Our Favorite Bay Area Nature Spots to Explore This Summer
It has finally stopped raining (we hope) and the summer solstice is almost upon us. It’s time to emerge from our bunkers and get out in the California sunshine and fresh air.
We asked members of WEN’s board to share their favorite locations for enjoying the outdoors in the Bay Area. We hope these testimonials inspire you to do the same!
Anya Deepak enjoys birding in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. “As an amateur birder, it is heartening to see a variety of species in such a small area,” she says. “The birds lead you to lesser-used areas of the park, so if you need some space and quiet it provides that, too.” She appreciates how easy it is for anyone to participate. “It needs no prior knowledge; join a birding group like the Audubon Society,” she adds. “That’s it! At first you don’t even need binoculars or special cameras. There are always experts nearby, and if you’re flying solo (get it?), you can use the Merlin Bird ID app to figure out what you just saw.”
Alison Brown combines her love of the outdoors with her passion for landscape and nature photography. “I get to utilize my creative thinking, go out in nature—I usually hike as well—and take photographs of beautiful places that mean a lot to me as a native Bay Area resident,” she says. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t own professional equipment. “You can take beautiful photos even with your cell phone! Why not try?”
Outgoing board member Sandra Lupien suggests exploring anywhere in the East Bay Regional Parks District, but a recent outing stood out. “I had an awesome weekend backpacking in the Sunol and Ohlone Wilderness Areas,” she says. “I loved being able to do a 2-night trek across challenging terrain in a beautiful landscape.” There were lots of wildlife sightings, too—three coyotes, a fox, and a wide array of bird species. “It is incredible to me that it’s possible to totally get away into the wilderness, right in the thick of the Bay Area—and it’s easy to access by BART/bike!”
Being especially fond of the East Bay Regional Parks comes easily to Ruby Tumber. “I work here!” she says of the largest urban regional park district in the United States. “You’d be surprised how close a beautiful, serene redwood forest is to the center of a big, bustling city.”
Paula Swiatkowski favors hiking in the specific park referenced above by Ruby, Redwood Regional. “Walking among incredibly tall, old redwoods here is like being in a cathedral,” she says. “It gifts me with both external perspective from just being around these giants, and also a pathway to inner peace and calm. And there are lovely trails among the redwoods for folks of all hiking abilities.”
Lest we forget that hiking bounty exists outside the East Bay, Tara Holmes heads to Marin County for her fix. “Hiking Mt. Tam and stopping for a bite at the Mountain Home Inn after!” she exclaims. “Mt. Tam makes you feel like you’re worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Bay Area life, when in reality you’re a short 30-minute drive away. I love that dichotomy and, of course, love the beautiful trails, vistas, and smells (bay laurel anyone?) that envelop you on our journey.”
Whether you visit a familiar favorite or discover a new one (or both), we hope to see you outside this summer. Have a fabulous season, women of WEN!