Wondering where you and your best friend can go for a hike this summer?
Some Bay Area Counties have more good hikes than others, but here is one of the best hikes for each Bay Area County:
Sonoma Valley Regional Park is 162 acres of both paved and dirt trails. Dogs must be on a 6-foot leash (max) at all times, unless they are in the Elizabeth Anne Perrone Dog Park. The park features a picnic area and Porta-a-Potty for our convenience. It is open from sunrise to sunset, year-round. There is a $6 fee per vehicle (with a special fee for buses or trucks carrying more than 9 people).
Alston Park is open from dawn to dusk. The trail is pretty exposed, so it would be best to go during cooler parts of the day. The trail is an easy 2.7-mile loop. Dogs must be on a leash, unless they are in the Canine Commons area.
Cache Creek Canyon Regional Park is over 700 acres. The park also has access to over 54,000 acres of Federal Bureau of Land Management Property. Dogs are allowed on all of the Federal land. Day Use Pass is $6 per vehicle. Annual Day Use Passes are available for $75. Camping and other activities are also available.
Rush Ranch Open Space Preserve is 2,070 acres. Admission to the ranch, as well as its activities, is free. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (or dusk). They have docent guided hikes, or you can explore on your own. Leashed dogs are allowed around the ranch buildings, the driveway and on the Suisun Hill Trail. Dogs are not allowed on the Marsh Trail or the South Pasture Trail.
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area's summer hours for the park vary by area, but all areas are open between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. The park has multiple entrances, and camping and other activities are available.
Contra Costa County
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve is 6,096 acres. The hours vary during the year. From April 18 to Sept. 5, the hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Please see the website for hours during other dates. Parking is $5/vehicle, when the kiosk is attended (trailers and buses are extra). Admission for dogs is $2 each (guide or service dogs are free). The current rules for dogs are on the Dog FAQ page. The East Bay Regional Park District is having a board meeting pertaining to rules for dogs in parks on April 17, so these may change.
Tilden Regional Park is 2,079 acres. Hours are from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., unless otherwise noted. There are no fees. Like the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, it is in the East Bay Regional Park District, so the same rules apply (again, these rules may change after the meeting on April 17, 2012).
Marin Headlands Trail is open from sunrise to sunset. In addition to hiking trails, it has a dog friendly beach: Rodeo Beach. There is a Visitor Center that is open year-round from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas).
San Francisco County
Land's End has beautiful views and a memorial to the USS San Francisco. They have a new Visitor Center, the Lookout. Dogs are welcome on the Coastal Trail and Land's End Beach (which tends to be nudist friendly).
San Mateo County
Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve is 366 acres. There are 6 miles of trails, including a 2.2-mile loop. There are no fees. There is a restroom. Water is not available, so be sure to bring your own. Hours are from dawn to half hour after dusk. Dogs must be on leash, unless they are in the off leash area.
Santa Cruz County
Henry Cowell State Park has about 20 miles of hiking, but dog access is limited. Dogs are allowed in the picnic area, campground, Pipeline Road, Graham Hill Trail, and Meadow Trail. The Day Use Area is open from sunrise to sunset. In addition to the trails and campground, the park has a Nature Center and a Gift Shop. There is a $10 fee to enter at the main entrance or the campground. Entering at the Graham Hill Entrance (near Sims Road) is free.
Experience: I've been hiking since a child, and hiking with my pug for a year and a half.