As of right now, these are the most popular Two-Heel Drive posts since I started counting in the summer of 2007. Since two-thirds of my visitors are Googlers, the results offer hints on how search engines match surfers with links.
1. Best of the Best in Bay Area Trails: This of includes the wonderful Berry Creek Falls Loop at Big Basin and the Steep Ravine Trail at Mount Tam, but the main reason it’s number 1 is use of the word “best”: Nobody’s searching for half-assed, mediocre trails: they want the best ones.
2. Best places to take your dog hiking. This combines the craving for greatness with a key question dogging (sorry) a significant minority of hikers: where can I legally take the pooch along?
3. Hiking clubs of note in the Bay Area. Once you know where to go, you want to know whom you can go with, especially if you’ve got no dog. If you’ve got no social skills, like me, you go solo.
4. Big Basin Redwoods State Park. My most-read Mercury News park profile. As local state parks go, there’s Big Basin and everything else — it’s the only one with a significant stand of old-growth redwoods and gorgeous year-round waterfalls.
5. Mount Diablo State Park. The most dominant hill in the Bay Area with some of the best hiking, especially in winter and spring. It’s not bowl-you-over beautiful like Big Basin, but has lots of cool nooks and crannies.
6. Alum Rock Park. A bit of a surprise because because there’s really one decent four-mile loop here, but it’s the only hike right at the edge of a city of just under 1 million.
7. Mount Madonna County Park. This would be a state park in many areas of the country. Its campgrounds are about the most popular in the South Bay, and its mix of oak woodlands and second-growth redwoods is quite nice.
8. Sunol Regional Wilderness. Sunol is tucked into an out-of-the-way corner of the Diablo Range, which makes it a bit hard to reach, but the hiking — and the scenery — are excellent.
10. Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. Purisima is much like Sunol: adored by hiking purists, unknown by everybody else, but its Top 10 status shows more people are catching on.
The only glaring omission from the Top 10 is a post recommending the best gear to take on local trails. My “10 essentials for happy hiking” barely broke the Top 25, which suggests I need a better title (hardly anybody Googles “happy hiking,” I guess.)