Autumn is here in Northern California, and the region teems with spots for fall hikes, from trails leading to waterfalls spilling onto the beach, to treks meandering into ancient redwood forests. Some of our favorites:
Alamere Falls: Ever seen a waterfall that tumbles off a cliff and into the sea? Alamere Falls, in Bolinas, does just that. The hike along the Coast Trail begins from the Palomarin trailhead and meanders about 4 miles to a cliff overlooking the Pacific. Not maintained by the park, the trail may be difficult in some parts, but the views of the falls and the ocean at Point Reyes National Seashore are worth it.
Armstrong Woods State Park: This reserve of coast redwood trees, the tallest living things on the planet, offers easy to advanced hikes. Those seeking a quick-and-easy route to view the famous (and oldest) tree in the grove—the Colonel Armstrong Tree (over 1,400 years old)—take the 1-mile Pioneer Trail, while more prepared hikers opt for numerous moderate- to advanced-level treks deeper into the grove.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: This coastal park, named after a pioneering woman of Big Sur, is home to another splendid waterfall-by-the-sea—stroll along a short, easy walk on Overlook Trail leading to a view of 80-foot McWay Falls, which drops from granite cliffs into the Pacific. In December and January, the bench at the trail’s end is a good spot to watch for gray whales migrating down to Baja California.
Tennessee Valley Beach: Tennessee Valley has hikes fitting for the whole family—the Tennessee Valley Trail starts near the parking lot and meanders about 1.7 miles to Tennessee Beach. The area is full of wildlife, from raptors circling above to deer and coyote roaming about.
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park: Drive seven miles north of Calistoga to this park to climb Mount St. Helena, where you’ll be rewarded with stellar views of the San Francisco Bay Area. The trek is five miles to the top, but on clear days you can see Mt. Shasta, nearly 200 miles away.
Want to discover more trails and treks nearby? Peruse these spots for fall hiking in Northern California.