100 Hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area, by Marc J. Soares (The Mountaineers Books, 2001, 239 pages, $15.95) has something for everyone, from the novice to the serious hiker. Organized into seven regions, the guide offers trail distance, estimated hiking time, elevation gain, and degree of difficulty, among other useful facts. From easy routes such as the 4.2-mile San Andreas Lake trail in San Mateo County to the more strenuous 8.7-mile loop on Bald Mountain and Brushy Peak in eastern Alameda, the guide is full of useful maps and photos. Most of the suggested hikes are within a one-hour drive of San Francisco.
Not all great hikes are great for families. Best Hikes With Children in the San Francisco Bay Area, 2nd Edition, by Bill and Kevin McMillon (The Mountaineers Books, 2002, 269 pages, $14.95), keeps that in mind. With suggested turn-around points for tired children, as well as advice for hiking with little ones, the easy-to-use guide highlights scenic routes and is helpful for planning a family outing. All of the hikes are easy enough for small children or for adults with limited mobility, and they range from half-mile strolls to five-mile treks.
For those who take a more vertical approach to nature, Rock Climbing the San Francisco Bay Area, by Tresa Black (Falcon, 2002, 227 pages, $25), recommends 24 ascents within a two-hour drive of the city. With historical and geological information on many of the featured crags, the guide gives climbers added context for their extreme pursuits. Black recommends unique climbs with varied degrees of difficulty, such as Mount Tamalpais (“a must for beginner climbers”) and the more difficult Fort Ross boulders along the Sonoma Coast.
Ray Hosler’s Bay Area Bike Rides, 3rd Edition (Chronicle Books, 2002, 224 pages, $14.95), offers some 51 options for those whose passion is biking. The guide is divided into three categories—mountain bike rides, road rides, and casual rides. Appropriate for all skill levels and interests, Bay Area Bike Rides lists distance, terrain, and traffic conditions for each route, including the 47-mile Chileno Valley path and the 16-mile Los Gatos Creek Trail. Hosler highlights some natural phenom-ena to watch for, such as the monarch butterflies that winter in the eucalyptus trees along Highway 1 north of Bolinas.
Ann Marie Brown, who last wrote 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area (Foghorn Outdoors, 2000, 318 pages, $15.95), trades in her hiking boots for a biking helmet in Northern California Biking: 150 of the Best Road and Trail Rides (Foghorn Outdoors, 2002, 450 pages, $19.95). The book is divided into eight chapters, including one on the Bay Area. Brown offers best bets, such as favorite rides for families (Bear Valley Trail at Point Reyes) and best rides through history (Perimeter Trail at Angel Island), and accompanies them with useful maps for each ride.
Covering a variety of activities, Golden Gate Trailblazer: Where to Hike, Stroll, Bike, Jog, Roll in San Francisco and Marin, by Jerry and Janine Sprout (Diamond Valley Co., 2001, 288 pages, $17.95, www.trailblazertravelbooks.com), is a book-length answer to the question, “What to do?” In this densely packed but well-organized book, the Sprouts include 300 hiking trails, 200 bike rides, 100 jogging paths, and 50 roller/stroller paths, as well as museums and historic sites.
Despite being officially recognized only last fall, the California Coastal Trail has long been considered one of the nation’s best long-distance hikes. Companion books by Bob Lorentzen and Richard Nichols help navigate the 1,200-mile route, which is finally receiving state funding. Hiking the California Coastal Trail: Volume One (Bored Feet/Coastwalk, 2002, 320 pages, $19.50) covers the route from the Oregon border to Monterey. The guide blends standard maps and trail descriptions with sidebars highlighting the historical and political background of the terrain. </p