Sometimes you’ve only got minutes to get to a high point in time for sunset. So keep it simple on a short hike that delivers a sunset punch within twenty minutes. The East Bay’s Claremont Canyon has a 1.5-mile out-and-back hike with an aerie perch for watching the sun lower and sink behind the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, with the far-off Farallon Islands fading out in the distance. Begin by traversing Side Hill Trail, which takes you on a ramble above Claremont Canyon. Before sundown, dramatic shadows fill in the terrain to the south, thick with eucalyptus trees. When you come to a fire road, turn left. (Remember this unmarked junction, when you make your way back.)
For a few minutes, you’ll be on East-West Trail, flanked by soaring trees. Shortly after passing an intersecting trail, head up a hill and then immediately veer right on an unmarked path, which leads to the viewpoint. Relax and enjoy the sunset tableau over the sea and San Francisco, with Berkeley right at your feet.
From Hwy. 24, take the Fish Ranch Rd. exit in Orinda (the first exit to the east of the Caldecott Tunnel). Follow Fish Ranch Rd. to the four-way stop sign, then turn right on Grizzly Peak Blvd. In just under a mile (before the entrance to Tilden Regional Park) on your right side you’ll see a fire-road gate, near which you can park your car. The small, unmarked trailhead is immediately across the road. (The area is known as Scotts Peak Trailhead, and can be found on Google Maps.) Dog-friendly!