The biggest problem with getting outside in the Bay Area? Being spoiled for choice. We’re trimming that process by getting the goods straight from the experts. This week: Allie Foraker, contributing photographer for Tiny Atlas Quarterly, on her top Bay Area hike, along with the gear you need to get there in style.
My friend and I almost slept in our car the night before our trip to Sykes Hot Spring so we could be the first hikers out on the trail. I recommend giving yourself three days for the trip.
Pineridge Trail is a well-traversed weekender, and the hot springs fill up fast. Our plan was to leave Friday, get all the way to Sykes in one day (10-ish miles) and enjoy the springs Friday night and the next morning. Then we would hike back to one of the other campsites we passed on our way to Sykes on Saturday afternoon and spend Sunday making our way out.
Pineridge Trail can be challenging at parts, with some drastic inclines. But with hot springs as a reward, it's easy to stay motivated. There are a handful of waterfalls dotting the path that we used to fill up on water (be sure to bring your iodine tablets or an alternate method of water treatment).
We arrived late that Friday — the sun had already dipped behind the surrounding mountains. There are no designated campsites, but we found a great site on the other side of the river that cuts through the Pineridge Trail. I would note that in high tide, that little nook is likely underwater.
At night we put on our headlamps and scampered up and down logs in the dark to the hot springs. There are two springs: one smaller, up on the top ledge, and one below, which can fit around 4 or 5 people — but of course, the more the merrier.
We looked up into the clear night sky, the smell of sulfur hanging in the steam, and watched satellites orbit the earth. My favorite hike: found.
Three things to enjoy en route:
1. The latest edition of Tiny Atlas Quarterly. In fact, take a couple pictures and post them to Instagram with their hashtag so the editors can see what you got up to: #mytinyatlas.
2. For all your water purification needs: Katadyn Micropur tablets, $13.95 for 30
3. Swim shorts that are form-fitting without revealing anything: Burberry, $190