This past April, I set out on my very first solo road trip with my dog in tow. We headed to the bay area of California for a week of exploration and solidarity to relax, reload and bond. To follow up from my last blog, Day Trippin’ with Your Dog: Part 1 where I focused on day hikes in the San Diego county, I thought I’d share the amazing dog-friendly places we found in the Bay Area. If you have any other suggestions you like to visit with your dog in this area, please post a comment below.
A very important note to remember whenever you are hiking, be considerate and pick up after your dog and follow the rule that whatever you bring in with you, you carry out with you.
My favorite hike was through Roy’s Redwoods which is located in Marin’s San Geronimo Valley. This exquisite area was the perfect blend of open meadows, redwood forests and thickets. The trail head we found along Nicasio Valley Rd. was well defined and not too difficult. There were small hills to climb but the ascent was not too steep and the weather made the hike very comfortable. The total loop was about 3 miles though we could have gone further and checked out side loops as well. This stillness and quiet during the hike was amazing! I am not sure if I was lucky because I went on a weekday or if it is normally that low-traveled, but it is definitely worth a look. Warning: There is a lot of poison oak through the forest areas and ticks to be found through the grasslands, but still well worth the adventure.
Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in San Ramon was a beautiful area as well. Will rolling green hills, running water and plenty of wildlife, it felt like a magical place. It took us a bit
to find a decent trail as the only visible path was a paved road (pictured in upper left corner) that wound it’s way up a steep hill. We started up the hill but turned around about 1/2 mile up as it just wasn’t what we were looking for, and it was very difficult. The area is open to grazing cattle (as pictured) so you do have to be careful if your dog is off-leash. Once we returned to the bottom of the hill we poked around a bit and found a “river” trail off to the side which was much more appealing. The dirt trail (clearly a cow path) wound us along the river’s edge where we got to play in fresh, cool, running stream water for a bit. Although we passed a few people, they stuck to the paved road so once on the side trail, we had the place to ourselves.
Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline Park is a beautiful, large expansive area to explore along the narrow tidal strait in the Bay Area. There are several places to enter, but I found the Bull Valley Staging Area which opened up to lush, green meadows over rolling hills. Another place where cows roam free, the paths are made by the cows and easy to follow. You can stay on the large “road” used by service trucks (top left picture) or follow narrower trails used solely by pedestrians and cows. Luckily we didn’t see any cows on our adventure but there were plenty of signs that we weren’t too far behind them. We took a side trail that took us through the trees, along the fence line which was shaded and quiet. We reached a look out point over the water where a picnic table was ready for us to rest and eat a snack before heading back. There were plenty of options to continue the hike but it was getting late in the day so we decided to head back the way we came.
I recommend that if you are going to visit Spring Lake, you take Highway 12 (Sonoma Hwy) as this takes you through several sprawling wineries. It was my first time to drive through this type of countryside so it was very interesting to see the acres and acres of grapevines along the road. Spring Lake was on my agenda because I was looking for a second place to visit in this area and found Spring Lake which is also dog friendly. What I didn’t know is that the trail is a paved road with a lot of pedestrians. If you’ve ever been to Miramar Lake in San Diego county, it is just like that except part of the trail does take you under trees whereas Miramar Lake is completely in the open. There was a secondary trail closer to the water’s edge but the trail was very narrow and I noticed several joggers using that path so we stayed to the wider trail where there was room to pass if needed.
You can’t go on a trip with your dog and not visit Jack London Historic State Park! Just a few minutes south of Spring Lake, you will find this beautiful historic park. Although the park is not dog friendly, I found there is one trail dogs are allowed on…and of course it would be the Wolf House trail. This is about a 1 mile easy loop from the museum to the house Jack London was building from 1911-1913 when a fire tragically ripped through the house prior to its finish. The path takes you through redwood forests and the wind rustling through the tree leaves sounds like running water. Although it costs $7 to get into the park, I definitely recommend this short walk to feel your inner Call of the Wild. I did not have a chance to visit the museum but I think I will definitely plan to go back and explore the remaining 28 miles of trails to explore soon.