Mount Tamalpais

Big hill looming over the southern end of Marin County. You can park near the peak and hike less than a mile to the top, but it’s more fun to walk up from one of Mount Tamalpais State Park’s many trail heads. Elevation: 2,572 feet to East Peak. I hiked it in February 2007. You can park in Mill Valley and hike to the peak, as this write-up describes.

Fire Lookout, East Summit
Above: Fire lookout, East Summit

Mount Diablo

Biggest peak in the Bay Area, blazing hot in the summer, windblown and occasionally snowcapped in winter, biggest thing on the East Bay skyline. Elevation: 3,849. My favorite summit hike: Three Peaks from a trailhead in the town of Clayton. Here’s a blogger’s snowy hike there in February 2009.

Diablo Summit
Summit Kiosk at Mount Diablo.

Mission Peak

Fremont’s signature peak is a great workout hike, though you’ll have to fight crowds on the weekends. No easy, gentle strolls to the top. Elevation: 2,497 feet. I’ve hiked there dozens of times. Nice page of Mission Peak info here.

Blue sky, finally
Mission Peak

Mount Sizer

Remote peak in Henry Coe State Park most notable for the notorious “Short Cut” nearby, one of the region’s most beastly trails. Elevation: 3,182 feet. Great way to burn a day on the trail; I recommend the 14-mile counter-clockwise loop. Calipidder did a similar hike in 2007.

Near Mount Sizer
Trees near Mount Sizer.

Montara Mountain

Big hill just south of Pacifica has awesome views when the coast is clear. Hike to the summit is all fire roads, but the mind-boggling vistas overcome all objections. Elevation: 1,898 feet (you’ll do it all if you hike up from the beach). I did my first hike there a couple weeks back. Here’s a Dinesh Desai’s “Everest by the Bay” hike at Montara.

Pacific coast from Montara Mountain
Pacific Coast from Montara Mountain

Black Mountain

High point of the Montebello Ridge Open Space in the Santa Cruz Mountains offers views of the Pacific, San Francisco and Silicon Valley on clear days. Very windy at the top. Elevation: 2,800 feet.. Fourteen-mile out-and-back from Rancho San Antonio County Park is a fave, though it’s also accessible from the Montebello OSP parking lot on Page Mill Road, a six-mile out-and-back. Here’s a summary at SummitPost.

The rocks at Black Mountain Summit
Rocks at Black Mountain Summit

Rose Peak

High point on the Ohlone Wilderness Trail is accessible only by a 20-mile out-and-back, or by backpacking to nearby Maggie’s Half Acre and camping overnight. Elevation: 3,817 feet. My last visit was in the spring of 2007. Here’s a trip report at the Bay Area Hiker discussion board.

Mount St. Helena

It’s a bit of stretch to say the highest point in the Wine Country is in the Bay Area, but the peak is mentioned in many Northern California hiking guides and many are tempted to check it out. Elevation: 4,343. It’s a 10-mile out-and-back from Jack London State Park. I got most of the way to the top there in the summer of 2006. That Other Tom writes about it at the S.F. Chron.