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Travel / June 4, 2015

Short Day / Long Day: Hayward’s hills

Written by: bootprints

If you’ve been to Hayward lately, chances are it wasn’t to hike. Chances are you were there to do some shopping at the Southland Mall… or you were dragged there by someone who was.

But not too far from Home Depot and Jamba Juice are acres of rolling hills created by the Hayward Fault Zone. With 3,019 combined acres, the Garin/Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Parks offer short hikes—a good way to de-stress after braving retail chaos—and longer hikes for a full day of exploration.

Short Day: Garin Peak

From the summit of Garin Peak, hikers get a full view of the San Francisco Bay Area and landmarks like Mt. Tamalpais, Mission Peak, and Mt. Hamilton. Usually that sort of panorama takes hard work… but not here. The 3.3-mile loop up the mountain climbs just a few hundred feet.

The trail winds through coast live oaks, eucalyptus, and olive trees on the way up the peak. It’s not uncommon for keen birdwatchers to spot kestrel diving after unlucky mice or lizards.

If you go: Start at the Garin Regional Park visitors center, and take the paved Old Homestead Trail along Dry Creek. About 100 yards past a cattle grate, take the Vista Peak Loop Trail out to the peak. On weekends and holidays, the park charges a $5 parking fee and a $2 fee for dogs. Bikes and horses are welcome.

Long Day: Tolman Peak

Photo by Globe Images. Photo has been cropped.

The trail up Tolman Peak serves as proof that great things can be found in unlikely places. The 9.6-mile lollipop loop is situated right in the middle of a heavy industrial/residential area, but all hikers will notice are the views of the Santa Cruz mountains and the wildflowers that dot the hills.

Most of the Tolman Peak Trail is singletrack, but the hike also follows some dirt roads. Portions wind through eucalyptus trees and other wooded areas, but the bulk of the trail is exposed to the views… and the sun.

If you go: Start at the Garin Regional Park visitors center, then head south on the Dry Creek Trail with Jordan Pond to the right. Take the short connector trail to Meyers Ranch Trail and cross Dry Creek. Shortly after, bear left on the Tolman Peak Trail at an intersection. On weekends and holidays, the park charges a $5 parking fee and a $2 fee for dogs. Bikes are not allowed.

Words by Brian Krans.

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