4 Short and Sweet Solstice Hikes and Bikes

Dec 17th, 2019

Just because the days are short, doesn’t mean you can’t fit in a little time outside. Explore the Ridge Trail with these four short and sweet outings–perfect for a quick respite from the holiday bustle. A great introduction to discovering your local wild on the Ridge Trail and fun for people of all ages.

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1. Tilden Regional Park
County: Alameda
Mileage: 1.8 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: Easy
This out and back hike starts at the Seaview trailhead in Tilden Park near Berkeley. The Seaview trail to Vollmer Peak offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels.  Dogs on leash are allowed. Explore the wilderness through eucalyptus and redwoods groves. Benches along the route offer opportunities to take in vistas of the East Bay Hills and San Francisco. Want something more? Plenty of extended treks are available.

If you do this hike on a Saturday, and you have any train enthusiasts in your group, be sure to visit Redwood Valley Railway (Tilden Steam Train.)  The train is across the street from Seaview Trailhead and costs $3 per person. On December 19th and 20th of this year, Winterfest (holiday lights and crew in period costume) is taking place. The trains are running from 11 am – 7 pm.
Ridge Trail Tilden Park map including Inspiration Point and Steam Trains
Ridge Trail Tilden map on OuterSpatial
East Bay Regional Parks District map

2. Christmas Tree Farm Trail
County: Santa Clara
Mileage: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Starting at the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve/Horseshoe Lake main parking lot, take the Horseshoe Loop trailhead, make a left at the first intersection of the Horse Loop Trail. Follow the trail 0.4 miles, then turn left and follow the Tree Farm Trail 0.6 miles through the Skyline Ranch Tree Farm. This part of Skyline Ridge Preserve is scattered with the remains of an old Christmas tree farm. From 2003-2010, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District worked to restore this habitat. Many of those old trees still remain, and hikers can enjoy a unique view of coastal hillsides dotted with oversized Christmas trees.

If you don’t get your fill, the trail continues through the Skyline Ranch Tree Farm – a family-owned business that began in 1958 and continues to operate on 63 acres, where you can harvest your very own Christmas tree.
Ridge Trail Skyline and Russian Ridge Map
Ridge Trail Skyline map on OuterSpatial App

3. Helen Putnam Park
County: Sonoma
Mileage: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
This hike begins at the south trailhead on Chileno Valley Road near the playground, bathrooms, and picnic area.  Expect to cross grassy hillsides, weave through oak woodlands, and pass coast live oaks, coyote brush, and California buckwheat. Ridge-top trails provide panoramic views of Petaluma and the southern Sonoma County countryside. The trail ends at the bottom of the hill at Oxford Court.
Ridge Trail Helen Putman and Petaluma Map
Ridge Trail Helen Putnam map on OuterSpatial App

4. Mount Sutro Clarendon Loop
County: San Francisco
Mileage: 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and step into a fantastic San Francisco oasis on Mount Sutro. Take in views through the eucalyptus of Golden Gate Park, the Sunset & Richmond neighborhoods, and the Marin Headlands. Start at the Stanyan and 17th St. trailhead, hike along the Historic Trail towards Clarendon Trail. Return via the Fairy Gates Trail, back to the Historic Trail, and back to the Stanyan trailhead.  Let your kids burn their extra energy off at nearby Grattan Playground.
Ridge Trail Stern Grove to Presidio Map
Ridge Trail San Francisco map on OuterSpatial App
Mount Sutro Open Space Preserve

Looking for more curated adventures? Check out the Official Guide Book to the Bay Area Ridge Trail – it’s packed full of useful information for planning hikes, backpacking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trips with maps, detailed trail descriptions, curated trips and more.


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