Bay Area Peak Hikes - Angel Island - Montara Mountain - Garin Park


Peak Experiences

It's 2008; time to get in peak shape the fun and easy way. Take a hike or three—all with spectacular views along the way—to some of the Bay Area's finest vantage points.

Mount Livermore Angel Island

Heavenly Hike

Sure, you can take the ferry there and enjoy a barbecue, but Angel Island also offers a chance to spread your hiking wings on its very own Mt. Livermore. The peak is spectacular on clear winter days: rising 788 feet above the Pacific, it provides a rare "five-bridge view" of the Golden Gate, Bay, Richmond, San Mateo, and Dumbarton spans. To get to the top, take the gradually graded Sunset Trail from Ayala Cove (2 miles one way). Leave ample time to stop and Bay-gaze on the journey up. When you reach the peak, grab a seat at one of the strategically scattered picnic tables; those snacks you humped up will taste even better in this setting. To return, make a loop out of the hike by descending on the North Ridge Trail to the Perimeter Road.

During winter weekends there are four round-trip ferries from Tiburon (complete schedule). A round-trip ticket is $13.50. Find the Sunset Trail behind the picnic tables and up the fire road from Ayala Cove.

Hike Montara Mountain McNee Ranch

Montara Mettle

Looming like a wilderness lord over the coastal towns of Pacifica and Half Moon Bay, little-visited Montara Mountain offers sweeping ocean views from start to finish. The North Peak Trail climbs along the rugged cliffs around Montara State Beach, gently and gradually for the first couple of miles, then straight up the mountain; the last 2 miles might just give you thigh-burn. But if you can make it to the 1,898-foot peak (7.5 miles round-trip), the view is nothing short of Peninsula panoramic perfection: To the southeast, the Santa Cruz Mountains roll out in layers. Turn to the east and Mt. Diablo rises into view. Down below, the scattered beaches of Half Moon Bay, Gray Whale Cove, and Linda Mar call out. And to the north, Mt. Tam and the San Francisco skyline beckon. It'll make you wish you had wings.

TIP: The trail is open to mountain bikers, but if you're thinking of riding this fire road to the top, be warned: the descent is pretty steep and recent heavy rain has rutted out the trail.

The trailhead is 10 miles north of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1, just south of Devil's Slide and Gray Whale Cove. Look for parking on the east side of the road—there's enough space for about six cars. The trailhead is marked by a sign that says McNee Ranch Montara State Beach. Take either the Gray Whale Cove singletrack trail or wider Old San Pedro Mountain Road—both lead to the North Peak. Montara is dog-friendly. More information.

Topic 2 photo courtesy of Bo Neng

Hike Garin Regional Park near Hayward

Garin Grazing

East Bayers traditionally head to Mt. Diablo for big views; but for a less popular yet still compelling vantage, head to Garin Regional Park and its namesake peak. Just southeast of Hayward, this underused park offers wide views without crazy climbing. Yes, there's some elevation gain, but it's a pleasantly gradual ascent through rolling green hills, grazing cows, and shady creek canyons. Navigate the Vista Peak Loop Trail (3.3 miles round-trip) clockwise and within the first 30 minutes you'll be treated to the sight of the southern San Francisco Bay spreading all the way to the highlands of Sweeney Ridge and the Santa Cruz Mountains. The cows and rain can make this trail messy, so bring a spare pair of shoes to change into after you're done. What would life be without a little messy fun?

To reach the park: From I-880 going south, exit Industrial Parkway and turn left. Go 2 miles and turn right on Mission Blvd. After .25 miles, go left on Garin Ave., which takes you into the park. From the parking lot, follow the paved road (Vista Peak Loop Trail) east through Arroyo Flats. Garin is dog-friendly. More information.

Meet the Founder and Owner of Patagonia

Meet Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia Inc.
Tuesday, January 15, 7:00 p.m.

Patagonia Palo Alto, 525 Alma St., Palo Alto; 650-329-8556.
Light refreshments served. There is no charge for this event.

It's been more than three decades and Yvon Chouinard is still the owner of Patagonia Inc., one of the most successful, progressive, and esteemed outdoor apparel companies in the world. Passionate about adventure, the environment, and his M.B.A. (that's Management By Absence) business model, Yvon will be at Patagonia Palo Alto on January 15 to talk about his life, his company, and his personal philosophy. He'll also sign copies of his memoir, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. Yvon Chouinard climbs, surfs, kayaks, fly-fishes, and donates his erstwhile undies to the environment. He went green before Kermit the Frog was born and plans to make Patagonia a fully recyclable company by 2010. Join us for this special event and meet Yvon in person. See you on January 15 in Palo Alto!

You can pick up a copy of Yvon Chouinard's memoir, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, at any of these Patagonia stores:

Patagonia San Francisco, 770 North Point St., San Francisco; 415-771-2050.
Patagonia Palo Alto, 525 Alma St., Palo Alto; 650-329-8556 (*Special Event Held Here).
Patagonia Outlet Santa Cruz, 415 River St. #C, Santa Cruz; 831-423-1776.

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