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San Bruno Mountain

San Bruno Mountain

San Bruno Mountain

San Bruno Mountain

San Bruno Mountain

San Bruno Mountain State Park has outstanding views of San Francisco, the Pacific out to the Farallon Islands and much of the bay. We did the three mile summit loop (the wrong way round, San Bruno pros do it counter-clockwise).

Hike starts at 37.6888964,-122.437008 (Google Earth).

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Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles is the newest National Park which features various hikes to Talus Caves (formed by rockfalls into a valley) which are fun to scramble through as long as you don't think about the formation process while you do it.

Hike starts at 36.4943003, -121.173081 (Google Earth).

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Devil's Slide Trail

Devil's Slide Trail

Devil's Slide Trail

Devil's Slide Trail used to be one of the most scenic stretches of Highway 1. It was hard to enjoy though while you were trying not to crash and die. Now it's a leisurely stroll with magnificent views and well worth a visit.

Hike starts at 37.5852899, -122.5098668 (Google Earth).

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Armstrong Redwoods

Armstrong Redwoods

Armstrong Redwoods

Armstrong Redwoods

Coastal redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Parson Jones is over 310 feet high, Colonel Armstrong over 1,400 years old.

Hike starts at 38.532406, -123.002853 (Google Earth, Google Maps).

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Salt Point State Park

Salt Point State Park

Salt Point State Park

Salt Point State Park

Salt Point State Park

Salt Point State Park on the Sonoma coast. Stunning views, plentiful seals and some cool tide pools (although the rocks on the way down are like greased butter). Apparently the sandstone from Salt Point was used to pave San Francisco which goes a long way to explain the state of the streets...

Hike starts at 38.566568, -123.331860 (Google Earth, Google Maps).

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Wave Organ

The Wave Organ

Like the Internet, The Wave Organ is a series of tubes. Unlike the Internet it groans at you in different ways as the tide comes in and out. It’s also a nice walk on a blustery day with great views around the bay and back over to the Marina.

Kate at The Wave Organ in San Francisco

(Google Earth KML, Google Maps)

Hike starts at: 37.806707, -122.446921.

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Sweeney Ridge

Sweeney Ridge, starting from Skyline College and walking up to the Portola Expedition Monument and back again.

(Google Earth KML)

Hike starts at: 37.62864, -122.463666.

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Sentinel Dome

Sentinel Dome Route

Slightly easier than Half Dome, and when you get to the top you get to look at Half Dome. What more could you ask for!

Rob & Kate approaching the top of Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park

(View in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.715495, -119.584577.

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Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve is an East Bay park spanning more than five thousand acres.

I spotted what looked like an easy four mile loop. It was nearly seven, I guess all the .3’s really do add up. The loop we did was a mix of exposed sunny ridgelines and shady canyons. We went on a ‘cold’ day which was still high 80s and a nice sweltering break from the San Francisco fog.

Kate; Jim's Place

Kate taking a break outside of ‘Jim’s Place’.

Gill & Kate

Gill and Kate, again outside of' ‘Jim’s Place’.

Gill; Pittsburg an the California Delta

Gill with a view to Pittsburg and the California Delta.

(View in Google Earth (KML))

Hike starts at: 37.958487, -121.862883.

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Lake Merritt

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA Hike on May 5, 2011

The path around Lake Merritt is a pleasant hour-ish hike in downtown Oakland. In addition to a startling variety of waterfowl (apparently it’s the first official wildlife refuge in the US) Lake Merritt is the home of Fairyland which I fear I may be forced to visit in the not to distant future.

Birds at Lake Merritt

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

(3.76 miles, 1 hour 2 minutes, average 3.64 mph, view in Google Earth).

Hike starts at: 37.808922, -122.263224.

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Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

Not much of a hike, but Twin Peaks is about as high as you can get in San Francisco and offers wonderful views on a clear day or night. Park here and then escape the throngs by walking up one or both of the peaks.

