Hiking is its own reward, of course (views, fresh air, etc.).
Hiking followed by a friendly beer with buddies, though?
Below, our top five picks for superior hikes leading directly to some highly recommendable bars.
Hike: Presidio selects (see this map — follow the "Difficult" trail marked in orange)
Distance: 6.4 miles (loop)
Highlight: Views of the Pacific and the Golden Gate
The bar at the end of the trail: Sessions at the Presidio. We suggest entering at the Presidio Gate, and then detouring when you're nearly done from Lover's Lane, just inside the park from Chestnut and Lyon.
Refuel: If you can get there by 4 p.m. on a Friday (work what?), we vote for the happy hour oysters and $4 beer specials
Hike: Lake Merritt
Distance: 3.1 miles (loop)
Highlight: Exercise! The vibe is more "pretty lake that I am enjoying from this paved path" than "natural wild splendor."
The bar at the end of the trail: Lake Chalet — from the same team as Beach Chalet, and with more reliable weather.
Refuel: Irish Coffee and lobster sausage, anyone?
Hike: Napa Valley Vine Trail
Distance: 12.5 miles (one-way) — plan on cabbing back
Highlight: Feel free to swap feet for wheels in this shared walking/biking trail that will eventually stretch to nearly 50 miles through prime Napa vineyards. For now, follow it to its current northern terminus: Yountville.
The bar at the end of the trail: Well, there's always The French Laundry if you want to upgrade from "bar" to "world-class dining experience," just a block or so off the official trail. Otherwise, how about the Girard Winery Tasting Room?
Refuel: The "Cabernet Sauvignon Experience" sounds about right
Hike: This classic trip up Panoramic Hill
Distance: 5.9 miles (loop)
Highlight: Views from the top
The bar at the end of the trail: Keep going in the same direction as you come down from the hill — ’til you reach the Triple Rock brewpub.
Refuel: The Marine Layer IPA
Hike: Tomales Point Trail
Distance: 9.4 miles (out and back). Go early to avoid the crowd.
Highlight: This afternoon marries our two favorite things north of the Golden Gate: Hog Island oysters and hiking above Tomales Bay. Plan on using a car (or a kayak).
The (oyster) bar at the end of the trail: Hog Island and its picnic tables, right on the bay.
Refuel: As many oysters as you can eat, plus your choice of California white