Living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area affords us so many opportunities to get outside (we have ~300 days of sun per year, so no excuses!). There are hundreds of hiking trails of varying elevation and difficulty; there’s something for everyone!
There are many resources for finding the right hike for you. Here are a few to start with.
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). https://openspacetrust.org/
The Peninsula Open Space Trust was developed to protect lands where people and nature can connect and thrive. They have preserved over 80,000 acres of open space in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties. Their website offers history information about POST, maps of hiking trails, field guides, as well as events, lectures and more.
In addition to POST, each county and region has its own resources.
Santa Clara County Parks
Whether you are looking for a vigorous hike, an easy stroll to take your kids, a great place for a picnic, want to see wildflowers, redwood trees, the ocean, you’ll find it!
Just remember to wear good walking shoes with tread, and bring a small backpack with sunscreen, water, a hat, maybe a snack if you plan to be gone awhile.
There are so many benefits to just being outside (let alone the exercise of hiking/walking!) According to studies, here are some of the benefits to your health and well-being:
Lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress — Spending time walking among or simply looking at trees lowers blood pressure and reduces the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
Improves mood — Researchers have found that nature simply makes us happy. Anxiety, depression and anger are notably decreased after spending time outdoors.
Improves focus — Studies show that both adults and children who have difficulties focusing or controlling impulses are better able to concentrate after being in nature. The natural world allows our brains to take a break from all that mentally drains us, and even reduces symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Helps us heal quicker — Illness and surgery can be painful and frightening, which can increase stress and slow healing. However, researchers discovered that patients who spent time outdoors during their recovery required fewer painkillers, had fewer complications and experienced shorter hospital stays.
Supports graceful aging — According to a study in the Journal of Aging and Health, adults over 70 who spent time outdoors experienced fewer sleep difficulties, complained less about aches and pains, and enjoyed improved mobility and ability to perform daily activities.
“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.”
– Henry David Thoreau