Rob and Kate at the top of Twin Peaks in San Francisco
We often take guests from out of town up Twin Peaks. The occasion today was a first visit for a new native San Franciscan – Katherine Harper Ellison – seven days old on her first trip up to the top of Noe Peak.

Red-tailed Hawk above Twin Peaks in San Francisco 
A Red-tailed Hawk hunting over Twin Peaks.

(.49 miles, total elevation gain 201 feet, 25 minutes, average 1.17 mph, view in Google Earth.)

Hike starts at: 37.754849, -122.446607.

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Golden Gate Park - Stow Lake, Stawberry Hill and Museum Concourse

Golden Gate Park - Stow Lake, Stawberry Hill and Museum Concourse

An alternative to our normal loop is another three mile walk starting from JFK and Transverse. Instead of heading towards the beach walk up under the bridge and take the first right to Stow Lake.

Stow Lake
Stow Lake surrounds Strawberry Hill. There's a path around the lake with two bridges leading to the hill. I normally walk to one bridge, cross and then up to the top of the hill. It's generally pretty quiet with great city and ocean views in between the trees.

Top of Strawberry Hill in the middle of Stow Lake
View from the top of Strawberry Hill. Rudy is in there somewhere, click for a larger version.

de Young Museum
After the hill I walk over to the Museum Concourse. The de Young rises through the trees like an implausibly stranded copper aircraft carrier. It hosts a range of paintings, decorative art, sculpture and modern art. You're bound to find something you like here.

de Young Museum (Side)
The copper cladding will turn green eventually, probably before the new Bay Bridge span is finished.

California Academy of Sciences
Opposite the de Young is the California Academy of Sciences. The Academy features an outstanding digital planetarium, a three story rainforest and an aquarium. It reopened last year after a major rebuild and it's insanely popular - get there first thing to snag the first come first served planetarium tickets.

Prayerbook Cross
On the way back I detoured up to Prayerbook Cross, donated in 1894 to commemorate the first English sermon on the pacific coast after Sir Francis Drake discovered Drake's Bay (a name which didn't stick).

(2.97 miles, total elevation gain 103 feet, 1 hours, 17 minutes, average 2.29 mph, view in Google Earth, view in Google Maps.)

Hike starts at: 37.770433, -122.479941.

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Lake Merced

Lake Merced

Lake Merced is a natural lake near Fort Funston. It used to be San Francisco's main fresh water supply but is now the emergency reserve (somewhat worrying as a previous earthquake caused much of Lake Merced to drain into the Pacific).

The lake is also the site of the Terry/Broderick duel where in 1859 the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court (Terry) killed a US Senator (Broderick) in an argument over slavery.

The loop around the lake is a flat five mile path, unfortunately marred by heavy traffic and constant gunfire from clay pigeon shooting and/or the SFPD firing range.

Rob and Rudy at Lake Merced
Rob and Rudy at Lake Merced.

Penguin's Prayer
Gill and Rudy next to a sculpture called "Penguin's Prayer". Given the latitude I expect the penguin is praying for the next ice age.

(4.85 miles, total elevation gain 0 feet, 1 hour, 39 minutes, average 2.93 mph, view in Google Earth, view in Google Maps.)

Hike starts at: 37.712302, -122.489232.

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Año Nuevo

Año Nuevo

We decided to visit Año Nuevo State Natural Reserve today because it's one of the hundreds of California state parks threatened with closure by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts.

The main attraction of Año Nuevo is the presence of a large colony of elephant seals. At this time of the year you walk a couple of miles where volunteers are available to answer questions and lend binoculars. In the breeding season between December and March you need to book a guided walk at least a day in advance - or at least you will if the park survives.



(As well as my video, check out the streaming Sealcam on Año Nuevo Island.)

Elephant Seals at Año Nuevo
Elephant Seals at Año Nuevo.

Gill with Año Nuevo Island in the background
Gill, with Año Nuevo Island in the background. You can see the ruins of a lighthouse on the island (click the image for a larger version). The original name dating back to 1603 is La Punta de Año Nuevo or New Year's Point (much erosion since then).

