Girls Run Wild

Get Out of Dodge…and Exercise While You’re at it!

Posted on: June 23, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I shared my favorite Bay Area hike in the small West Marin town of Inverness.  Hiking is a great weekend activity and is an excellent excuse to ditch the nasty City weather and head elsewhere for some real summer heat.  If you keep a decent pace, aren’t afraid of hills, and have enough time for a 5-10 mile hike, hiking can prove to be a great workout.  Or, if you really want to push yourself, run a hiking route instead.

If you’re new to the Bay Area or just haven’t spent much time exploring the natural areas outside of the City, there are several hiking areas and resources for hikers within just minutes of the City’s borders.  Bay Area Hiker.com is one of the best websites I have found for discovering hikes.  Each hike is detailed with driving directions, trailhead information, difficulty rating, and any additional must-knows.  You can also find books devoted to hikes in the Bay Area – however, be aware that trails can change after a book has gone to print with different weather and erosion patterns.

Looking for a fun hike for this weekend?  Try the Muir Woods-Mountain Home 4.7 mile loop.  This hike begins at the top of Mill Valley along Panoramic Highway (parking is available on the side of the road here) and brings you down to the base of Muir Woods.  You’ll follow the redwoods back up to Panoramic.  And when you’ve made it back to the top, The Mountain Home Inn’s back deck is the perfect spot for a post-hike beer and snack.  This hike is a great excuse to see Muir Woods without having to deal with the parking lot (and lack of parking).  Complete details of this hike can be found here.

Muir Woods

What to bring on a hike: I know you’re probably thinking, how hard is it to go on a 5 mile hike?  Well, you never know what the wilderness might bring, so it’s always best to err on the side of preparation.  Wear good shoes AND socks.  Flip flops are really dumb for hikes.  Not only do you open yourself up to injury (stepping on a rock, a twig, stubbing a toe), but your feet are bound to hurt afterwards.  Bring water with you.  Unlike working out at the gym or going for a walk in the City, there’s no corner store or water fountain on wilderness trails.  Bring your phone with you AND make sure it’s charged.  Even though cell phone reception might not exist where you are, it’s always best to have your phone just in case.  Bring a snack.  Eat breakfast (or lunch) before your hike, but if you’re going for more than 5 miles it doesn’t hurt to bring an energy bar or a pack of trail mix with you.  Watch out for poison oak and check for ticks.

A Tick

Poison Oak: "Leaves of Three Let Them Be"

And finally…Wear layers – and sunscreen!  This is still the Bay Area, after all.  Even Marin County gets fog in the summer months.  And even though the skies are overcast, you can still get sunburned.

Have a favorite hike in Northern California?  Please share!  Happy Hiking!

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