Sunset hikes to celebrate the summer solstice

June 20, 2013

What better way to celebrate the end of the week and the ascent of summer than an evening hike ending with a breathtaking sunset?

Friday marks the longest day of the year, with the sun rising at 5:48 AM and setting at 8:35 PM.  The summer solstice sunset is the sun’s final hurrah before it begins its long descent into winter, and the Bay Area boasts some of the most beautiful places to witness sunsets. A celebratory solstice hike is a must-do endeavor.

To top off the spectacle, the moon, two days shy of full, will be rising at 5:53 PM to usher you safely back to your cars after the sun says goodnight.  If you’re looking to honor the beauty of nature’s transition, check out Bay Nature’s selected list of spectacular sunset hikes.

Photo: Miguel Vieira/Flickr.
Photo: Miguel Vieira/Flickr.

Tennessee Valley Loop, Marin

Ten minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge lies Tennessee Valley Beach, a gorgeous alcove tucked between two golden ridgelines.  The full loop ensures that you gain elevation and a scenic outlook, as well as enjoy the flat wetland landscape of the valley itself.  The beach is a perfect place to view the sunset after coming down off the ridge, since a night hike back through the valley is flat, well-marked, and will be well lit by the moon.  If you’re looking for a quicker mission, a there-and-back on the Tennessee Valley Trail is easy and beautiful!

Photo: Cityofpk/Flickr.
Photo: Cityofpk/Flickr.

Fort Funston, San Francisco

Bring your dog along for an unforgettable stroll along the striking coastline at Fort Funston.  This accessible, short loop trail includes cypress trees, sea figs, massive cliffs, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.  The beach is accessible via a steep trail down, and the intrepid hiker can (at your own risk) explore some of the main trail’s offshoots, which guarantee secluded sunset viewpoints.  The main trail ends at a stunning lookout, with miles of coastline in view.  Make sure to bring a windbreaker and a jacket on this must-do hike for the SF local.

Photo: Mary Mactavish/Flickr.
Photo: Mary Mactavish/Flickr.

Don Edwards Tidelands Trail or Don Edwards Coyote Hills Trail, Fremont

South Bay natives, grab your sneakers or mount your bikes for a relaxed trail full of wildlife spectacles—many native mammals, insects, reptiles, and birds have homes in these tidelands and the hills on their banks.  This trail is accessible for those with a disability, so no one gets left behind on this bayside adventure.  The hills trail boasts wildflowers, while the tidelands trail has wooden bridges that enable you to walk upon the salt ponds and view the animals up close.

Photo: Miguel Vieira/Flickr
Photo: Miguel Vieira/Flickr

Briones to Acalanes Ridgetop Hike, Martinez

East Bay hikers looking to gain some elevation for the solstice sunset should head to Briones, where rolling golden hills sprinkled with massive oaks offer expansive views of Mt. Diablo and the entire Bay Area.  The ridgeline hosts wildflowers and birds, and when the trail dips down into the gullies, you are briefly immersed in gorgeous woodlands.   The trail is one-way and should done as a there-and-back stroll.  Bring your dogs and enjoy Friday evening on a quintessentially Californian landscape.


Will Fraker is a Bay Nature editorial intern. 

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