Hiking Trails

4 New Years Eve hikes in the Bay Area – with a bagel option


Loop hikes with healthy climbs and inspiring views are an invigorating way to start the new year and see the old one. Fresh winter air, a calming escape to nature, and a sense of accomplishment bring new perspectives – and the timing couldn’t be better. Newly clear winter vistas emerge from the foothills of the Coast Range, turning green and cooling after the last winter rains.

So get out there and greet the New Year on one of these hikes in Berkeley, Sunol, Morgan Hill, or Los Altos Hills.

Since New Years and bagels go hand in hand like butter and bread, I paired each hike with options to grab a bagel or breakfast nearby. One place in particular reminded me of the bagels from my childhood in New York – can you guess which one? (If you do this hike during the holidays, be sure to check the restaurant’s opening hours, as they may change.)

Berkeley Rose Garden and Stair Hike, Berkeley Hills

Berkeley’s rustic, leafy staircases, sandwiched between the houses of the Berkeley Hills and often draped in tree branches, vines and flowers, are a delightful gateway to parks, gardens and views over the Bay of San Francisco. The highlight of a staircase hike is the chance to discover small pockets of neighborhood, secret spots, hidden corners and surprise panoramas.

A New Years hike from the Berkeley Rose Garden, pictured, to Tilden Park explores Berkeley’s hidden stairway trails and expansive views. (Courtesy of Melissa Ozbek)

Pick up the full path and stair map from the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association ($ 12, berkeleypaths.org) to get started. You can join a walk with the BPWA or follow this 3.9 mile loop between the Berkeley Rose Garden and Tilden Regional Park for a workout on over a dozen stairs.

Start at the Berkeley Rose Garden, going up a mix of neighborhood roads and stairs to the Selby Trail in Tilden Regional Park. Be careful on neighborhood roads, as some level crossings do not have pedestrian crossings. Take the Selby Trail southeast to the Atlas Trail, with its magnificent 180-degree views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Mount Tamalpais on a clear day. Walk down the hidden stairs at Glendale La Loma Park, then turn north on Euclid Avenue to return to your starting point at the Rose Garden.

Map of trails: tinyurl.com/berkeleyrosegardenandstairways

Details: The Berkeley Rose Garden is open daily from dawn to dusk at 1200 Euclid Ave. Free street parking is available. Dogs are not allowed in the rose garden. Find more details at cityofberkeley.info.

Have a bite to eat before the hike to Berkeley’s Boichik Bagels. (Courtesy of Melissa Ozbek)

Take a bite: Fans line up for the East Coast Boichik Bagels, which offer classics such as lox and bagel sandwiches ($ 15.50) from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (or while supplies last) on Tuesday through Sunday at 3170 College Ave. in Berkeley. Learn more at boichikbagels.com.

Flag Hill-Indian Joe Creek Loop, Sunol

Sunlight illuminates mountain peaks and seeps into the pastoral valleys of Sunol Regional Wilderness, a former ranch with 6,859 acres of idyllic glades, streams and grazing cattle. This 4.5-mile loop visits 1,360-foot Flag Hill, with breathtaking views of the Sunol Valley and Alameda Creek Watershed.

Start at the pedestrian bridge over Alameda Creek, cross it and turn left on Flag Hill Trail. The climb is strenuous, gaining 1,000 feet in the first 1.3 miles, but the rewards are sweet, with views of Loma Prieta, Mission Peak and the Maguire Peaks towering above the prairies.

Sunlight illuminates mountain peaks and seeps into pastoral valleys of the Sunol regional wilderness. (Courtesy of Melissa Ozbek)

After marking Flag Hill, descend east on Flag Hill Road, High Valley Road, and Cave Rocks Road to the Indian Joe Creek Trail 2.9 miles away. The narrow, more shaded trail winds between Sycamore and Indian Joe Creek to the park headquarters and bridge.

Map of trails: tinyurl.com/flaghillloop

Details: Hours vary seasonally, but the park gates at 1895 Geary Road in Sunol are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until March 7. Parking is $ 5 per vehicle on weekends and holidays. Dogs are allowed; the fee is $ 2 per dog. Learn more at ebparks.org.

