Hello, Sunol

Hike Sunol Regional Park for Wildflowers

It's one of the grandest hikes of them all: Sunol Regional Park positively beams in spring. Take the grand tour and see major landmarks in the park on a 6-mile (round-trip) hike featuring babbling brooks, beautiful peaks, and burgeoning wildflowers. There’s some solid climbing on this route to get to the views … but the vista you get is worth the effort. Start from the Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve headquarters. Cross Alameda Creek via the bridge to the Canyon View Trail on the right. Walking through the small valley, you’ll feel whisked along by the sounds of the creek just a few feet away. Take your second left onto the Indian Joe Creek Trail, which is the beginning of your ascent. The trail quickly leads you to Indian Joe Creek. As you climb, the trail meanders its way along the creek and includes a handful of stream crossings.

Person taking a hiking break sitting on a bench overlooking scenery at Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve

Hiker on trail at Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve

purple wildflowers alongside a hiking trail at Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve

Hiker on bridge at Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve

Hiker along a trail at Sunol Regional Wilderness Preserve

As you climb, pass though oak savanna that is dotted with California poppies in spring. After nearly 1.5 miles of ascending, you'll reach a T-intersection. Follow Cave Rocks Road to the right. The trail also offers panoramic views of the neighboring hillsides and the Calaveras Reservoir a few miles to the south. The top of your climb marks another highlight of the trip, marked by the large rock Cerro Este Overlook sign and a bench. Take a breather, grab a snack, and soak in the view. On clear days, you can see the Bay. Head down the mountain on Cerro Este Road.

Poppies at Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve

As you get closer to the valley floor, follow the signs to Little Yosemite, where Alameda Creek and the canyon feature an oases that's either relatively calm or, after heavy rains, quite lively! Scramble down a few rocks to the water’s edge. Hop a bit more and explore the area on the giant boulders that give Little Yosemite its grandness.

Little Yosemite in Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve

Get back to the parking lot by backtracking slightly up Cerro Este Road to Canyon View Trail (about 0.2 mile). Take a left and follow the trail for the final 1.5 miles.

This is great for a cooler day or a morning hike. The hike is difficult, with over 1500 feet of elevation gain that is mostly completed in the first half of the hike. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for the trail. A park access fee of $5 is required when the attendant is on duty. The park has poor cell service, so grab a trail map or snap a picture of the map that is posted before crossing the Alameda Creek bridge. You can also download the trail map. Dog-friendly!

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Afternoon on the Island

    What is it about tiny islands in the middle of lakes? There’s something that just draws you in. It’s even more fun when getting there is half the adventure because you have to reach it by canoe, kayak, paddleboat, or a ranger guided boat tour!

  2. Camp and Kayak at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest

    Sleeper Hit

    It's all about the water, and the camping, at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest, a High Sierra reservoir perfect for kayak explorations and pitching your tent with the lake in the background.

  3. Hiker in the forest at Mount Sutro in San Francisco

    San Francisco's Middle Earth

    No need to travel to New Zealand to visit Middle Earth. San Francisco’s Mount Sutro Open Space is practically Hobbiton—a hidden “shire” in the middle of the city. Okay, maybe not quite as magical, but still an incredible place to take a hike in city limits.

  4. Woman walking down the stairs overlooking the ocean on the Coastal Trail in San Francisco

    America's Best Urban Hike

    Many years ago we dubbed it the “Grand Walk” and said it was one of the most scenic and stunning trails in the West. We were wrong. This is the most scenic urban hike in America!


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Two people smiling for a selfie on Santa Cruz Island Channel Island National Park

    Island Ahoy!

    Take to the seas on a weekend adventure to remote Santa Cruz Island (the largest among Channel Islands National Park) and an idyllic campsite coupled with a rugged 8-mile (round-trip) trek to a hidden beach.

  2. woman on rocks at Salt Point State Park Sonoma Coast

    Sweet and Salty

    Located on Highway 1 about 18 miles north of Jenner, Salt Point State Park is wild, scenic, and one of the most beautiful places to do some classic coastal camping.

  3. Woman biking the Ventura to Ojai bike path in Ventura County

    Ojai There!

    If a substantive and super scenic bike ride is right in your wheelhouse, do the 30-mile (round-trip) Ventura-to-Ojai bike path that begins (and ends) near the Ventura shoreline, pit-stopping in delightful Ojai for food and drinks.

  4. Masterpiece Marshland + Beers

    San Dieguito Lagoon is one of the biggest wetland habitats in America. Uncover the magical marshland masterpiece on a gentle 3-mile out-and-back urban hike with a pit stop at a brewery.