5 Stunning Bay Area Hikes (And the Breweries to Hit Up Afterwards)
Question: What is the best complement to a beautiful hike in the wilderness? A loved one by your side? Perhaps the setting sun on the horizon? Maybe finding a plastic bag of unmarked bills in a tree trunk possibly stashed in a drug deal gone awry? While all of these reasonable answers, the only one I’ll entertain for the purposes of this post is actually what happens after the hike. That’s right—I’m suggesting you chase your hike with a frosty beer!
If you’re like me, the answer to most situations in life is “a beer afterwards.” That’s why after every trip to the dentist, I hit the nearby bars in search for a nice smoked porter to wash down the residual fluoride. Ahhh, much better! I can’t believe a liquid was in my mouth that wasn’t beer for 30 minutes!
But when it comes to hiking, there’s nothing I love more than a cold one afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, I love experiencing the outdoors and all the benefits that come with it—fresh air, vitamin D, the opportunity to prove to my friends via Instagram that I’m both interesting and adventurous—but more importantly, I’m hoping to burn some calories so I don’t feel as guilty about overindulging on what’s basically liquid bread later. It’s all about balance, after all.
Anyway, enough about my insecurities. Here’s my list of some great places to go hiking in the Bay Area and the breweries to hit up afterwards!
1. Tilden Park and Fieldwork
The Hike: Seaview/Big Springs Loop (4.3 miles) - There are a lot of great places to go hiking in Berkeley and Oakland if you’re looking for a moderate trail with some gorgeous views. While I haven’t visited them all, you can’t go wrong with Tilden Park. The park itself is gigantic and filled with everything you come to expect in a big park: picnic spots, lakes, gardens, trees, grass, dirt and so on. But more than that, you’ll find some choice trails that are guaranteed to satisfy. If you end up taking the Seaview/Big Springs Loop, you’ll be treated to some spectacular views of the City (assuming of course the sky is clear, but that goes without saying in this area). In fact, from certain vantage points you’ll be able to gaze upon all the major landmarks in the Bay and even see as far as Marin County. All in all the hike is very doable if you are a run-of-the-mill human. Not a fan of walking but still enjoy a solid view? Well first of all congratulations because you’re officially lazier than even I, and secondly there is an option for people like you to simply drive to Grizzly Peak to experience the scenic beauty of the Bay without, you know, exerting any effort.
The Brewery: Fieldwork Brewing Co (15 minutes from the hike) - Fieldwork happens to be one of my favorite local brews at the moment, simply because they rarely miss the mark. After hitting the scene in 2015, Fieldwork quickly established itself as a powerhouse across all styles. Most recently, their hazy IPAs—like King Citra and Pulp—and their stouts—like Imperial Hot Chocolate and the Baker—have kept Fieldwork at the top of any beer lover's list. Bonus points for offering hefty taster pours and some surprisingly good bar bites. Furthermore, if you tend to enjoy experimental beers and you don’t mind finding a few unique ingredients in your suds (think: ginger, cayenne pepper, French chicory and kiwi to name a few), then Fieldwork is for you. Not to mention they have a moderately sized tasting room and a clientele that won’t pass judgement on your rugged, just-finished-a-sweaty-hike appearance.
Bonus brewery: The Rare Barrel (19 minute drive from the hike) - I would be remiss if I didn’t call out The Rare Barrel. That said, I kept them out of my top recommendation for Berkeley because I realize sour beers can be quite polarizing, especially after completing a rigorous hike. Nevertheless, Rare Barrel was founded by two former Bruery employees who now focus solely on perfecting the art of the sour beer. The tasting area is roomy, and their beautifully complex beers are unlike any you’ve likely tried. Get your palate tingling by trying a dark sour beer aged in oak barrels with blackberries, or their golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with apricots. Not a fan of sours but open to new experiences? Here’s a protip: For next 2 weeks, start off every morning with a cold glass of Rare Barrel Map of the Moon. Over time, you’ll begin to develop a strong affinity for that mouth puckering taste and viola—one day you’ll wake up and realize you can’t go a morning without one. Success!
