Raise your eyes to the north just about anywhere in the Bay Area and you'll see at least a corner of 2,571-foot-tall Mount Tamalpais, about a 45-minute drive from downtown San Francisco. Unassuming at first glance, the mountain can be much more challenging than its height might suggest; its steep flanks are dotted with rocky canyons, waterfalls, and hidden springs. Still, there's the gentle Rock Springs Loop, which follows the Rock Springs and Laurel Dell trails for a level, well-shaded distance of about 4 miles round-trip.
Next: A walk that ends with a soak.
— Photo by Coral Von Zumwalt
Even on vacation, Americans tend to see the world at 65 mph. But as a walker and constant traveler, I've discovered that our nation's virtually limitless trails offer a new, more leisurely perspective on everything from wild rivers to architectural wonders. Here are six of my favorite places to walk. Some are in the wild, others are in the city (and still others are in the wild in the city!), but all are easy to get to — with rewards you'll reap only on foot.