Looking for ways to enjoy nature around town? Here’s a few great spots to check out when you’re heading out on your next hike. Palo Alto is a beautiful city in California, less than 35 miles from San Francisco. In addition to many options for dining and urban activities, there are a ton of awesome hiking trails around Palo Alto, too. As you plan your next trip to the Bay Area, consider which hikes you’ll want to take advantage of. Here are some of our favorite hikes near Palo Alto to add to your itinerary!
1. Redtail Loop Trail
The Redtail Loop Trail, located in the Pearson Arastradero Preserve, is a one-way, 1.2-mile loop with beautiful views of rolling hills and majestic mountains. This hike is ideal for families and children, and offers provides plenty of opportunities for bird watching along the trail. Want to bring your dog along for the adventure? No problem! Just be sure to keep them on leash.
2. Cooley Landing Via Bay Trail
Enjoy a leisurely walk through marshland and vegetation on Cooley Landing via Bay Trail, a flat, out-and-back trail with views of the Dumbarton Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. Sitting at nearly 3 miles, this is a mellow hike, featuring some of the last remaining salt marsh on the West Coast. What makes this area especially unique is that the marsh has a mix of various plant types, such as cordgrass and pickleweed. This is a good trail to hike if you have children with you. Be sure to pack everything you need in your backpack.
3. Creek Loop at Hidden Villa
This mile-long trail packs a serious punch when it comes to beauty. Full of lush trees and rushing water, this short hike is great for beginners and has plenty of fantastic spots for a photo op. This trail is located in Hidden Villa, a private non-profit farm and nature preserve with a hostel, all-organic farm, and nine miles of hiking trails. After you hike the Creek Loop Trail, it’s easy to extend your adventure by continuing on to other trails in the preserve if you choose.
4. Wildcat Canyon Loop
The Wildcat Canyon Loop, located in Rancho San Antonio County Park, provides a spectacular, panoramic view of the South Bay, and is one of the prettiest parts of the park. This seven-mile hike is on the longer side, so start early to give yourself plenty of daylight. Despite the length, though, the flat trail makes this hike kid-friendly.
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5. Grizzly Flat South and Grizzly Flat North Loop
The Grizzly Flat South and Grizzly Flat North Loop is an excellent spot for an easy nature hike. At just over two miles long, this trail will give you plenty of opportunities to find different types of wildflowers and catch some fantastic views. The abundant shade makes this loop perfect for a leisurely adventure. Featuring moss-covered trees and truly spectacular vistas, this trail is a must for your itinerary.
6. Cowell-Purisima Trail
Want a beach experience during your trip to Palo Alto? A short 35-minute drive will bring you to Half Moon Bay State Beach, where you can enjoy a seven-mile hike on the Cowell-Purisima Trail. This trail is right on the coastline, with beautiful views of the beach throughout the whole hike. Not only does this trail provide the sights, sounds, and smells of the beach, but it is family, wheelchair, and stroller accessible. This trail offers little shade, so bring a hat and wear plenty of sunscreen.
7. Alambique Trail
This four-mile loop trail in Wunderlich County Park is wonderful for anyone who wants to birdwatch or see unique wildflowers. It also intersects with the Skyline Trail, making it easy to extend your hike. This shaded, moderate forest trail is a great option for all skill levels.
8. Cloud’s Rest-Meadow Trail Loop
Looking for an opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay Area? The Cloud’s Rest-Meadow Trail Loop (located in the Coal Creek Preserve) is a 2.5-mile hike with plenty of shade. Depending on the time of day you’re hiking, you might see rabbits, coyotes, and deer feeding in an open field near the trail.
9. Arastradero Creek Trail
The Arastradero Creek Trail in the Enid Pearson-Arastradero Preserve is a moderate three-mile hike. Because the trail is relatively flat, it’s great for beginners and a good starting point for other hikes in the preserve. If you’re short on time, this hike is ideal for quickly satisfying your need to enjoy some time outdoors. Bring along your dog as long as they’re leashed, and keep an eye out for birds and wildflowers as you enjoy your hike.
10. Franciscan Loop Trail
This 1.5-mile trail is an easy hike and a wonderful way to satisfy your need for time outdoors. Located on the edge of the Santa Cruz Mountains in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space, this trail provides plenty of shade and isn’t very popular, so you’re likely to have the trail to yourself. Enjoy views of the mountains of the San Francisco Bay, as well as a variety of wildflowers and wildlife like deer and squirrels.
11. Stream Trail
The Stream Trail is an easy three-mile hike that takes you through an old-growth redwood grove, a popular hike in Redwood Regional Park. While this trail is simple and leisurely, you’re guaranteed to find some incredible views as you explore this beautiful wooded area. This area is a great spot to take advantage of some bird watching, and dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed. Pack a lunch and enjoy your meal on this must-visit trail!
12. Page Mill Trail
The Page Mill Trail, in the Los Trancos Open Space Preserve, is a mellow three-mile hike that offers views of some beautiful rolling hills. This trail is also known for having a variety of wildflowers blooming along the way and has some pretty spectacular views. This trail is perfect for any skill level and has relatively low traffic, so it’s easy to find some alone time here.
13. Lost Trail
Located in the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, the Lost Trail is a hilly, 2.8-mile out-and-back hike with panoramic views. There are many other trails that break off of Lost Trail, so it’s easy to keep the adventure going if you choose.
14. Meadowlark Trail
The Meadowlark Trail is a two-mile out-and-back hike that seriously delivers when it comes to views. All along this trail, you’ll find wildflowers, great bird watching, and various views of the reserve. This easy hike is great for groups with smaller children, and dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed.
15. Alpine Road Trail
A 2.5-miles, this heavily wooded out-and-back trail is ideal for hikers and bikers alike. It also provides a great opportunity to try and spot some wildlife, with birds, deer, and coyotes making regular appearances in the area. If you’re looking for a way to get outside but you’re crunched for time, this hike is easy to squeeze into your schedule.
Whether you’re looking for an opportunity to see some wildlife or you’re dying to catch a panoramic glimpse of the Bay Area, we hope you hike a few of our favorite trails on your next trip to Northern California.