A Lizard
One of many lizards encountered on the trail.

(4.18 miles, total elevation gain 268 feet, 1 hour, 48 minutes, average 2.32 mph, view in Google Earth, view in Google Maps.)

Hike starts at: 37.12086, -122.307237.

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Point Reyes - Tomales Point

Tomales Point in Google Earth

Tomales Point is a ten mile hike in Point Reyes. The trailhead is at the end of Pierce Point Road. It's my least favorite topological combination - the trail is mostly downhill on the way out and at the end you turn around and come back. It's worth it for the views of Tomales Bay and the Pacific, also for the flora and fauna along the way.

We did this hike a few years ago with my parents, thinking that we'd avoid some approaching rain. Of course the heavens opened as soon as we reached Tomales Point and it rained solidly for the five mile return leg. I remember emptying water out of boots and pockets and then steaming up the car for the two hour drive back to San Francisco.

Long-tailed Weasel
A Long-tailed Weasel at the start of the trail. It kept running away and then coming back to take another look at us. Very cute.

Rob & Gill at Tomales Point
Rob and Gill at Tomales Point. It was too windy to find a spot to get the camera to take a photo of both of us at the same time. Tomales Point looks out to Bodega Bay where The Birds was filmed.

Some sort of silver thistle thing
This plant looks like a silver thistle with a bright red flower. If you know what it is please leave a comment and let us know! Lots of people were in garden-center mode for the hike, admiring the incredible variety of spring flowers along the trail.

Turkey Vulture
A Turkey Vulture, hoping that we don't make it all the way back to the car...

Tule Elk
Tule Elk, native to California and slowly recovering from near-extinction in the late 19th century.

(9.77 miles, total elevation gain 241 feet, 3 hours, 39 minutes, average 2.67 mph, view in Google Earth, view in Google Maps.)

Hike starts at: 38.189931, -122.955497.

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Lands End

Lands End

Lands End to Eagle's Point is a stunning section of the Coastal Trail. Park in or near the new lot at Point Lobos Ave and El Camino del Mar. Before or after the walk check out the ruins of Sutro Baths. I'd put some of that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act cash into rebuilding the baths, it looks like they were incredible.

Sutro Baths

If you follow the trial down the the baths then there's a short but very cool cave to explore which ends in another unique view of the pacific and the mouth of the Golden Gate.

Golden Gate Bridge

From Sutro Baths follow signs to Eagle's point. There are some very steep cliffs along the trail, so a leash is a really good idea for dogs.

Rudy & Gill on the coast trail

One worthwhile detour is to wonder down to Mile Rock Beach. It's a stony and impressively violent beach with a couple of lookouts on the way down with impressive views.

Rob & Rudy at Mile Rock Beach

(3.16 miles, total elevation gain 457 feet, 1 hours, 24 minutes, average 2.24 mph, view in Google Earth, view in Google Maps)

Hike starts at: 37.783491, -122.510793.

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Buena Vista Park

Buena Vista Park in Google Earth

Buena Vista Park is a small but dramatic park above Haight-Ashbury.

Buena Vista Park

I usually start at Buena Vista Ave and Upper Terrace. Walk up the large path which meanders to a small lawn at the top of the park.

View from Buena Vista Park

From the lawn walk down through the maze of paths. It's a densely wooded park but every time you walk round a corner you're treated to a different city view peeking through the trees.

View from Buena Vista Park

(0.96 miles, total elevation gain 576 feet, 24 minutes, average 2.40 mph, view in Google Earth, view in Google Maps)

Hike starts at: 37.766248, -122.442906.

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About Hikes

Hikes indulges my passions for walking and being uncontrollably geeky. I love recording a walk and then looking at it in Google Earth. It's a great way to get context for a walk that isn't always obvious while you're wandering around.

