Summer is in full swing which means getting outside and enjoying the beautiful Silicon Valley scenery! Luckily for us in the Bay Area, we get to enjoy being outdoors year-round, and there are so many options for doing just that. Whether you are wanting an easy walk, looking for beautiful views, or seeking a challenge, there’s a hike for that. See our picks below for just a small sampling of what Silicon Valley and the surrounding area has to offer.
1. Coyote Creek Parkway- San Jose
Located in Hellyer County Park, this path wanders along Coyote Creek and is used for walking, running, biking, and even rollerblading. This out-and-back trail is almost entirely flat and the northern portion is paved, making it a great option for all ages and skill levels. The southern part of this trail is available for equestrian use and Coyote Creek parkway can be accessed by public transportation, an uncommon feature for most trails. Hellyer County Park is located roughly 10 miles south of San Jose, off of Highway 101.
2. Los Gatos Creek Trail- Los Gatos
This mostly paved trail spans 11.2 miles with about 1.2 miles in San Jose and 9.3 miles in Campbell and is used by hikers, runners, and cyclists. Los Gatos Creek Trail passes through a string of parks including Los Gatos Creek Park, Campbell Park and Oak Meadow Park, and can be accessed at many points along its length as well as through any of these parks. Ease of accessibility makes this a great trail for everyone and offers a perfect option for the whole family to get outdoors.
3. Castle Rock Trail- Saratoga
This 5.5 mile loop which includes the Saratoga Gap Trail and Ridge Trail is a very popular destination for beautiful views, forest hiking and even features a waterfall. Castle Rock trail has many sandstone rock formations known as tafoni or “swiss-cheese rock”, the most notable being the formation that gives the trail and Castle Rock State Park their names. Located about 10 miles southwest of Saratoga on Skyline Boulevard, Castle Rock State Park and the trailhead can be accessed by taking CA-9S to Skyline Boulevard. Since this location is so popular, it’s recommended to arrive early, carpool or hike on a weekday to avoid the crowds and ensure there’s available parking.
4. Stephen E. Abbors Trail- Cupertino
This 8.3 mile loop near Cupertino offers a variety of scenery, from lush forests and streams to grassland and wildflowers. Multiple other trails connect to the Stephen Abbors trail, including Coyote Loop and Rogue Valley Trail so this hike can be adjusted to your desired level of challenge. The trailhead is located on the eastern end of the Rancho San Antonio Preserve, about 4 miles west of Cupertino via Stevens Creek Boulevard to Foothill Boulevard. Bring the kids to visit historical Deer Hollow Farm located near the trailhead!
5. Stanford Dish Loop-Stanford
This paved loop near Stanford is one of the most popular easily accessible trails for walkers and runners in the area. Visitors to this trail will get a beautiful 3.8 mile trip through grasslands and wildflowers and be able to spot the large radio telescope after which the trail is named. On clear days, enjoy views of San Francisco, Oakland and the East Bay. There’s very little shade on this path so make sure to bring a hat, sunscreen and water for warm, sunny days. Most visitors access the path via the Stanford Avenue gate at the intersection of Stanford Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard.
6. Mission Peak- Fremont
For hikers looking for a bit of a challenge, Mission Peak in Fremont is not to be missed. 2000 feet of elevation gain in 3 miles make this hike challenging but still very doable and worth it! At the top of Mission Peak itself, enjoy stunning views of the valley and get a photo with the “Mission Peeker” sculpture. It is generally recommended to park at Ohlone College rather than the Stanford Avenue staging area which fills up very early.
7. Skyline-to-Sea Trail- Saratoga
This point-to-point trail starting near Saratoga boasts 25.2 miles and includes two major attractions: Castle Rock and Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Hikers can choose to do sections of the trail or complete it all as a three-day backpacking trip, making this trail a great choose-your-own-adventure hike. Most hikers access the trail from Castle Rock State Park. As with all forest hikes, it’s recommended to bring bug spray, wear pants, and keep a weather eye open for poison ivy.
8. Crystal Springs- Redwood City
Crystal Springs trail is just one of the many trails in Huddart Park near Redwood City and Woodside. This trail meanders through beautiful forest and is perfect for hiking or trail-running but bikes are not permitted. Hike the Crystal Springs trail as an out-and-back or combine it with Dean trail to create a very popular loop. Huddart County Park is accessible via Junipero Serra Highway, about 10 miles west of Palo Alto.
9. Baylands Trail- Palo Alto
The Baylands Trail is a 5 mile out-and-back trail located near Palo Alto and Mountain View, and features views of the Bay and great bird-watching. The trail is hard-pack gravel and almost entirely flat which makes it an excellent choice for walking and running. There is no shade along this trail so make sure to bring extra sun protection. The Baylands Trail is accessible via the 101, about 10 miles east of Palo Alto
10. Hamm’s Gulch- Portola Valley
Located just 3 miles south of Portola Valley, Windy Hill Preserve has several beautiful trails including Hamm’s Gulch Trail and Ridge Trail loop which clock in at 6.8 miles and about 1,400 feet of elevation gain. This dog-friendly trail features wildflowers during spring and early summer. Windy Hill Preserve is most easily accessed via Portola Road.
11. John Brooks Trail- Belmont
Water Dog Lake Open Space is home to several trails just west of Belmont and San Carlos. The preserve is named after the waterdog, a type of Salamander, and features a variety of trails including some that are fairly steep. Enjoy views of the surrounding area as well as sections of trail shaded by scrub oak. To access this park, take Ralston Avenue west from Belmont, turn south onto Hallmark Drive and then north on Wakefield Drive.
12. Sawyer Camp Trail- San Mateo
Located about 4 miles southwest of San Mateo, the Sawyer Camp Trail is 11.3 miles of paved trail perfect for an easy walk, bike or run and is stroller and wheelchair friendly. This trail features beautiful views of Crystal Springs Reservoir as it follows the shoreline and is partially shaded. From San Mateo, take Crystal Springs Road southwest towards the reservoir.