Hike Bay Area Peaks - West Point Inn Mt. Tamalpais - Sweeney Ridge - Mt. Diablo


High Times

This year we want to take you higher. So we’re kicking off 2007 with the Weekend Sherpa Trifecta: three Bay Area peaks guaranteed to get your blood pumping and your mind soaring. Happy new year!

West Point Inn Mt. Tam


Our first peak is legendary Mt. Tamalpais. And our tip is: Check out the mountain-side West Point Inn. Back in the day (circa 1910), adventurers often explored the North Bay aboard the Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway (known as the "Crookedest Railroad in the World") and stayed at the famed West Point Inn. Today, the railroad's gone, but from Mill Valley you can still bike the "Old Railroad Grade" 6.7 thigh-burning miles to the inn. (Hikers have other route options, including one as short as 45 minutes: more info.) The West Point's signature old-school charm and friendly service welcome hikers, bikers, and campers, even if you're just stopping by for an hour. But take our advice and spend the night. Sure, you've got to bring your own sleeping bags and food—but at $35 a night per head, with incredible ocean views, who's complaining?

TIP: For some serious mountain-bike fun, climb another two miles past the inn. Cross the road, and descend Eldridge Grade, a "rock garden"â€"type trail that will scramble your eggs. Be sure you have a map to navigate your way back home; there are multiple trail offshoots.

The West Point Inn, (415)-388-9955.

Golden Gate Ridge

Our second site's "peak" is more historic than geologic, but it's still irresistible: Transport yourself 10 miles south of San Francisco and 200 years back in time to the Sweeney Ridge Trail. You're a Spanish explorer who's ventured into the Bay Area for the first time. After an hour and a half stumbling along this trail you surmount a ridge and simply stare, astonished: San Francisco Bay opens in all its glinting grandeur before you. Look for the stone monument that marks the spot where explorer Gaspar de Portolá discovered the bay—and keep your own little brush with history in your head all year long. More Information

Directions: Start from the trailhead behind Parking Lot 2 at Skyline College (park at Parking Lot 4). The trail tops out at the Nike Missile Site (unarmed relics of the Cold War) with lovely views of the deep blue San Andreas Lake and Crystal Springs. Continue south on the road 1/2 a mile more to reach the monument.

Lord of the Rise

Our trifecta would not be complete without the East Bay's iconic peak: magical Mt. Diablo. A morning trip to the summit will bring you 3,849 feet closer to heaven than hell. With sweeping views from Mt. Lassen to the Golden Gate, you can't help but be inspired. For an added dose of solitary splendor, hike on to the second summit that fewer people reach, North Peak. It can be a windy, winding walk, but as the sun rises over the rolling green hills and clusters of homes emerge from thick pockets of fog, you'll feel like you've wandered into a corner of Middle Earth. More Information

Directions to North Peak: From the Summit Road, start at the Devil's Elbow Trailhead, .7 miles below the main summit at the pullout on the east side of the road. Follow the sign to Prospector's Gap leading off to the right, then bear right again at the saddle to climb North Peak, visible ahead.

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