I started the blog with a pretty complex setup. For a hike I'd take my Magellan eXplorist 500 GPS and a point and shoot digital camera (currently the excellent Canon PowerShot SD700 IS). After the hike I'd use a program I knocked up to compile stats from the GPS track log, and GPSBabel to convert the track log to Google Earth KML. Then I'd resize images and write a blog post.

This works well for longer hikes but it's a bit painful for shorter ones. I've got an AT&T Tilt phone which has a pretty decent camera and GPS built in, so over the Christmas holiday this year I wrote a tracking application for the phone. This app is now available as freeware (Catfood Tracker). As well as tracking your location it also generates a KML file and hike statistics at the end of a walk. Perfect. See Golden Gate Park Loop for a hike recorded entirely on the Tilt.

With an easier tracking option available I aim to blog about more hikes in 2009. I've also added an interactive map to the blog, which shows all the posts in Google Maps. This page is generated from the blog RSS feed, with a marker placed on the map at the first track point of each hike.

(Updated September 26, 2010: I've upgraded from the Tilt to an Android phone and so I've started using My Tracks from Google to record shorter hikes. This blog has also moved from Blogger to BlogEngine.NET. I've just written an extension to geotag posts so you'll see a Google Maps link to start of each hike at the bottom of every post (as well as some additional metadata to help locate posts in geo-aware searches).

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Golden Gate Park Loop

Golden Gate Park loop in Google Earth

This gentle three mile loop is our favorite walk in the Golden Gate Park. Start at JFK and Transverse and walk down JFK to 30th Avenue. Turn right at 30th and then left onto a metaled path before you exit the path. The path takes you to Spreckels Lake.

Turtles
At Spreckels Lake it's turtles all the way down...

Walk halfway round the Lake and then head off behind the bison paddock (over 36th Avenue and then to the right of the restrooms). You'll pass one of two enclosed off-leash dog areas in the park.

Buffalo

Follow the path right round the paddock and then cross JFK at Chain of Lakes Drive. Immediately turn left on a small path that runs behind Middle Lake. This is a quiet area of the path where we've seen skunks and a lone coyote (although fortunately not at the same time). When you hit a T junction turn left and follow the path behind the angling pond and up to the Polo Fields. Keep going and you'll reach Speedway Meadow.

Rudy at Speedway Meadow

Follow the path beside Speedway Meadow back up to JFK and then on to the starting point at Transverse.

(2.80 miles, 1 hour, 6 minutes, average 2.53 mph, view in
Google Earth, view in Google Maps)

Hike starts at: 37.770814, -122.48021.

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Crissy Field

Chrisy Field in Google Earth

Crissy Field, part of the Golden Gate National Parks, is a recently restored stretch of beach and parkland next to the bay. It's a very popular place to take dogs for a good swim. Currently there is a big debate about dogs in the national parks - see Dog Management at the GGNRA site and SF Dog.

If the weather is vaguely nice then the beaches at Chrissy Field get pretty packed. We go to Fort Funston most weekends, and save Chrissy Field for when the sea is too rough or (like today) when we just can't face climbing back up the sand ladder.

Alcatraz from Chrissy Field
Alcatraz

Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field
Golden Gate Bridge

(0.55 miles, total elevation gain 3 feet, 45 minutes, average 0.72 mph, view in Google Earth, view in Google Maps.)

Hike starts at: 37.806083, -122.450172.

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Fort Funston in the rain


(view in Google Earth).

This is the short version of our Fort Funston walk (the long version is here). Depending on the tide and the height of the sand it's sometimes not easy to get past a couple of sewage outlet pipes. Today's walk was wet with a high tide so we turned left at the bottom of the sand ladder and just walked along the beach and back. The longer version is to turn right and complete a three mile loop.



Hike starts at: 37.714211, -122.502257383333.

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Glen Park Canyon



Glen Park Canyon is a short city hike - the trail gets increasingly dense as you walk into the canyon until you need to limbo your way under branches.

(1.51 miles, total elevation gain 909 feet, 47 minutes (average 1.92 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.737133, -122.442133.

