East Bayers traditionally head to Mt. Diablo for big views; but for a less popular yet still compelling vantage, head to Garin Regional Park and its namesake peak. Just southeast of Hayward, this underused park offers wide views without crazy climbing. Yes, there’s some elevation gain, but it’s a pleasantly gradual ascent through rolling green hills, grazing cows, and shady creek canyons. Navigate the Vista Peak Loop Trail (3.3 miles round-trip) clockwise and within the first 30 minutes you’ll be treated to the sight of the southern San Francisco Bay spreading all the way to the highlands of Sweeney Ridge and the Santa Cruz Mountains. The cows and rain can make this trail messy, so bring a spare pair of shoes to change into after you’re done. What would life be without a little messy fun?
To reach the park: From I-880 going south, exit Industrial Parkway and turn left. Go 2 miles and turn right on Mission Blvd. After .25 miles, go left on Garin Ave., which takes you into the park. From the parking lot, follow the paved road (Vista Peak Loop Trail) east through Arroyo Flats. Garin is dog-friendly. More information.