Best Bay Area Hill Climbs

If you are looking for some E (elevation) in the Bay Area, this post provides a great list of hill climbs, including famous mountains like Diablo and Tamalpais, but also lesser known trails and summits. These ascents will not only get your heart pumping, but will also inspire you with the beauty of nature. The high point is provided in parenthesis.

  • Steep Ravine/Dipsea Mount Tamalpais State Park (1,500 ft): Aptly named, this magical trail on the flanks of Mount Tamalapais traverses through a redwood filled ravine complete with a rushing stream and even a ladder! When this trail is combined with the lower portion of the Dipsea Trail it climbs from Stinson Beach to Pantoll in 3 miles.
  • Black MountainRancho San Antonio Open Space (2,800 ft): Fantastic views of the Silicon Valley are the highlight of this climb with an exhilarating last 1.5 miles to the summit where over 1,000 feet of elevation is grinded out.
Black Mountain Trail, photo courtesy Gary Gellin
Black Mountain Trail, photo courtesy Gary Gellin
  • Mission Peak Mission Peak Regional Park (2,517 ft): Lots of steep up, with ~2,100 ft over 3 miles. Great views can be seen while ascending the aesthetic summit ridge.
  • Kings Mountain via Richards RoadHuddart County Park (2,000 ft): A great climb to gauge hill climbing fitness. From the rock at East Meadow to Skyline Blvd under redwoods; ~1,700 feet of gain over 2.9 miles, virtually all of it coming in the last 2 miles.
  • Kings Mountain via Lonely Trail Phleger Estate (2,000 ft): 4.1 miles from the entrance into Phleger Estate to Skyline Blvd on great single track amongst redwoods and streams with a steep finish.
  • North Peak (Montara Mountain)San Pedro Valley County Park & McNee Ranch (1,898 ft): Gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and pristine coastal scrub is everpresent on this 1,800+ foot climb in 3.5 miles.
  • Rose PeakOhlone Wilderness (3,817 ft): One of the Bay Area big boys, Rose Peak is an arduous 10 mile climb either from Sunol or from Lake Del Valle. A roundtrip will have you running nearly 20 miles with over 5,000 feet of gain either way you go.

Eight more great hill climbs after the jump!

  • Hollow Tree Trail Big Basin State Park (2,280 ft): A 2.3 mile trail that climbs nearly 1,200 feet, most of it on the very steep 1.33 mile long lower portion of the trail.
  • Mount Tamalpais via Temelpa TrailMarin Watershed (2,571 ft): A classic climb that officially begins at the 1,000 foot level on the flanks of Mount Tam. This is a gnarly, washed out trail that the park has rerouted near the top to prevent further erosion, but has made it less direct.
  • Butano Ridge Pescadero County Park (2,100 ft): Entirely under a forest canopy, this trail gains over 1,600 feet in 2.6 miles. A section of this climb is known as “40 corners” with a series of tiny, steep switchbacks.
  • Table MountainUpper Stevens Creek County Park (2,600 ft): With ~1,400 ft of gain over 3.3 miles, this isn’t the steepest climb, but it’s a long hill nonetheless in a pretty setting of Douglas fir and hardwood forest.
  • Eagle Rock Little Basin (2,488 ft): Great views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and San Lorenzo River Valley from the  summit with a choice of a steep fireroad or a technical single track; ~1,500 feet of gain.
  • Sunnyvale Mountain via Sanborn Trail & San Andreas Trail Sanborn County Park (3,000 ft): A nice path with redwoods, madrones, and fir trees climbing ~1,600 feet in 2.4 miles.
  • El Sombroso via Alma Bridge Road Sierra Azul Open Space (2,999 ft): Great views of the Santa Clara valley. Take either the Limekiln or High Priest Trail. The upper part of the High Priest Trail just before Kennedy Trail has a wicked steep pitch. All told, from the trailhead to the summit is nearly 3,000 feet of climbing.
  • Mount Diablo via Mitchell CanyonMount Diablo State Park (3,849 ft): No other hill climb in the Bay Area can boast so much elevation gain over such a short distance. Diablo stands isolated from other mountains and therefore provides stupdendous 360 degree views. Numerous routes are available, but the route up Eagle Peak might be the most scenic.

Check out the list of the Best Peninsula Single Tracks!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. GREAT HIKING TRAILS! We have been looking for a great post or site to go over Marin and Northern County hiking trails. Thanks for the post! Check us out as well!

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