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Sunol Wilderness



Really Hot!

(4.81 miles, total elevation gain 1,791 feet, 3 hours 30 minutes (average 1.37 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.510183, -121.8284.

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Bon Tempe Lake



(3.98 miles, total elevation gain 1,306 feet, 1 hour 40 minutes (average 2.39 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.958717, -122.6088.

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Fallen Leaf Lake














A quick outing to Fallen Leaf Lake (close to Lake Tahoe) while skiing over the New Year.


















(3.97 miles, total elevation gain 738 feet, 1 hour 36 minutes (average 2.49 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 38.905, -120.022733.

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Oakland Hills (Longer Walk)








Longer walk in the Oakland Hills, up the East ridge and then back down the West ridge.

















(8.63 miles, total elevation gain 3,976 feet, 3 hours 1 minutes (average 2.86 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.806533, -122.148783.

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Fort Funston














Fort Funston was part of San Francisco's WWII era coastal defenses and is now a dog friendly part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
















Rudy pegs it down Sand Ladder Trail - the easiest way down to the beach but no so much fun on the way back up.















Battery Davis.



















(2.62 miles, total elevation gain 417 feet, 1 hour 25 minutes (average 1.84 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.714383, -122.502167.

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Las Trampas Wilderness













Las Trampas (the Traps - for elk apparently) is a steep climb up to a gorgeous ridge followed by a slow wind back to the staging area. We wimped out of adding a detour to Devil's Hole due to the heat and the advice of a fellow hiker.
















Rudy and Gill with Mt. Diablo in the background.















Rudy, forced to walk up the hill again just for a photo.

(4.86 miles, total elevation gain 2,920 feet, 2 hours 7 minutes (average 2.29 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.816233, -122.051267.

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Golden Gate Park


A quick walk around the Golden Gate park, past the Buffalo paddock and stadium.


I only had the camera phone, so this is a very blury picture.


And there are some turtles on this tree, really!


(3.32 miles, total elevation gain 915 feet, 1 hour 14 minutes (average 2.68 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.771517, -122.474917.

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Oakland Hills

Quick walk around the Oakland Hills, no photos this time.


(4.68 miles, total elevation gain 2,697 feet, 2 hours 3 minutes (average 2.28 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.830983, -122.18615.

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Point Reyes - Drakes Estero



A pleasant, undulating hike along Drakes Estero (see north district trails, PDF) to Sunset Beach and back.


Gill illustrates the length of Drakes Estero.


Rob slowly sinking into the mud on Sunset Beach.


I think this is a striped shore crab, saw a couple of these guarding the approach to the beach.

(7.71 miles, total elevation gain 1,594 feet, 2 hours 48 minutes (average 2.76 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 38.081683, -122.9142.

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Hill 88




Hill 88 is a favorite walk when the Marin headlands are free from fog. Starting from Fort Cronkhite the Coastal Trail winds up to Hill 88 at 960ft, past various WWII era coastal defenses. Cross the ridge and descend down Wolf Ridge Trail and Miwok Trail to complete a 4.5 mile loop.



Rodeo Beach viewed from the Coastal Trail. As you ascend there are views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.


Battery Townsley, one of several coastal defenses passed on the walk.


View of Mount Tamalpais as you begin to descend Wolf Ridge Trail.

(4.56 miles, total elevation gain 1,142 feet, 1 hour 38 minutes (average 2.79 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.832683, -122.526217.

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Bernal Hill

Bernal Hill

Closest walk from home is a quick trip round Bernal Hill for views of downtown San Francisco and three bridges.

(0.83 miles, total elevation gain 292 feet, 23 minutes (average 2.12 mph), view in Google Earth)

Hike starts at: 37.74355, -122.417583.

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I Thought He Came With You

Robert Ellison's Blog

7,250,102,861 people still need to read this blog.

Catfood Software downloads are now on I Thought He Came With You

Catfood Software downloads are now on I Thought He Came With You