Hike Lake Tahoe, Tilden Park, Hike Point Reyes


Take a Hike

Only got a day to beat your feet from the city streets and get out to nature? Take a hike. Here are three recommendations that let you put your best foot forward.

Andrew Skurka

On Skurka's Trail

Two years ago, 26-year-old hiking phenom Andrew Skurka became the first person ever to complete the nearly 8,000-mile Sea-to-Sea Route, a chain of trails spanning the breadth of North America from Quebec's coastal waters to the sands of Washington state. Today, Skurka is making more history by hiking what he's calling "The Great Western Loop"—a never-been-done circuit starting in the Grand Canyon, running up the mountain ranges of California, Oregon, and Washington, then east along the Canadian border to the Rockies and down the spine of the Continental Divide. And he's doing all 7,000 miles in seven months. Skurka recently called us from a pay phone outside the town of Mt. Shasta (he's at about the quarter mark) to update us on the trip. His favorite part of the hike so far? The Pacific Crest Trail at Donner Pass near Lake Tahoe. "You're perched up on a ridgetop with views in every direction," said Skurka. Lucky for us, we don't have to start from the Grand Canyon to access this scenic spot; for day hikers, Skurka recommends grabbing a camera and jumping on the 4.7-mile Mt. Judah Loop off the Pacific Crest Trail. "You'll get the most panoramic vistas I've seen," he said. You heard it here first.

For updates and information about Andrew Skurka's history-making hike around the American West, visit www.andrewskurka.com.

Directions to the Mt. Judah Loop: From I-80, take the Soda Springs exit. Drive about 4 miles on Donner Pass Rd. (Old Hwy 40). Near the pass, and west of Alpine Skills International, turn south, following signs to the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn left and you'll see the trailhead with minimal parking. Note: The Mt. Judah Loop is dog-friendly. More information.

Nimitz Way Trail Tilden Park

Ridge Walker

Among the tempting trails in Berkeley's venerable Tilden Park, the Nimitz Way Trail shines brightest. This paved, ridgeline route winds through both Tilden and Wildcat Canyon Regional Parks and offers gorgeous vistas of San Francisco Bay and the San Pablo Reservoir. The Nimitz feels remarkably remote from hustling city life, and we suggest enhancing its sense of solitude with a sunrise jaunt. You pick up the Nimitz at Inspiration Point (see directions below). More than two miles into the park, look for the "Rotary Peace Garden" sign at the trail's first picnic table and take the ascent to Wildcat Peak, where a 360-degree vista awaits. If you're still charged, stick to the Nimitz through Wildcat Canyon Park until it meets the Conlon Trail; you'll be rewarded with a sun-drenched view of Mt. Diablo, framed by the East Bay's undulating, golden-brown hills. When you're scenery-sated, just retrace your steps to Inspiration Point.

Note: Nimitz is open-ridgeline hiking; it can be hot and/or breezy. Bring a pack, some light layers, and lots of water. Also, Tilden and Wildcat trail markers can be confusing—they use symbols rather than names, so be sure to reference the regional park maps where the symbols are listed. The route is popular later in the day, but early risers mostly miss the influx of other park enthusiasts.

Directions to the Nimitz Way Trail: From Berkeley, take Grizzly Peak Blvd. to Wildcat Canyon Rd. Follow it all the way to the parking lot at Inspiration Point. More information.

Tomales Point Trail Point Reyes

Hot Tomales

For an immersion in Mother Nature's majesty, try the Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore. The wide, easy 4.7-mile (one way) walk traces the park's burly, Pacific-plunging bluffs, and passes some rare sights, including hundreds of once-endangered tule elk. Feel the ocean breeze slide across treeless headlands as you devour the uninterrupted Pacific views to the west and beautiful Tomales Bay to the east. Hikers can turn around anytime, but we recommend going all the way to picnic at the trail's end lookout point. Spot sea lions surfing the waves and sailboats bobbing in distant Bodega Bay, and if you're lucky, whales diving and flicking their tails. The return trip offers a different vantage point, so you'll be treated to new views of rocky outcroppings, dramatic cliffs, and possibly even closer encounters with the roaming tule elk (who like to queue up and trot across the trail). Bring binoculars and snacks. And remember, respect your Elk.

BONUS: Afterward, relax at nearby McClure Beach. It's just a half-mile hike from the designated parking lot, bonfires are permitted (with a fire permit) and crowds are slim.

The trailhead is at the northern end of Point Reyes at Pierce Point Ranch. Note: The last three-quarters of a mile, sand and overgrowth obscures the trail, but just keep walking and you'll reach the rocky tip in no time. More information.

Week 2: You're Invited

Patagonia has teamed up with Weekend Sherpa to talk about initiatives they support, activities they love, and clothes they dig.

Patagonia Palo Alto, Grand Opening Celebration!

Win a $1,000 Patagonia Gift Card and Help the Environment

When: Saturday, July 14, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Where: Patagonia, 525 Alma Street, Palo Alto.
WIN: $1,000 Gift Card, plus other swag like posters, frisbees, tote bags, and Kaenon sunglasses!
VOTE: Patagonia will present a $5,000 check to a local environmental group in support of their work. Voice Your Choice. Click here to view the five worthy candidates and vote for your favorite. The one with the most votes will receive $5,000! (Voting deadline: July 9.)

Patagonia Palo Alto
525 Alma St. (free parking nearby)
Hours: Monday
Saturday 106 & Sunday 116

Miss a week? Click here to see an archive of Patagonia's 12 Weeks of Summer.

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