2. Joaquin Miller Park and Drake’s Dealership - Temuscal
The Hike: Sunset Trail/Cinderella/Sequoia Bayview (3.4 miles). I’m a big fan of Joaquin Miller Park. Like Tilden, you have yet another park that has many trails to choose from, which means you can go back numerous times and always find a new trail or combination of trails to explore. Each hike is brimming with beauty, boasting miles of redwood trees, creek beds, stunning views of the Bay and even the occasional woodland creature. I’ve read some complaints about urban noise distracting from the “lost in the woods” appeal, but for those of us who are city dwellers you may be used to tuning out the occasional helicopter circling overhead. I personally love the Sequoia Bayview trail the most for its towering, creaking trees and of course, the bay views. Cinderella is also nice if you’re looking for a more intimate trail with lots of wildflowers (I wouldn’t call myself a flower guy, but these pedals are dope, yo). Keep in mind Joaquin Miller is a popular spot, so the trail can get a tad crowded at times. Be on the lookout for mountain bikers who seemingly materialize out of nowhere, sending you diving for the trail banks.
The Brewery: Drake’s Dealership (14 minute drive from the hike) Drake’s Dealership (not to be confused with their other location in San Leandro) is one of my favorite newish venues to have a beer, especially if you can find a spot in their open-air beer garden. A converted Dodge dealership, you’ll notice some artifacts that have been left in place from the original dealership such as garage doors and painted signage covering the brick walls. (Hard to forgive is the noticeable lack of a giant inflatable gorilla sitting out front, but I hope to someday get over that.) Most importantly, the space is huge—over 10,000ft to be specific. Oh, did I mention they offer about 32 excellent beer on tap? Not only will you find their old standbys (Denogginizer, Drakonic, the Hopocalypse line), but you’ll have a chance to try some of their limited and experimental release brews from their barrel programs. As Jake, the resident beer expert at Eventbrite likes to say, “Drake’s has widespread appeal: from newbies to the craft beer scene to even your snobbiest of beer snobs—everyone is welcome at Drake’s!”
3. Forest of Nisene Marks and Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
The Hike: The Buddha Loop Trail (5.7 Miles). Are you looking to take your inner peace levels to new heights? Well then let me suggest to you the Buddha Trail, which is not only a gorgeous hike in its own right, but it’s also home to a legit Buddha Temple. The hike itself is relatively easy, albeit longer than the rest of the hikes on this list and even a little confusing at times. Beyond that, prepare to be awakened as you encounter river beds, redwoods, banana slugs (obvs), and plenty of eye candy at the “Land of Medicine” at the end (Sidenote: You may have noticed by now this author cannot be satisfied by the beauty of the outdoors alone. If you’re a park owner and your trails don’t end with an award-winning view, a certificate of completion, a coupon for half-off appetizers at the nearest Applebee’s, or a Buddha Temple, then step it up!)
The Brewery: Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (12 minute drive from the hike). Oh man, Sante Adairius! Talk about a little slice of heaven. Tucked in an unassuming corner of Capitola, near Santa Cruz, they call their approach to beer-making one of “whimsy, highly inspired by the Belgian tradition,” which makes me feel like I’m not getting enough whimsy in my diet. As such, this brewery has nailed down everything from IPAs to Lagers to Stouts. Where they really shine, however, is with their saisons and sours. Start with any of their barrel aged stuff to get into the Sante rhythm. Saison Bernice is always a lightly tart, citrusy treat. Also don’t forget to try their fruited sours, specifically the apricot infused West Ashley. Seriously, it confounds me the high quality product these guys are putting out so regularly, and if you haven’t made a pilgrimage here yet, I highly advise you do. Your life will never be the same.
