The hiking book: Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area
The distance:
about 3.5 miles
The CityGirls rating:

This weekend we had a lovely little wander in the hills of Ireland.

Okay, it wasn’t really Ireland, it was Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve in Marin, but man, it looked and felt a lot like we think Ireland looks and feels (though we’ve never actually been there). There were rolling hills with scattered rocks and occasional clumps of trees. There was a gray sky and lots of wind.

Oh, and there were wildflowers.

Lots of wildflowers.

The hiking book said that this was a great park for wildflowers, and we were smack dab in the middle of their season. We were hiking with S&J again, who are very into looking at fun plants while hiking. They were very good about pointing out all the different flowers that we passed.

We, on the other hand, are very into climbing on rocks, and there were lots of lovely smallish boulders for us to scale.

As usual, we were following a trail out of our trusty hiking book, Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area, but we lost the route in the book pretty early on. Maybe the directions in the book weren’t great, or maybe we were just too distracted by this amazing school:

Yes, that’s solar panels, a green roof, a covered sports court of some sort, fancy buildings, a garden and (just off the edge of this photo) a super cute chicken coop shaped like a little red barn. Are you jealous yet? Because we are.

So anyway, we have no idea where we lost the trail in the book, but it all worked out okay. It was an open hillside, so we could see most of the major landmarks of the hike. And there were lots of trails all over, so we just wound our way around to Petroglyph Rock and Ring Mountain (which was really just a hill, with random ring paths going up the sides) and the other areas of the open space preserve.

The state of California is back in a drought, but you wouldn’t know it if you’d been hiking with us the last couple weekends. After the mucky-muck trails of last week, Ring Mountain was also pretty soggy. We were luckier this week, though, because the sodden bits of trail were mostly covered by grass, making them more spongy-mucky and squishy instead of being huge mud pits.

Despite the random puddles (really, where did all that water come from?), this was a lovely hike with lovely friends. Points docked for lacking a clear trail, or rather, for having too many different trails that weren’t marked on our map. But it was pretty. And had rocks to climb. And views of the Bay. And yes, that’s San Quentin across the Bay looking all massive and institutional.

To make a lovely day even lovelier, we followed our hike with lunch at one of the best restaurants ever, Sol Food in San Rafael. Nothing like some well-earned sweet plantains and limeade on a warm, sunny day.

Best season to hike: Spring when the wildflowers are out. Though for the full Irish experience, a foggy winter day would probably be perfect.
Ease of following designated hike: 2.
Solitude: 3. But even when there were people around, it didn’t feel overly crowded or intrusive.