Hike Half Moon Bay - Muir Woods Winter Solstice - Lands End Labyrinth


Burning Daylight

The days are getting shorter as winter solstice approaches, but don’t bury your head under the pillows—get outdoors with these three made-for-winter wanderings.

Hike Pillar Point Bluffs Half Moon Bay

Walk the Bluff

Winter brings the strongest ocean swells of the year, and there's no place more famed for big, gnarly surf than Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, home to the annual Mavericks competition. But you don't have to wait for the event to enjoy this prime ocean-side landscape. Just beyond sight of the legendary Mavericks break, the bluffs north of Pillar Point offer one of the nicest ocean-watching walks on the coast. The trail we like is 150 feet above the ocean alongside rugged cliffs that descend to a protected beach, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Walking along the continent's crust, you'll have unobstructed views of Half Moon Bay to the south and Point Montara to the north. The trail ends after about a mile, but you can continue a bit farther through a residential neighborhood to the historic Moss Beach Distillery; enjoy a hot toddy, then head back the way you came.

Moss Beach Distillery, 140 Beach Way, Moss Beach; 650-728-5595. The food at Moss Beach Distillery is pricey (overpriced, in our opinion); bring your own snacks if you're watching your budget. To reach the trailhead: Drive 25 miles down Hwy 1, south of San Francisco. Turn right on Capistrano Rd. in Princeton-by-the-Sea. Turn left onto Prospect Way and right onto Broadway. Make an immediate left onto Harvard and follow it through the industrial area. Turn right on West Point Ave. and continue to the Pillar Point dirt parking lot on the left. Begin the hike by going through the yellow gate across from the parking lot. Follow the paved road uphill toward the antenna. Follow a dirt trail on the left when the road curves right. This is the beginning of the bluff trail. The trail ends at Ocean Blvd.; continue walking a few blocks to the distillery. Both the trail and the distillery are dog-friendly!

Muir Woods Winter Solstice

Muir Woods by Candlelight

Once a year Muir Woods is transformed into a luminous nighttime landscape. Late on the afternoon of the winter solstice, the trails are lit by luminarias, and hikers are invited to stroll along candlelit paths through some of the oldest and tallest trees on the planet. This annual winter-solstice event is a family-friendly celebration of one of the Bay Area's most beloved parks. The occasion includes stage performances, story telling, and bonfires, as well as a special "Solstice Menu" that typically features hot apple cider and other bone-warming beverages. Bring your favorite mug, winter jacket, and blanket, and savor some solstice enchantment.

The celebration is Dec. 21 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Parking is limited, so it's wise to arrive early and carpool. No dogs. Bring a flashlight. For more information, click here.

Lands End Labyrinth

Lands End Labyrinth

Perched on a small plateau off the main Coastal Trail, the labyrinth in San Francisco's Lands End is an inviting outdoor creation: a simple strolling circuit with unmatched views of the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge. Created by Eduardo Aguilera in 2004, the labyrinth feels like it has been part of the landscape for centuries. It's the perfect setting for a solstice stroll. And in the winter, the waves crashing against the cliffs give the place a dramatic mystique. The labyrinth was intended to be a site for meditation and relaxation, but it's also just a lot of fun to walk on a whim. On our last visit—between big rainstorms—there wasn't a soul on the trail.

Park at Lands End parking lot behind the Cliff House at Point Lobos Ave and 48th Ave. (map). Walk east on the Coastal Trail and take the offshoot trail to Mile Rock Beach. Descend the stairs. When the staircase turns a sharp left, continue on a trail going straight. The labyrinth comes into view. Dog-friendly. For more information, click here.

Topic 3 photo courtesy of Jim Goldstein

Eco-friendly Kids' Clothing

Patagonia's kids' clothes not only are made with green ingredients but also are guaranteed to last a lifetime—making them perfect hand-me-downs.

Marshmallow Fellows: The Kids' Puff Rider Jacket is a tear-resistant, water-repelling, polyester shell that is super-compressible and seriously warm during outdoor adventures.

Pig Pen No More! Moisture-wicking and made from recycled polyester, the Kids' Capilene 3 Zip-Neck has a natural odor-control ingredient, keeping kids dry and un-stinky in any activity or weather condition. 100% recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program.

No Soggy Bottoms: Kids can go big and deep in Puffski Pants. The tear- and water-resistant shell keeps legs dry and knees protected. Specially designed to accommodate growth spurts.

Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny Beanie: The supersoft Kids' Beanie Hat slips under alpine and skateboard helmets or adds warmth beneath a hood. Made with merino wool, there's an interior fleece headband for added protection around the ears and forehead.

BONUS REMINDER: With each purchase you make, Patagonia will gift wrap it in reusable cloth for no charge—only for Weekend Sherpa subscribers (mention at checkout).

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

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