Summer Guide 2016

Outdoors

Trails, horses, beaches and open air.

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SELFIE-CISE: The strenuous climb and lack of shade will be worth it when reaching the top of Fremont's Mission Peak. The exercise isn't bad either.

Big Basin
It's hard to go wrong with a hike in Big Basin. About 20 miles outside of Santa Cruz in the wilderness that borders Highway 1, Big Basin boasts 80-plus miles of trail for every level of activity and interest: simple nature walks, full-day treks, and plenty of majestic scenery to make it worth the trip. If you've never been to Big Basin—California's oldest state park—summer's the time to check it out. (JA)

Stanford Dish Walk
Recently renovated, "the Dish Loop" or "Dish Hike" has been a favorite free outdoor activity for decades—a paved road that runs past the old satellite dish that looms over cattle fields and Interstate 280. There are a few inclines that can be a bit of a challenge, but you'll be rewarded with sweeping views of the South Bay. This is a great place for an early-morning stroll or a challenging run. Hours vary and bikes are prohibited, so check the web before you go. (JA)

Mission Peak
Get those selfie sticks ready. Mission Peak is perhaps the most popular hike in the South Bay, but that doesn't mean it's a cake walk. Made up of six miles of varied terrain and a punishing incline, Mission Peak trail leads up to the hills overlooking Fremont and greater Silicon Valley The decorative tower at the summit is a popular place for a celebratory "we did it!" Instagram post. This one's a doozy, so aim for a cool day, and bring plenty of water. (JA)

Henry Coe State Park
Straddling Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties and super-duper removed from the city, Henry W. Coe is Disneyland for nature lovers. More than 250 miles of trails and roads ready for hiking, campgrounds, fishing, horseback riding, and some good old-fashioned swimmin' holes make up the attractions to be found here. For hikers, Coe offers a dizzying array of trails, ranging from "pleasant jaunt" to "strenuous hike." If you've never been before, best to ask advice from a ranger on a trail best suited to you or your group's needs. (JA)

Uvas Canyon
Insert "chasing waterfalls" joke here. The star of the show at Uvas Canyon county park are its many waterfalls, but that's not all it has to offer. Just a short drive from the South County, Uvas Canyon has picnic areas, campgrounds (with flush toilets!), and is dog-friendly, so long as Rover's leashed. The waterfalls can all be visited on the popular Waterfall Loop, but for something a little different, pick the Contour Trail or the cardio-heavy Knibb's Knob or Knobcone. (JA)

Sea Horses
They say dogs are man's best friend. If that's true, horses have to come in a close second. These gentle, equine giants have been a part of civilization since time immemorial. One can feel the depth of that connection firsthand by taking a leisurely trot along the coast of Half Moon Bay, just over the Santa Cruz Mountains from Palo Alto. (NV)

Beaches Beyond
It's not hard to find a beach in Santa Cruz. Highway 17 dumps travellers from all points north onto Ocean Avenue which leads clueless first-timers straight to the Boardwalk or perhaps Sea Bright. Those with a bit more savvy hop on Highway 1 and head south. The only problem with that is resisting the urge to jump off the freeway at Capitola or New Brighton. The later is a good choice for a quick beachside camping trip. Those who enjoy more solitude will be rewarded for staying the southward course: Seacliff State Beach, Beer Can Beach, Sunset State Beach ... kayaking in Elkhorn Slough and amazing seafood is the bounty for those who push 30 minutes past Soquel. But the truly pro move is to double back and head north on Highway 1 at its terminus with 17. This is the way to Natural Bridges, Panther Beach, Davenport and Aņo Nuevo. (NV)

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