It’s right now: The last couple weeks of March through the first couple weeks of May. This two-month span is the time to put off all your weekend household projects (you’ll have nice weather all summer), start shamelessly evangelizing your couch-potato friends, family, neighbors and co-workers about the pleasures of walking on dirt, and set aside hours for traveling under cloudless skies and redwood canopies.
Different swaths of Bay Area terrain have their charms at specific times of year — winter at Mount Diablo for crystal clear skies all the way to the Sierra, summer at Big Basin because it’s always cool under the redwoods, autumn in the East Bay hills for the Tarantula antics — but springtime is fantastic everywhere.
It’s not just about the wildflowers. Among the less-photogenic charms of spring:
- You can take the kids camping — the parks fill up during summer vacation but there are still spaces available in during the school year.
- You can take yourself backpacking — The only real wild backpacking (where you pick your own site) is at Henry Coe State Park. Popular places like Big Basin, Sunol and Castle Rock — do tend to fill up on the weekends but you can always take a few vacation days during the week to get some bag nights in.
- You can still hear water running: Most parks dry up from June till December but the flow typically prevails all spring.
- You can enjoy the hills while they’re green: When the weather warms and the days get longer, the grass practically shimmers in some locales.
- You won’t get muddy. The dry season kicks in during April — we do get a few April showers but the season’s really over at the end of March.
- You won’t start our shivering or end up soaked in sweat. This is the sweet-spot season, weatherwise.
I realize this is redundant to regular Two-Heel Drive readers. I just felt compelled to amass these bullet points after spending a few hours on the trails near the Pacific Coast south of San Francisco yesterday so you can send the link to folks you think might be on the bubble about going hiking.
If they’re ever going to go, conditions are ideal for an introduction. Let ‘em fight rain, mud and burning sun after they’ve caught the bug.