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San Rafael, California

San Rafael, California is a true of natural beauty and endless opportunities for exploration. From rustic trails to immersive experiences, the area provides every traveler with a sense of adventure. Its attractions, such as the Marin Headlands, Muir Woods National Monument, and the Point Reyes National Seashore, offer sights that both challenge and reward. Here, magnificent landscapes and a variety of outdoor activities meet to provide a memorable and unique retreat. With so many choices, San Rafael is a must-visit destination for nature-lovers of all kinds.

Top Spots in and near San Rafael

  • Bodega Bay, California

    Bodega Head Nature Trail

    4.7
    1.67 mi / 121 ft gain
    Sitting west of the San Andrea fault, the Bodega Head is a massive chunk of granite from the Salinian Block, a geological terrane that contains Point Reyes and the Farallon Islands, and shares its origins with the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Head itself having been carried hundreds of miles to t...
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  • Redwood City, California

    Hike the Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve Loop

    3.7
    5.5 mi / 1000 ft gain
    Getting there: exit Highway 280 at Edgewood Road, travel .75 miles east, turn left on Crestview Drive, then immediately left again on Edmonds Road.Once parked, there are several different path options through the park. All of them connect in a large loop, and return to the parking lot. The Cordil...
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  • Redwood City, California

    Hike Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve

    4.0
    4.2 mi / 600 ft gain
    Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve rests in San Mateo County, California. The sweeping hillsides exemplify the true native flora of California, as the foundation of rock and soil is poor in nutrients. Only a few specialized native plants are adapted to live here--don't miss the unique wildflower ...
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  • Half Moon Bay, California

    Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail

    3.64 mi / 322 ft gain
    Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail is an out-and-back trail where you may see local wildlife located near Half Moon Bay, California.
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  • Vacaville, California

    Bike the Cantelow Climb

    5.0
    19.68 mi / 1119 ft gain
    Begin your ride from Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville, California. There is a parking lot here if you drive to the start of your ride (the park entrance fee is $3 per vehicle per day). Head out of the parking lot and turn right onto Rivera Road where you'll cross over Hwy 80. The road becomes Cher...
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  • Redwood City, California

    Hike Whittemore Gulch at Purisima Creek Redwoods OSP

    4.0
    9.3 mi / 2109 ft gain
    This trail starts out going downhill towards the ocean for the first half, which makes for a tough end to the hike as you trek back up the ridge.  However, there are nice ocean and hilltop views that are worth the climb. On this trail, you'll pass 60+ banana slugs if conditions are right. They ar...
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  • Redwood City, California

    Hike Purisima Creek Redwoods OSP

    4.6
    7 mi
    There are two places to park for this specific loop- the main parking area on Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard) and a smaller parking lot on the western end of the park. I would recommend parking at whichever is closest. Find directions to both on Openspace.org. From the main parking lot, the trail ...
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  • Redwood City, California

    Mountain Bike at Purisima Creek

    This beautiful mountain bike ride can be started at the Purisima Creek Road Trailhead or on Skyline Boulevard. There are many trails in the Purisisma Creek Redwoods, but Whittemore Gulch is by far the most beautiful and fun single track to descend on. If you are starting from Skyline Boulevard, i...
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  • Half Moon Bay, California

    Purisima Creek Trail and Craig Britton Trail Loop

    4.0
    6.95 mi / 1411 ft gain
    This hike is perfect for any time of year, always staying cool because it is near the coast, and there are multiple creeks that flow year-round. Even on foggy days, the fog condenses on trees to make it seem like it is "raining." Be warned that this hike has a lot of elevation change and is stre...
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  • Bodega Bay, California

    Camp at Bodega Dunes Campground

    These kind of getaways shouldn't be planned many weeks before the trip. So we didn't booked a campground. And from this experience we learn that you don't have to reserve a campground. Just go there - don't panic when you see campground is full sign in the entrance. There are always available spo...
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  • Saint Helena, California

    Lake Hennessey Loop

    5.0
    6.53 mi / 764 ft gain
    The "lollipop" hike starts at the "Ranch House" parking lot off of Chiles Pope Valley Road - alternatively, you can access from Conn Valley Road for a shortened 5.6-mile loop. You turn off Chiles Pope Valley Road onto Moore Creek Trail, drive past a private house (you can see it on the map) and t...
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  • Cowell Ranch Beach Access, California

    Picnic at Cowell Ranch Beach

    5.0
    Hike half a mile to this beautiful, secluded beach.  There are high cliffs with a steep staircase down to the beach.  The beach has wonderful rock formations on one side.  It is a great place to watch the sunset or bring a picnic.  A great place for a beach day if you are looking for something le...
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  • Half Moon Bay, California

    Bike the Cowell-Purisima Coastal Trail

    4.0
    This trail begins at the Cowell State Beach parking lot and is only open on the weekends. From the lot, take the short Cowell Ranch Access trail to a scenic overlook. There are steps down to the secluded pocket beach just above the main trail. The trail playfully meanders along the cliffside with...
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  • Half Moon Bay, California

    Hike the Cowell-Purisma Trail

    5.0
    7 mi / 400 ft gain
    This is a popular trail that has beach access to Cowell Ranch Beach.  Along the trail, there is a steep staircase that goes down to the beach.  The trail also features fields, a bridge, and beautiful views of California's rugged coastline.  This trail is paved in some parts, and can also be biked...
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  • Occidental, California

    LandPaths Grove of Old Trees

    5.0
    0.7 mi / 92 ft gain
    The Grove of Old trees is a privately-owned preserve in Western Sonoma County that is open to the public year round. It is not large, only about 33 acres, but it makes a wonderful spot to go on a walk and to soak in the beauty of the redwoods. To get there from downtown Occidental, drive West up...
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  • Bodega Bay, California

    Bodega Dunes Beach

    4.0
    Bodega Dunes Beach is located through the same entrance as Bodega Dunes Campground. There is a fee to enter the parking area for day use, but you can also access it without payment if you have a CA State Parks Pass. From the parking area heading toward the beach, you will see two picnic areas wi...
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