Summer hiking in the Bay Area is tricky. You get out of the seven square miles of the city and all of a sudden it’s really, truly summer. And when it’s 99 degrees in the South Bay, that means a lot of trails can be miserable. Not the ones inside of Portola Redwoods State Park, though! It’s an hour-and-a-half haul from San Francisco, but on a hot day, the descent into the park’s cool, shady valley makes the trek worth it.
Location: South Bay
Crowd factor: Families galore near the ranger station and along the Sequoia Nature Trail, but only the occasional friendly passerby in the farther reaches of the park.
Exposure: Blissfully shady.
Distance: ~7.5 miles but there are options that range from a couple miles to 13+. We wandered around Tiptoe Falls before ascending the Summit Trail to the relatively flat Slate Creek Trail. Took a snack break at Slate Creek Trail Camp before turning around.
Difficulty: One big water bottle. Wish I’d had more. Mostly due to the heat and length rather than pure difficulty.
Pro tips: The map they give you at the ranger station is pretty terrible, and there’s no cell service in the park, so make sure you’ve got your plans squared away beforehand. Also, there’s a well-appointed campground with walk-in sites…perfect for breaking up all that driving.
Date hiked: 7/8/17