If I am not sitting somewhere writing, or planting seeds in the garden, my favorite thing to be doing is hiking. I like strolling too, but nothing beats climbing up mountain trails to see amazing vistas I have never seen before. Fortunately for me, the two places I call home both offer exceptional hiking.
Hiking in the City by the Bay
For a major urban center, the greater San Francisco Bay area offers enough hikes to fill up every weekend, enough to keep your heart pumping and the adrenalin coursing. Some are in the city, others in nearby regions.
In town, hiking is a great way to engage with the City by the Bay. There is the excellent San Francisco Cross Town Trail that runs an impressive 17 miles from Candlestick Park in the Southeast to Land’s End in the Northwest. I’ve been in San Francisco, on and off, since law school, but this trail introduced me to neighborhoods, parks and fantastic stairways that I have never visited before.
Golden Gate Park has trails aplenty as well, including the Land’s End Trail near my house that leads from the old Sutro Baths area, along the coast but high above it, to Baker Beach and, ultimately, the Golden Gate Bridge. Then there is the Presidio’s 25 miles of trails too.
For more wonderful hiking, head north to Marin’s incredible Mount Tamalpais trails, and also the bluff trails between the Muir Woods National Redwood Park and the rocky beaches below. Or head south to Pacific and Santa Cruz, plus the many Pescadero marsh trails too.
Hiking in Basque Country
My little house in France sits in the Pyrenees, right on the border between France and Spain. These mountains contain hundreds of “contraband” trails, routes used to smuggle goods across the border before the EU opened the doors to easy travel. Also, during Franco’s rule in Spain, Basques were targeted by this fascist regime and many of those that could, escaped over the mountain trails into welcoming France.
While the French trails don’t take you to cool new neighborhoods, they have their share of thrills as you wind up and over the peaks. There is a marked trail that leads all of the way to the Mediterranean Sea on the other side of the country, as well as the famous Saint Juan de Compostela that runs from Saint Jean Pied a Port to the little Spanish ste of Compostela.
Hiking is wonderful in both California and France, and I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to experience both.