San Franciscans don’t have to venture far to escape civilization. Miles of underdeveloped beaches and seaside hills abut city limits, while some of the state’s finest natural scenery is just about an hour away. Take Point Reyes National Seashore—a life-list spot that’s just 40 miles from downtown. There, chaparral ridges mingle with forested canyons and rocky coves, providing a killer backdrop for a quiet weekend getaway. Tour it on the 15.8 mile Mt. Wittenberg Loop.
Turn by turn Take the Mt. Wittenberg Trail 2.1 miles to the 1,407-foot summit before descending the Woodward Valley Trail to Coast Camp at mile 6.1. (Watch the sunset from the eucalyptus tree swing on the .1 mile side trail to Santa Maria Beach.) Views of cliffs and sea stacks abound during the next day’s 3.8-mile southbound ramble along the Coast Trail. Turn left and head up the ridge on the Sky Trail at mile 9.8 for views of the Pacific before rejoining the Mt. Wittenberg Trail and retracing your steps back to the visitor center to complete the lollipop-loop. Back at the trailhead, catch the #68 bus to San Anselmo. (You could turn this route into a loop with no backtracking by stringing the Bear Valley Trail into the itinerary, but expect plenty of company on the gravel path.)
Get there On weekdays from downtown San Francisco, ride bus #27 ($6.75, 50 mins; departures 8:44 a.m. to 5:08 p.m.) to San Rafael and transfer to the #68 bus ($2, 1 hr. 10 mins; departures 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.) to the Bear Valley Visitor Center. On weekends, take the #101 bus from downtown San Francisco ($6.75, 1 hr.; departures 5:59 a.m. to 1 a.m.) and connect to the #68 in San Rafael.