Happy Trails and Cold Ales to You!
The Bay Area is awash with hiking trails — walks that take you to majestic peaks, hidden caves, massive redwoods, secret waterfalls, wadeable creeks, peaceful monasteries, and cliffs overseeing turbulent coastlines. Our favorite ones, however, are the ones that end near a cold, locally-crafted beer. We took a look at some of the best trails in the Bay Area that end up near a location serving up local brews and booze. Some are within walking distance, some are a short drive nearby.
Strap on your favorite growler, put on those trusty boots, and, swinging your knapsack on your back, give a hearty “valderi” and a “valdera” as you head out the door for some fresh air, and, some fresh locally-made beer. (Another option is for you to stop by one these locations before your hike, fill up ye ole growler, and then head out into the wilderness.)
See our online edition for exact locations. Note that we include only general directions for these hikes — bring a detailed map when heading out, whether digital or on paper.
Trail: Mt. Tam Hill Climb
Alehouse: Mill Valley Beer Works
This is not an easy hike — a 3.5 mile upward climb of nearly 1,200 feet. Starting off in downtown Mill Valley, follow Summit Avenue to Fern Canyon Road until you cross Vern Dunshee, where you take a right. Take a short trek and watch as the Temelpa trail begins right around a picnic bench there. Then, start climbing until you reach the top. After marveling at some majestic views of the Bay Area, head back down and reward your achievements over a cold one at Mill Valley Beer Works, which features a full menu and a wide variety of craft beers (Fort Point, North Coast, and The Lost Abbey), as well as some crisp, dry cider from Golden State.
Alternate Stop: Marin Brewing Company, located in Larkspur Landing, is a bit further down the road, but worth the drive. Drink down a Mt. Tam Pale Ale in honor of your recent adventure. or maybe a Stinson Beach peach instead? Pt. Reyes Porter calling your name? Perhaps a San Quentin’s Breakout Stout? A wide variety of brews, alongside a full menu (including a nice selection of children’s meals) makes it a not-to-miss stop.
Mill Valley Beer Works
Marin Brewing Company
Trail: Mt. Diablo
Alehouse: Calicraft Brewing
Want to see some waterfalls? In the East Bay? If yes, then the Mount Diablo Loop calls your name. The six-mile trek takes you from open plains to thick woods as you slowly climb up Mt. Diablo to a height of 1,335 feet. Best times to go are early spring or late winter, especially after heavy rains (or the rare snowfall that blankets the peak on colder winter days); the runoff creates several spectacular waterfalls for your viewing pleasure. The no-dogs-allowed hike starts at the Regency Gate in Clayton. Getting there is a bit of a haul, but worth it: drive down Ygnacio Valley until you hit Clayton Road, which turns into Marsh Creek Road, and then take a right until you hit Regency Drive. If you’ve ever been to a concert at Concord Pavilion, you’re familiar with the general area.
On your way back, take a right on Ygnacio onto Oak Grove, and take a left at the light. Drive slowly through the industrial park and you’ll spot Calicraft. Opened in 2012, this brewery has consistently produced remarkable beers, ranging from their Cali Coast Kölsch, to their Oaktown Brown Ale, to their unique Buzzerkely — a Sparkling Ale that, in their words, “blurs the line between beer and wine.” Their taproom features lots of seating (including an outdoor section), and they also offer snacks and food trucks (check out their schedule online) alongside live music.
Alternate Stop: Hidden in a side road in downtown Walnut Creek (take a left off Ygnacio at the Target store, a right after Target, then a left and a second left after the Honda dealership), in between a pizzeria and a sushi shop, ØL is more of a beer sanctuary than a mere bottle shop or taproom. Their on-tap selection (as of print) included Russian River, Mikkeller, Founders, Lost Abbey, Belching Beaver, and more. While enjoying your freshly-poured pint, take a gander over to the huge refrigerator adjacent to the bar, or amble over to their beer shop, where you will be welcomed by shelves of local, state-side, national, and international bottled and canned delights, all thoughtfully curated by the staff and ready for you to carry out.
Øl Beercafe & Bottle Shop
Trail: Jean Lauer Trail/Pillar Point Bluff
Alehouse: Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.
While less than two miles in length, the Jean Lauer trail offers a lot to take in along the way: the bluff overlooks wetlands as well as coastal waters protected by the San Mateo County Fitzgerald Marine Reserves. Starting at the parking lot off of Airport Street, a dirt path takes you along the rugged coast, with ample views to take in the tides, as well as the occasional pelican, cormorant, gull, and hawk. If you are a surfer or a fan of the sport, you’ll recognize the famed Maverick’s Beach, home of the annual big wave surf competition.
Clichés aside, for this trail, the fun is not only in the journey but in the destination, as your walk literally ends within a short stone’s throw from Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. While their Calf-eine Coffee Milk Stout is a standout, their saison, kölsch, and amber ales won’t lead you astray either. Their menu includes seafood fare as well as meat, chicken, and other dishes that will sate your hunger.
Alternate Stop: Sacrilege Brewery & Kitchen, only a short 15-minute drive south from Jean Lauer Trail is well worth the side trip. Known for their irreverent creations, their draft list includes (at time of print) a cream ale, red ale, a Belgian IPA, and their current collaboration, Lost in the Fog, a blackberry rye vanilla milkshake created in conjunction with Hop Dogma and Half Moon Bay Brewing. They also offer selections from Discretion, Firestone, Barebottle, and others. A menu includes fish tacos, bar bites, and burgers.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
Sacrilege Brewery & Kitchen
Trail: Sign Hill Park
Alehouse: Armstrong Brewing
If you’ve ever driven to or from, or flown in or out of San Francisco Airport, you’ve seen the letters “South San Francisco The Industrial City” on the hillside in all of their shimmering glory. What you might not know is that there are several hiking trails that take you up close to the letters, where you can also see the endangered Mission Blue butterfly, enjoy some bird-watching, or take in the … ummmm …. interesting? … view of the Brisbane skyline. Trails available from Diamond Ave., off of Hillside Blvd., and Ridgeview Ct.
Less than a five minute drive from Sign Hill Park sits Armstrong Brewing Company, welcoming you with one of their own brews (their Return of the Fog is a must-try), or one from Fort Point, Drakes, Harmonic, and Laughing Monk and other locals. There are also some hard cider selections available, and a variety of food choices ranging from chili to sliders, wings, and brisket to keep your stomach from growling.
Alternate Stop: Down the street from Armstrong, 47 Hills has been providing locals with high-quality craft beer for several years. Their Mosaic IPA is superb (when available), and their Farmhouse Ale is a treat. Hungry? Grab a brew while mowing down on their truffle and salted fries.
Alternate alternate Stop: Hotaling and Co. was, until January 2018, know as Anchor Distilling. Known for their fragrant Junipero brand of gin, visitors to the tasting room on Mariposa can take a tour that includes a mini-hike through their rooftop garden that features an edible garden of botanicals and other ingredients that happen to go great in gin cocktails. Story by ABV Magazine
47 Hills Brewing
Hotaling & Company
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