Growing up in Napa we where so lucky to have tons of amazing hiking spots all over. These spots where not just dusty trails, we had frog mating grounds, rope swings, overgrown root trees you could hide in, waterfalls, huge redwood trees, rivers, and crystallized rocks with a view over all of Calistoga (north Napa Valley). It almost became a competition who could find the best hidden new spot. Trespassing was just protocol for some of the awesome waterfalls and ravines we tracked down. After all I still don’t like how we pimp out nature but that’s another story.
The other lucky part about growing up in Napa is some of the near by spots that where a short drive or believe it or not a hitch hike away. Like in the Berkeley Hills at Tilden Park with the kind of out of a horror movie marry go round and views of everything SF, don’t get me wrong trampling around University and Telegraph Ave is an awesome hike in itself.
Not much further the San Francisco parks are pretty well groomed but fun none the less. We used to prefer hanging out around Height Street in the little side parks and roaming the streets. Usually a day trip to Height Street meant a night in Santa Cruz, there was so many great places to hike around there I couldn’t start to list them. But as you may know the oldest living species is there (The Sequoia tree) not too mention some of the tallest Redwood trees in the world.
When we wanted a quick trip and someone nice enough was willing to drive everyone (usually me) we would head out to Bodega Bay where we would bury a beer ball under sand and cover the tap with a hat. We felt pretty clever at the time, it kept the beer cold all night and the police would just walk right past us. There we would build huge bonfires and roam the sand dunes and cliffs. There was an awesome river right up the road in GerneyVille where you could spend all day floating down and camp out for free on the coast. If you wanted to fish, North several miles was the Russian River and more awesome hiking at the Petrified Forrest. Not shortly after we burned out our local spots we found our favorite long term spot of all about two hours north by the Golden Gate bridge. Bolinas Beach was mind shattering, every weekend we would join parties with Live awesome Reggae bands and huge beach parties. I don’t know if it’s a nude beach but I remember waking up one time in the middle of the night and saw a naked girl on a white horse and she waved at me. The beach itself was clean and drama free, you could follow it for miles if you wanted a self proclaimed adventure.
Still to this day my favorite restaurant sits right next one of the funniest stories I have ever told. The Cliff House with it’s amazing sea food sits right next to a great park with old army bunkers you can enter and hike around all day if you want. One time when I wasn’t there my friends took a late night hike and didn’t factor in the tide which left them stranded on the wrong side of a rock stuck as the water was rising. Well they where saved, but by a helicopter lol sorry but that must of been really embarrassing to be carried by some dude to safety.
Groomed parks, urban roaming, or finding unspoiled hidden trails, hiking is something I will always appreciate and I believe it helps mold you with a greater appreciation for life.
By the way these hikes where all before I was 21, I would have to write a novel about the hikes in Jungles, rain forests, and distant mountains I have been fortunate enough to experience. Maybe another day ;0)