Okay, I’m going to let the cat out of the bag and share my favorite hiking spots with you.
Mount Tamalpais East Peak
This is the most scenic peak in the bay area that I know of. You see the whole bay area (SF, Oakland, Richmond, Angel Island, Sausalito, etc) if the skies are clear. It’s an easy hike at the top after parking. Make sure you bring $8 in cash to use the parking area.
Mount Diablo Fire Interpretive Trail
Mount Diablo State Park is very interesting. The peak has a Summit Visitors Center with information on the park, and a gift shop. You certainly want to visit the peak and take the Mary Bowerman Trail Loop
On your way in or out of the park, I recommend that you take South Gate Road so that you can visit the Rock City section of the park that includes beautiful features such as the Wind Caves, Elephant Rock, Sentinel Rock, Artist Point and Fossil Ridge.
I only list this because it’s a simple hike that I can walk to from where I live. I’ve marked a good place that usually has street parking in the map link above, with the entrance to the park nearby.
I usually only take the trail to the top lookout point that has a park bench overlooking Berkeley and Oakland. I have yet to go much further to see what else the park offers.
On your way up there is a lookout spot with Eucalyptus trees, which is a nice first stage lookout point.
Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve
I like this park a lot. There are multiple paths you can take. One leads to the top of a peak (Round Top) with a cell phone tower. It’s not an easy hike, but you end up getting really good cell reception up there.
I recommend taking one of the other trails, such as Round Top Loop Trail to Volcanic Trail to Skyline Trail
You might run into cows, and also get really nice views of Lafayette to the east of the park.
San Bruno Summit Loop
Beautiful views of San Francisco and the bay. I’ve marked a nice place to park on the map, which has recently been named “Crocker Gate Trail Head”.
This is next to a neighborhood, but usually has lots of spaces for parking. Some people might even find themselves coming here at night to walk amongst racoons, skunks, and howling coyotes.