Best Hikes with Dogs Bay Area and Beyond  by Thom Gabrukiewicz

Best Hikes with Dogs: Bay Area & Beyond Guide Book

by Thom Gabrukiewicz (The Mountaineers Books)
Best Hikes with Dogs Bay Area and Beyond  by Thom Gabrukiewicz
Thom Gabrukiewicz and canine companions Scully and Trinity have hiked more than 2,000 miles together to select the best trails for optimum canine enjoyment in the Bay Area and beyond. These trails do not require leashes (except in parks as noted). More than two-thirds of the hikes are on lesser known trails where travel is light and where you're unlikely to meet horses, bicycles, or motorized vehicles. They avoid steep, rocky terrain and offer lakes or streams as a reward. Additional features include what to pack for your pooch (The Ten Canine Essentials), and a Trail Finder chart that lists hikes by terrain, difficulty for dogs, leash regulations, and more.

© 2004 Thom Gabrukiewicz/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes with Dogs: Bay Area & Beyond" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 75.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 75.

This area is managed as part of a 24,000-acre watershed that brings drinking water to 246,073 people in Marin County, but you could have fooled me—the sprawling area includes five lakes stocked with trout, forested hills, and 130 acres of maintained trails. The area was purchased in 1918 from the Marin Water and Power Company and has evolved into the water-storage and recreation site it is today. Rain that falls on Mount Tamalpais flows into Lagunitas Creek and its tributaries and is stored in the water district’s five reservoirs. Lake Lagunitas was built in 1872, Phoenix Lake in 1905, Alpine Lake in 1918 (enlarged in 1924 and 1941), Bon Tempe Lake in 1948, and Kent Lake in 1953. Each has its own distinctive vibe, but Alpine really stands out.
Fairfax, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2
Every city, it seems, has a trail where dog walkers can see and be seen. In Sacramento, that trail is the American River Parkway, a 23-mile (one-way) paved trail that links Sacramento with the towns of Rancho Cordova, Fair Oaks, and Folsom. There are actually two parallel trails happening here. One is the paved American River Parkway for cyclists and roller bladers, then there’s the dirt Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail for horses, trail runners, and hikers. Certainly no one does the entire trip in one fell swoop; people tend to enjoy short sections and return to their cars to continue with their busy lives. Evening seems to be the busiest time along the trail, when its crowded with joggers and dog walkers.
Sacramento, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 23
This trek takes you along the hidden bays and coves of 315-acre Lake Chabot; plenty of stairways lead to the water’s edge where you can cast a line or just admire the view. This area was closed to visitors for ninety-one years, after the lake was completed in 1875. Then, on one weekend in 1966, the lake opened to some 30,000 anglers eager to cast a line in the still blue waters (the lake has bass, trout, crappie, bluegill, and carp).
Castro Valley, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.6
Rolling grasslands, oak savannas, and a pretty little lake that’s got fish in it. This little slice of heaven is comparatively underused by most busy Bay Area residents. But that doesn’t mean you should skip the Arastradero Preserve. No sir. The trails are mostly flat and wide and can accommodate mountain bikers, horse riders, hikers, and dog walkers. The destination here is Arastradero Lake, a little man-made lake that has all the charm of its natural cousins.
Woodside, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
It’s just a wisp of a trail, based on north state standards, but the McConnell Arboretum Perimeter Trail packs a wallop for dog walkers, mountain bikers, and fitness striders. It’s been a few years in the making—and as of July 4, 2004 it’s connected to the nearly 12-mile Sacramento River Trail—but the nearly 2-mile trail is a fantastic place to take a leisurely stroll. Construction near the Sundial Bridge that links Turtle Bay Exploration Park with the McConnell Arboretum blocks the opening of the perimeter trail from the rest of the river trail (the $24-million bridge, designed by famed architect Santiago Calatrava, opened to the public in the summer of 2004).
Redding, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
This trail takes in a few miles of shoreline of California’s largest manmade lake. Lake Shasta was created when Shasta Dam was built in 1945, harnessing the waters of the Sacramento, McCloud, and Pit Rivers. The lake has 365 miles of shoreline, one for every day of the year. Here, you’ll get to explore a prominent peninsula that once was a mountain. This well-maintained trail attracts anglers who sling lines into the numerous coves, as well as mountain bikers and families out for a stroll. You’ll get a glimpse of Holiday Harbor, one of the many marinas that cater to the myriad of houseboaters who make annual pilgrimages to the lake.
