4. Flag Hill Trail
Distance: 2.5 miles
Trailhead: Visitor center, Sunol Regional Wilderness
Take Shady Glen Trail out of the visitor center lot, cross the small bridge over Alameda Creek (Alameda County’s largest stream), and link up to Flag Hill Trail. You’ll quickly climb out of the woods as you gain elevation. At the top, you’ll enjoy fabulous views across the valley, reservoir, and watershed. Look out for sandstone formations with fossils of life from ancient seabeds and maybe even spot a bobcat or two. To impress a date, follow up the outdoor frolic with an afternoon of wine tasting at Elliston Vineyards, then take a romantic ride on the Niles Canyon Railway. Serious mojo.
5. Skyline Gate Loop
Distance: Five miles
Trailhead: Skyline Gate Staging Area, Redwood Regional Park
Reason No. 5,487 we love California: redwood trees in our backyard. From Skyline Gate, walk the exposed East Ridge Trail until you hook right down into the park’s valley on Prince Trail. The temperatures dip coming off the ridge, and you’ll notice the immediate change in vegetation. Descending Prince Trail, hook left on Stream Trail. (From November to February, be on the lookout for wintering ladybugs who take up camp in clusters by the millions right near this trail intersection… whoa.) Take a minute to appreciate the calm and quiet among the massive redwoods. Follow Stream Trail until taking a right on Fern Trail. Get your heart rate up as you climb out of the valley on Fern Trail. When you hit West Ridge, take a right, and follow it all the way back to Skyline Gate, enjoying/Insta-ing the gorgeous views along the way.
6. Falls Trail Loop
Distance: 7.6 miles
Trailhead: Regency Drive or Mountaire Parkway
Waterfalls in the East Bay? You’re damn right. Head to Mt. Diablo State Park to take in nature’s bounty, y’all. The hike is pretty hard, and the going can be slippery if it rained recently (hahahaha yeah right), but there’s a series of lovely waterfalls throughout all the hard work (especially if you’re there during the springtime; you may be out of luck during high-drought season). The trail loop isn’t terribly complicated, but the trail names switch up a bit. You’ll be less likely to get lost and have to live under a waterfall forever if you just follow this trail map. If beautiful, flowing water has never been your thing -- skip the falls and take in the Mount Diablo Summit. There are two ways to do this: 1) hike the North Peak like a badass and enjoy your hard-earned views, or 2) drive up to the summit and have your cake and eat it too. Either way, on clear days the park states you have visibility over 40,000 square miles and can spy segments of 35 of California’s 58 counties. So. That’s pretty great.