Not everyone works the 9-5 schedule. Some of us tend bar, work from home, or just don’t do employment. And while those nontraditional schedules have their hangups (it’s hard to find a date for a Tuesday afternoon matinee), they also have perks—like crowd-free access to popular trails.
So this week, we rounded up three Bay Area hikes that are at their best during working hours. And for those of you that “work” from home, we made sure each has working cell service for those urgent emails.
San Francisco’s Mountain Lake Trail
If you need a mental break from the city, but don’t have the time, energy, or gas to actually leave city limits, try the Presidio in Golden Gate Recreation Area.
The Presidio’s 2.6-mile Mountain Lake Trail is well-suited for those seeking a short hike. The paved multi-use trail is accessible by bicycle and wheelchair, and offers great views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
If you go: Start at the intersection of Broadway and Lyon, following the trail through newly planted cypress groves and over wooden walkways through marshes. Beyond Mountain Lake, a good stop to take a rest, continue on to Baker Beach. Be warned: Baker is a nude beach, so be prepared to see some… sights.
Photo courtesy the Presidio Trust. Photo has been cropped.
Berkeley’s Claremont Canyon Preserve
On weekends and holidays, Berkeley’s 208-acre Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve can be so crowded as to deter serious hikers (or at least crowded enough to deter us). But the preserve offers some of the best views in the Bay Area, so it’s well worth a visit during working hours.
Our favorite trail in the preserve is the Stonewall Panoramic Ridge Trail: a 3.2-mile out-and-back that offers hikers a full view of every major landmark in the Bay Area, including the Farallon Islands on clear days.
If you go: Find the trailhead at the preserve’s Stonewall Road entrance (off Claremont Ave. in Oakland), and follow the trail along the ridge. There are no parking, use or pet fees in the park (leashed dogs are allowed), and a trail map is available online.
Photo by Stephen Lea. Photo has been cropped.
Piedmont’s Redwood Regional Park
Considering their proximity to San Francisco, the shaded groves of the 1,830-acre Redwood Regional Park are remarkably quiet and peaceful. And it’s exactly that peace and quiet that attracts hikers from all across the Bay Area… lots and lots and lots of them.
On the weekends, that is. From Monday-Friday, the park is relatively free from crowds—even along the moderate (and popular) 2.5-mile East Ridge Trail Loop. The hike is scenic and shaded, making a great option for late summer afternoons.
If you go: Start your hike at the clearly-marked trailhead at the Pinehurst Staging Area on Pinehurst Road. Park on the road and hop right onto the East Ridge Trail. From there, turn left at Canyon Trail, right onto the Steam Trail, right again onto the Prince Trail, and right one last time to get back onto the East Ridge Trail. Parking and entry is free on weekdays, and a trail map is available online.
Photo by Miguel Vieria. Words by Brian Krans.