Redding, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
The Hat Creek Rim is a 1000-foot ridge that invites all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts to play—from dog walkers and hikers, to mountain bikers and even hang-gliding enthusiasts. It’s not unusual to see multicolored gliders floating on the thermals created when wind sweeps up the valley all summer. Indeed, the rim hosts a large hang-gliding event every Labor Day. While this hike is a blast in the spring, summer, and fall, winter is the time the girls love this jaunt the most. And so will you. If you’ve never tried snowshoeing, this is just the trip to learn. You’ll travel through a volcanic world that is softened by snow, and the terrain is flat and the path is wide. Unlike cross-country or downhill skiing, where there is a learning curve to good performance, the basics of snowshoeing have never changed. If you can walk, you can snowshoe.
Burney, CA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 7
Your destination is the rugged stone lookout on Barnabe Peak. As the trail ascends, you’ll get a good look at Bolinas Ridge and San Geronimo Ridge. Once you make the top, stop to rest and take in the sweeping, 360-degree views before heading back to your car. Just before settling back into the shade of the bay laurel, take a left at a signed trail junction to check out the gravesite of mill owner and miner Samuel P. Taylor. Back on the trail, you’ll hook up with the Devils Gulch Fire Road and make your way out to the asphalt trail.
Novato, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
This is the way to run a railroad, albeit an abandoned one. The Bizz Johnson Trail links Susanville and the community of Westwood and is a 25-mile multiuse route that follows the rugged Susan River canyon. The trail is a combined effort between the Lassen Land and Trails Trust, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the Rails to Trails Conservancy (a Washington DC–based advocacy group that helps buy old rail right-of-ways). The historic trail actually is the former right-of-way of the Fernley and Lassen Railroad, built in 1914 to connect a logging mill in Westwood to the railroad’s mail line in Fernley, Nevada. The line operated for more than forty years, first run by Fernley and Lassen and later by Central Pacific and Southern Pacific Rail Corporation.
Susanville, CA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 13
This is a hike where you wouldn’t expect it. Nestled in the developments and neighborhoods is a trek that features remote trails through forest of native trees—mixed hardwood and conifer and some redwoods, too. Six trails lead into this open space, where Dawn Falls is a perfect destination if rains have fallen recently. Best yet, dogs are allowed on all six trails. Start on the other side of the gate and go up on an old fire road called Two Tanks, which climbs from the trailhead along a babbling stream. Here, you’ll be shaded under tan oaks, redwoods, and bigleaf maples. The climb continues after you turn right onto Corte Madera Ridge Road at about 0.8 mile. From here, you’ll make a left at Huckleberry Trail, which as the name implies, heads through a thicket of evergreen huckleberries.
Mill Valley, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
road by way of a metal tunnel, then heads into a canyon in which up until 1900, the city had exclusive rights to mine gold. Indeed, the canyon still holds relics from the area. Once through the tunnel, you’ll climb a bit and come to a water spigot that has its own dog dish. Refresh here, then press on toward the canyon, which is dotted with oak, gray pine, manzanita, and seasonal grasses. Of course, in spring the trail also comes alive with wildflowers—and the butterflies they attract.
Redding, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6
The trail starts from a wooden gate and gains 700 feet in elevation is the first 2.5 miles, cutting through rough granite outcroppings as the wide and inviting path inches up the ridgeline. You’ll come to your first spot to look around at a little over 0.5 mile. Look northwest for good views of Tomales Bay and the Point Reyes peninsula. Look east to Barnabe Peak. At 1.3 miles, you’ll get to a signed trail junction for the Jewell Fire Road. A little farther on, you’ll come to a field that from which you can see the dark forested Iverness Ridge as well as the Olema Valley. The trail gains its highest point nearly 5 miles into the trek, where eucalyptus trees stand guard.
Olema, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 11
It’s hard to imagine that a place so wild and so rugged exists so close to the hustle and bustle of downtown Oakland. But Bort Meadow is a magical place where you can pretend you’re a Wild West settler seeking fame and fortune. This hike features a lush grassland ringed by redwoods and eucalyptus, where you’re bound to see an abundance of wildlife, including quail, bobcat, deer, coyote, and a number of raptors circling above. This hike can get very hot in the summer, so it’s best to stick to visits from September through June. In spring, you’ll have the chance to walk through an expanse of wildflowers.
