Berkeley parks

Best warm weather hikes with shade and trees

Labor Day is the perfect time to get out and enjoy nature. Of course, it’s more difficult to do in a heat wave. National Weather Service calls it a “marathon not a sprint,” with temperatures in parts of the bay reaching 108 degrees Sunday through Tuesday.

Pick the wrong hike in these conditions and you’ll soon feel like R2-D2 and C-3PO are melting into the Tatooine Desert. However, robots probably don’t succumb to dehydration and heat exhaustion like humans do. Here are three low-strength hikes in the area with plenty of shade and cooler geography, with suggestions for places to eat and drink afterwards. As always, dress appropriately, wear sunscreen, and pack plenty of water. (Note the East Bay Regional Park District announced that due to high fire risk, the Tilden Nature Area and many other East Bay parks will be closed on Sundays and Labor Day.)

Point Reyes National Seashore has coastal trails kept cool by exposure to the ocean. (Getty Pictures)

Point Reyes National Seashore

Hiking : Point Reyes can seem transported from a different world, with its moody atmosphere and magical creatures like tule elk and vibrant marine life. A great way to explore this rugged area is to start at the Palomarin trailhead at the south end of the park. It guides you through a wooded area with interestingly shaped trees, then opens up to a cliff-side trail with great ocean views. There’s not much shade here, but luckily the coastal breeze acts like an open fridge. Hikers can choose how far they go on the trail – Bass Lake is about 8km north and Alamere Falls 21km – but sometimes it’s best to just enjoy the view and turn back when you’re ready .

The bite: In the nearby town of Bolinas, there’s Smiley’s Saloon in a delightfully weathered building from the 1800s. It offers good beer and stiff cocktails (served at the bar or to go) and Mexican-inspired food like tortas and pozole, plus live music on weekends (41 Wharf Road, Bolinas; smileysalon.com). If you don’t mind driving 45 minutes down scenic Route 1, there’s also the Marshall Store, an open-air restaurant on the water with delicious seafood like chowder, smoked fish and oysters grilled (19225 Highway 1, Marshall; themarshallstore.com).

Grilled oysters with bacon and butter bread at the Marshall Store on Hwy 1.
Grilled oysters with bacon and butter bread at the Marshall Store on Hwy 1. (John Metcalfe/Bay Area News Group)

Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

Hiking : Banana slugs know where cool spots are. One of them is Purisima in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Half Moon Bay, which maintains a pleasant climate due to its exposure to the Pacific climate and massive, sound-absorbing redwood trees. There are many ways to explore the reserve: The North Ridge Trailhead, off Skyline Boulevard, takes you downhill through wooded, sunny areas, with spectacular views of the ocean horizon and hills below. The Purisima Creek/Higgins Road trailhead takes you on a pleasant walk along a creek with much less elevation and more shade. It’s easy to find peace here among dark ferns, moss and delicate wildflowers. (Note that parking lots at the trailhead, especially Purisima Creek, are small and fill up quickly.)

The bite: Many good restaurants around Half Moon Bay are just to the west. If you want to make it an occasion, consider making an advance reservation at the cliffside Moss Beach Distillery, with legendary views of the setting sun and coastal cuisine like crab cakes and seared yellowfin tuna. (140 Beach Way, Moss Beach; mossbeachdistillery.com). For a less grandiose but equally satisfying seafood meal, head to Barbara’s Fishtrap for its plates of large, juicy fried scallops and shrimp with fries and tartare (281 Capistrano Road, Half Moon Bay; barbarasfishtrap.com).

Tilden Nature Area

A cow looks over the fence of the small farm in the Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley, California.
A cow looks over the fence of the small farm in the Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley, California. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

Hiking : This east bay family park has shaded trails of varying difficulty, ranging from those that take you over hills and along canyons to flat rides along a stream. (Note the East Bay Regional Park District announced that due to high fire risk, the Tilden Nature Area and many other East Bay parks will be closed on Sundays and Labor Day.)

Here’s a route that won’t make you sweat. After parking in the parking lot near the Environmental Education Center, it’s almost obligatory to go up to the Little Farm and say “Hi” to the zeppelin-shaped sheep, ducks and pigs (you can also feed if you bring your own salad). From here it is easy to draw a short loop under the cooling shafts in Southwestern Tilden Region – one suggestion is to follow the Sylvan Trail to one of the Packrat trails, with detours taking you along a creek bed and onto a winding boardwalk surrounded by tall vegetation.

The bite: If you can get there before they sell out or close at 3, Delirama is a new brick-and-mortar restaurant in Berkeley from the chefs behind pop-up Pyro’s Pastrami; he praises his pastrami sandos served over freshly baked rye, as well as other Jewish bites like hash browns and bialys (1746 Solano Ave., Berkeley; delirama.com). For those who like to regulate their body temperature by drinking cold beer, there’s Westbrae Biergarten further afield in Berkeley. Its open-air patio has picnic tables with umbrellas to block the sun, where you can sample refreshing summer beers like Hefeweizen and pineapple cider and munch on a tri-tip from a Brazilian food truck ( 1280 Gilman St, Berkeley; westbraebiergarten.com).