4. Jack London State Park and Lagunitas
The Hike: Jack London State Historic Park Trail (3 miles): This hike is on the shorter side, yet it’s chock full of interesting history. From start to finish, you’ll find structures and points of interest associated with Mr. White Fang himself, Jack London. Additionally, you get a bit of everything on this hike: vineyard views, lakes, wooded growth, and if you go on the Ancient Redwood trail, you’ll encounter a tree that’s like, a million years old. (Don’t fact check me on this, just go with it. Everything is going to be ok.) Unfortunately when I went hiking here the Upper Lake was dried up, which was a shame, but given the annoyingly bountiful amount of rain we’ve experienced at the time of writing, it should hopefully be replenished. Note that there are over 10 miles of trails in the park, so if this hike doesn’t do it for you, you have other options. Another interesting tidbit: No joke, when I went hiking here a year ago I was blindsided by a small group of benevolent naked hikers. Not sure if that was a one-time occurrence, a vivid dream, or some ode to “Call of the Wild” that went completely lost on me, but if you’re into sorta thing then let me tell ya, this is the hike for you!
The Brewery: Lagunitas Brewery (35 minute drive from the hike) - I tried to keep these hikes within 30 minutes of each brewery, but alas, there was no way around this one. Luckily there’s plenty of wine to drink in the area if you need a holdover until you get to Petaluma. Anywho, if you’re like me, you’ve probably had enough Lagunitases (Laguniti?) to last a lifetime. Sure, you can find them in just about any corner store you stumble into these days, but a visit to the brewery up north is nevertheless worth it. The property is expansive with plenty of room to lay out on the grass and drink a beer and watch some live music, or hang out in the partially covered picnic area and drink a beer and watch live music. They’ve made this place into quite the day-killer experience, and plus you’ll be able to try a lot of styles that you can’t get at the Serv-U-Mart. Like every brewery tasting room, you’ll always find the core beers like your Little Sumpin' Sumpin’s and Hop Stoopids, but if you’re in the mood for something different, then check out their seasonal beers. Some of my favs are their High West-ified line or any of their offensively hoppy stuff like Waldo’s, which you can smell across the room. The food is pretty dec too, so if you’ve worked up an appetite after walking around learning about history and stuff, then Lagunitas is your spot.
5. Land’s End and Cellarmaker
The Hike: Lands End Trail (3.5 mile hike). I can hear the groans now! Yes, if you’re from SF or have lived here for at least a month, then it’s likely you’ve done this trail before. But the point of this list is not necessarily to introduce hidden gems, but rather find the perfect pairing of hike to beer, remember? Anyway, despite how many times I’ve done this hike I still think it’s legendary. Great views of the bay from beginning to end, lots of lookout spots to take postcard-worthy pics and helpful placards to explain some of the important history along the way, this is a great way to introduce out-of-towners to the beauty of the Bay! Not to mention you can knock a few things off the SF bucket list by checking out the sutro baths and a mini cave while you’re there! I personally like to visit around sunset because I’m a sucker for a dazzling sky.
The Brewery: Cellarmaker (28 minute drive from the hike). Saved the best for last! If you haven’t been to Cellarmaker yet, then stop reading right now and go there. For those who have been, you’ll know that Connor and Tim, Marin Brewing alumni, have been cranking out some of San Francisco's finest hoppy beers as of late. Double Dobis, a 100% citra hopped double IPA, is among their best, and if you aren't in the mood for something hoppy, be sure to grab a pour of their smoked coffee porter, Coffee and Cigarettes. Need something stronger? I personally reach for a glass of Evil Spread, which is so strong they’ll only give you a thimble sized pour—but totally worth it! Other than that, my only complaint is that space is quite limited. How about cellarmaking your space bigger? I’ll see myself out.
Bonus brewery: Barebottle Brewing Company (26 minute drive from the hike). While I still give the crown to Cellarmaker for the best brewery in the city limits, I want to give an honorable mention to Barebottle. They’re not only consistently serving some solid stuff, but their space wins the prize for “most tasting room activities.” Sure, you have to travel a little further to get to it within the city, but once you’re there you’ll have plenty of room to stretch out, play some ping pong, toss some beanbags, and even chow down on some grub from one of their rotating food trucks.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking to explore a new buzz, or you’re a beer enthusiast looking to venture outside of your living room, then I hope you’ll consider this list of trails and ales. In the meantime, be on the lookout for my next post titled “Tequila Tasting Rooms and the Extreme Sports to Attempt Afterwards.“ (Just kidding, most likely).
Something missing on this list that you can’t wait to scream in my face? Tell us about some of your favorite hikes (and pints) below!