Top 10 of 2020
In a year that was filled with choppy waters, one thing was a safe harbor: the great outdoors. Local trails and parks were a welcome respite as we navigated a new reality. As we look to the future we're also going to close out 2020 by sharing our annual best outdoor adventures of the year. In no particular order, here are the Top 10 Adventures of 2020. Onward.
1) The Lakes Basin
A trip to the Lakes Basin is a little like going back in time … It’s the High Sierra, simplified. Just you and the lakes and the mountains, and no cell phone service! Get to this destination about one hour northwest of Tahoe for some chill lakeside camping, miles of uncrowded hiking trails, and a lookout like no other.
2) Angel Island
When it comes to iconic Bay Area scenery, there’s something heavenly about Angel Island. The state park smack in the middle of San Francisco Bay has everything from a peak hike to one of the bay’s best panoramas, to a secret beach that’s ideal for kicking back to views of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate.
BONUS: Get Your Free 2021 Hiking Calendar by POST
Ready to kick off 2021? Download the 2021 POST Hiking Calendar (complimentary)—with recommended trails for every month of the year. It’s like a to-do list that you’ll actually love doing! Thank the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). Their conservation work protects the Bay Area’s natural landscape for the benefit of all, and this calendar of 12 hikes on the Peninsula and South Bay is filled with staff favorites. Waterfalls, wildflowers, wildlife, and wild open spaces: it’s all in there! Get the essential hiking details, along with beautiful photos and tips on when to visit.
3) Mount Tam and the Secret Tree Swing
Get reacquainted with Marin’s lofty landmark in Mount Tamalpais State Park. This 8-mile (round-trip) hike is a pure classic, with redwoods, water-flows, and soaring views of the coastline. Oh yeah, and that small detour to the secret tree swing.
4) Southern Oregon’s National Treasure
That’s blue! Crater Lake National Park has the deepest lake in the country and the seventh deepest in the world. For one of the very best perspectives of Crater Lake, hike the 3.4-mile out-and-back to Garfield Peak.
5) Kortum and GOAT!
The Sonoma Coast seems to have more beaches than San Francisco has hills; after Bodega Bay the choices go on for 13 glorious miles. For an easygoing beach-hopping hike with plenty of dramatic scenery, connect Shell Beach to Blind Beach along the beautiful blufftop Kortum Trail. And be sure to bonus the day with sunset at Goat Rock Beach.
6) Hankering for Henry Cowell
When a steam train chugging through soaring redwoods is just one among many amazing sites you’ll see at Henry Cowell State Park, you know you’re in for something magical. There’s also the ancient redwood grove, beautiful river, conifer-covered footbridges, and sandy beach. See the highlights on this 5-mile hike that includes an observation deck with 360-degree views to inspire.
7) On a Roll, Alameda!
Alamedans like to joke that they enjoy “island living.” Things are a bit slower and a bit more chill at this island city on San Francisco Bay. Get into the island swing of things and ride your bike from Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach to the cool industrial westside, where you can find craft breweries and the USS Hornet, a massive and impressive aircraft carrier that was part of WWII and the Apollo 11 recovery mission.
8) By Gosh, Joshua Tree!
Joshua Tree National Park is stunning in winter. Here are our top recommendations on exploring this dreamy desertscape in two days, from the classics to an accessible peak hike that’s brilliant near sunset.
9) Utica Reservoir
It’s all about the water, and the camping, at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest, a High Sierra reservoir perfect for kayak explorations and pitching your tent lakeside. And the scenery? Sierra spectacular!
10) Golden Gate is Great!
San Francisco’s largest park—the heartbeat of the city—traditionally closes part of JFK Drive on Sundays for walkers, bike riders, and roller skaters. But since April 2020, the road closure at Golden Gate Park has been in effect seven days a week, creating more open space for all kinds of fun and relaxing activities. Here are some of our favorites.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: In the episode “Top Adventures from The Year of the Dumpster Fire” Weekend Sherpa co-founders discuss some favorite adventures and how the Top 10 list was made from this rollercoaster of a year.
Your Inbox to the Outdoors
Stay up to date with our weekly recommendations on where to explore locally in California.
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2021 Hiking Calendar!
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