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Content Marketing Manager

It’s definitely shorts season…short hikes, that is.

I’m not a big fan of hot weather. When the mercury starts to rise, there’s something in me that just wants to curl up in a ball and take a nap. Clearly this is not my season. But I still like to go hiking in the summer, get the kids out of the house on the weekend and see the beautiful landscapes we live close to. So, I’m learning to adapt and typically choose short hikes in the shade.

One of the great things about living in the Bay Area is that we have a variety of microclimates nearby to escape to. Even on the hottest days in the South Bay, for example, it can be foggy, cold and even drizzly among the coastal redwoods. You can find comfortable places to hike here almost any time of year — you just need to know where to go. And, friends, we’re here to help.

Here are five short hiking trails (north to south from the Peninsula to the South Bay) that are especially great for those blisteringly hot summer days:

Short Hikes - POST

Pulgas Ridge Preserve

Overview: A short climb in the shade to a large off-leash dog area with great views.

Distance: 1.75-mile loop

Elevation gained: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Activities: Dog-friendly, wheelchair accessible

Driving directions: Click here to open map

More info: Preserve details, maps and more from Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

Description: The first part of this hike follows the Cordilleras Trail, which is flat, evenly surfaced and suitable for wheelchairs (see the trail map for more information). The wheelchair access ends near the connection with the Hassler Trail, which you can follow to the large, off-leash dog area. If you have a dog, they’ll love this spot and you’ll enjoy the great views from the top of the hill before descending in the shade of the Blue Oak Trail.

 

 

Short Hikes - POST

Thornewood Preserve

Overview: A mostly flat and almost completely shaded hike to Schilling Lake.

Distance: 1.57 miles round trip

Elevation gained: 400 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Activities: Horseback riding, dog-friendly

Driving directions: Click here to open map

More info: Preserve details, maps and more from Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

Description: The hike along the Schilling Lake Trail is almost completely shaded, perfect if you want to avoid the summer sun. And despite the heavy forest cover, there are still lots of great views east toward the Bay. Bring refreshments and make plans to spend some time in the shade of giant redwoods near Schilling Lake (which is more like a pond) before climbing back to the trailhead.

 

 

Short Hikes - POST

Los Gatos Creek Trail

Overview: A gentle, urban hiking experience along Los Gatos Creek.

Distance: 3 miles round trip

Elevation gained: 250 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Activities: Dog-friendly, biking

Driving directions: Click here to open map

More info: Park details, maps and more from Santa Clara County Parks

Description: You can access a cool, shaded section of this trail either from Vasona Park or downtown Los Gatos. I prefer to start from the park, climb the short distance to downtown and then find something cool to drink before following the trail back to the car. But there’s ample shade along this stretch of Los Gatos Creek and the trail is enjoyable going either direction.

 

 

Short Hikes - POST

Bean Hollow State Beach

Overview: A hike along an iconic segment of the California Coastal Trail.

Distance: 1.6 miles round trip

Elevation gained: 250 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Activities: Dog-friendly

Driving directions: Click here to open map

More info: Beach park details, maps and more from California State Parks

Description: On really hot days, a trip to the beach might be in order to fully escape the summer heat. From Bean Hollow State Beach, follow an iconic section of the California Coastal Trail along the rugged San Mateo Coast. One day, this regional trail will span the entire state, from Oregon to Mexico.

  

 

Short Hikes - POST

Henry Cowell Redwoods

Overview: A flat hike through giant redwoods along the banks of the San Lorenzo River.

Distance: 2 miles round trip

Elevation gained: 300 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Activities: Dog-friendly

Driving directions: Click here to open map

More info: Park details, maps and more from California State Parks

Description: This park is a destination you can count on for relief from the heat. If you’re looking for a dog-friendly trail, we suggest following Pipeline Road along the banks of the San Lorenzo River out to the bridge and back (see map below). But if you’re visiting without your furry friend, the Redwood Grove Loop Trail takes you past ancient redwoods and is arguably the highlight of this state park.

 

 

Looking for more great hikes?

Get a guide to 30 of our favorite trails around the Peninsula and South Bay.

 

Hikes Guide - POST

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About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 77,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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