Castro Valley, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4
By late winter and early spring, the falls are at their most frothy white, and be prepared to get a little wet on the three stream crossings on the way to the falls. But in summer, when the temperatures are hovering around 100 degrees, cool, inviting Boulder Creek is a hiker’s delight, with many pools that teem with tiny rainbow trout and native sculpin, a small bottom-dwelling fish. If you’ve never had a backcountry experience with your pet, here’s the place to change that, all while being little more than 10 miles from the heart of Redding. Along the way to the falls are two seldom-used backcountry campsites, shaded in oak and pine forest, within the harmonious sounds of the creek rushing over granite boulders.
Redding, CA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
There’s a host of trail junctions on this loop, so it’s best to pick up a free map at the kiosk in the parking lot and match it up with a good topo map. From the gate near the information kiosk, start on the Alhambra Creek Trail. This is a typical East Bay trek—plenty of grasslands with valley oaks standing guard—but as you gain elevation on the Alhambra Creek Trail, you’ll be greeted in the spring by the most dazzling wildflower display I’ve ever found. California poppies, buttercups, lupine, and clover cover the landscape.
Lafayette, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.6
Dogs that like to swim will love the Bullards Bar Trail. Owners who like to swim, fish, and view wildflowers will love it just as much. This easy trail follows the contours of Bullards Bar Reservoir, a 4700- acre lake that offers 56 miles of shoreline wrapped by both the Plumas and Tahoe National Forests. Most people hike this trail in spring, when temperatures are most comfortable, but don’t forget that as the summer wears on, use drops. One of the best features of this recreation area is that it’s heavily wooded with huge ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, which means every campground site is shaded from the heat of a Sierra Nevada foothills summer. With the lake within easy distance for the entire 14- mile trip, there’s always the chance to cool off. And you’ll always get the feeling that you’re the only one at this clear mountain lake, which doesn’t get as much pressure as some other Northern California reservoirs.
Nevada City, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 14
This is a popular hike, since you’ll get two great lakes—the first right outside your car door and the second after a surprisingly easy trek into the rugged, 105,165-acre Mokelumne Wilderness Area. This wilderness area, designated by Congress in 1964, straddles the crest of the central Sierra Nevada within the Stanislaus, Eldorado, and Toiyabe National Forests. Because of increased outdoor activity near Carson Summit, officials with the Eldorado National Forest have had to place restrictions on an area known as the Carson Summit Management Area, which encompasses your destination, Emigrant Lake. As of this writing, people cannot camp within 300 feet of the lake so that the shoreline can heal. Also, campfires are not permitted. However, dogs are still allowed, and this is too scenic a trip to let rules that are good for the forest wreck your plans. Consider making this a day hike, instead of an overnighter.
South Lake Tahoe, CA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 9
Fall is the best time of year for hardy souls to make those final backpacking trips before the blanket of winter tucks everything up in white—and the Caribou Wilderness Area on the backside of Lassen Volcanic National Park is probably my most-favorite camping destination with the girls. Backpackers might need to get out their silk sleeping-bag liners for a bit of extra warmth, but the prospect of a few last weekends in the woods is alive and well. You can sense it in the valley: people who love to sleep with the windows open in Redding are getting up in the middle of the night to get out an extra comforter; condensation covers car windows. And in the mountains? Frost has already settled into some valleys. You can see your breath as you light the stove for that must-have cup of coffee after slipping from your cocoon of bag and tent.
Old Station, CA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 6.8
It’s not the most powerful waterfall you’ll likely see in your life, more like a gurgling friend, a quiet spot to rest, relax, and step out of the rat race, if only for the hour it takes to wander though Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve and the Elliott Nature Preserve. But make no mistake about it, happy Cascade Falls is worth the trip; indeed during my first trek there, numerous harried people asked if they were getting close the falls, which tumble down San Anselmo Creek before it widens out and provides a couple of great dipping spots for the dogs.
Fairfax, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
The science helps researchers understand some things about the world’s freshwater: how healthy it is, what’s happening to it, and how water quality can improve with time—and interference by people. What the budding researchers have found is that despite heavy year-round use, Castle Lake continues to be one of the most unspoiled subalpine lakes in the world. Start at Castle Lake and take this trip up to tiny Heart Lake, and you’ll have a great appreciation of these north state gems. This trek in fall offers up many fewer people, and you’ll be able to see the gradual color change, from greens to golds and browns. In the winter months, you’ll still be able to pick your way through the forest and up the ridge, but if the snow is too deep, you can satisfy your exploration needs by following the western shoreline of Castle Lake.
Weed, CA - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 3.4