The route is peppered with farm stands and ocean viewing areas; so don’t be afraid to pull over for a breath of fresh air. There’s not too much driving to be done — you have time to take the scenic route.

HIKE: Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve (Guerneville, CA)

Driving Distance: 76.7 Miles / 1 Hour 35 Minutes

Charles Thorp

Circling the heart of the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve much of the East Ridge-Pool Loop overlooks the first-growth forest from the two ridges above. But the hike kicks off on the floor of Fife Creek Canyon, where you can feel the scale of these magnificent giant Sequoia sempervirens, the tallest living things on our planet.

The oldest tree in the area is the Colonel Armstrong Tree, estimated at over 1400 years, which is named after the lumberman who decided to preserve the area back in the 1870s.

Hike Length: 5.6 Miles

EAT: Boon Eat + Drink (Guerneville, CA)

Driving Distance: 2.2 Miles / 5 Minutes

There is no better way to celebrate the end of a great hiking day than a hearty-yet-elevated meal. This restaurant prides itself in using local ingredients from Sonoma County farms, as well as only serving wines from the region. They also have their own gardens out back where they grow seasonal ingredients whenever possible.

BASECAMP: Applewood Inn (Guerneville, CA)

Driving Distance: 0.7 Miles / 3 Minutes

Charles Thorp

This charmingly restored Mission-Rivival estate is a historical landmark. Named after the apple trees that surround the grounds, along with local redwoods, the property feels charmingly secluded even though it is just a few minutes drive from town. The pro move is to grab one of the suites, which have Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces for evening relaxing. Stepping outside you may be hit with the pleasant aroma given off by the trees paired with the inn’s herb garden. Their skilled in-house culinary team utilizes the fresh produce for breakfast, which is included in each stay, and a perfect way to kick of the day.

EAT: Cowgirl Creamery (Point Reyes Station, CA)

Driving Distance: 43.3 Miles / 1 Hour 15 Minutes

During the drive expect to see plenty of cows grazing outside your window. So it stands to reason that the area produces plenty of great dairy products. Founded by two friends (literally named Peggy and Sue), this creamery distributes cheeses worldwide thanks to a distribution deal with Whole Foods Markets. The friendly staff will happily let you sample everything they offer no strings attached. Grab a sandwich at their Sidekick Café & Milk Bar before heading out to your next hike.

HIKE: Tomales Point Trail (Point Reyes National Seashore, CA)

Driving Distance: 15.8 Miles / 30 Minutes

View this post on Instagram

They still exist… #tomalespointtrailhead

A post shared by Dana (@imabackpacker) on

Not only does this trail feature breathtaking coastal bluffs, but it also winds through the Tule Elk Preserve on the way to the epic Tomales Point, where the Pacific Ocean meets Bodega Bay. There are two separate free-range herds of elk that roam through the wilderness areas and morning is a particularly pleasant time to catch them.

Everything about this hike is cinematic — from the teeming wildlife to the idyllic little coves and beaches along the narrow peninsula.

STOP: Stinson Beach (Stinson Beach, CA)

Driving Distance: 30.5 Miles / 50 Minutes

Charles Thorp

Take a break from the driving to put your feet in the ocean. This is your last hurrah before getting back into the city. You hit the beach right before you get to the more winding portion of Route 1, so it is a good place to grab a snack and look out to the sea. Try to be there for sunset. You won’t regret it.