Take a bite: The newly renovated and reopened Bosco’s Bones & Brew is a jovial gathering place and keeper of Sunol history, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner daily ($ 8.50 for a burrito at the breakfast) starting December 18 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 11930 Main Street. details on boscosbonesandbrews.com.

Mayfair Ranch-Longwall Canyon, Morgan Hill Loop

The Rancho Cañada del Oro Reserve is that rare destination that is as beautiful to visit as it is to hike, combining a feeling of Sunday driving through the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains with rolling hills, canyons dotted with oak trees. and hay-colored peaks. The 4.3-mile Mayfair Ranch-Longwall Canyon Loop traverses the exquisite forests, mountains, and valleys of the reserve.

Start at the Mayfair Ranch Trail, walking clockwise under the live oak trees on the coast. Next to you, the 1.5 mile ADA-accessible Llagas Loop Trail circles a quiet glade with lupines in bloom in spring. Climb 650 feet the next 1.6 miles through oak forests and meadows – with spring-blooming wildflowers like fairy lanterns and mariposa lilies, so this is a hike you’ll want to do again this spring.

On the Mayfair Ranch-Longwall Canyon Loop Trail in the Rancho Cañada del Oro Preserve, you’ll emerge from the forest onto a sunny ridge with views of the region’s peaks and valleys. (Courtesy of Melissa Ozbek)

Exit the forest on a sunny slope with views of the peaks of Mt Umunhum and the Diablo Range. Halfway through your hike you’ll find a picnic table that overlooks the trees and ridges above the valley. Descend among the Laurels of California Bay and along Baldy Ryan Canyon Creek, joining the Longwall Canyon Trail at 3.1 miles to complete your loop.

Map of trails: tinyurl.com/mayfairranchloop

Details: The reserve is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at 4289 Casa Loma Road in Morgan Hill. No charges. Dogs are not allowed. Find more details at openspaceauthority.org.

Take a bite: Pick up a bagel for breakfast ($ 3.99 for an egg and cheese) at the friendly Regal Bagel, which opens at 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 6:30 a.m. Sunday at 125 Bernal Road in San Jose. Take a look at the menu at regalbagel.com.

Los Trancos Loop, Los Altos Hills

The wooded trails of the Foothills Nature Reserve traverse deep valleys in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, offering views of the Santa Clara Valley and San Francisco Bay. Visit the park’s highlights on the 7.7-mile Los Trancos Loop, a moderately strenuous hike with beautiful views, wildlife, and shady greenery.

Start at the Orchard Glen Picnic Area, walking clockwise through the Wildhorse Valley to take the Los Trancos Trail. Steadily climb 1,000 feet for the next two miles through a shrubby chaparral and valley. A highlight of the trail are the pedestrian bridges: there are 21 on this loop, and it’s fun to count them as you go.

The Los Trancos Loop in the Los Altos Hills Foothills Nature Reserve includes 21 small pedestrian bridges. (Courtesy of Melissa Ozbek)

The bench at the 2.3 mile mark provides a good resting point overlooking the bay, Mount Diablo, and the Santa Cruz Mountains. When you’re ready, descend to Los Trancos Creek, where the trail narrows along a shaded hallway. After another short climb, continue descending towards the valley of Las Trampas and a large lawn. Turn right to return to Orchard Glen and complete your loop.

Map of trails: tinyurl.com/lostrancosloop

Details: The reserve is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset at 11799 Page Mill Road in Los Altos Hills. There is a vehicle charge of $ 6. Dogs on a leash are permitted on weekdays; dogs are not allowed on weekends and public holidays. Learn more at cityofpaloalto.org.

Take a bite: Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels are the soft bagels of my childhood. This cafe offers homemade bagels ($ 2.95 for a butter bagel) and sandwiches from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at 477 S. California Ave. in Palo Alto. Check out the menu at www.izzysbrooklynbagels.com.