Meet Paulina Dao and Dan Markey, Backpacker's San Francisco Trail Scouts

Our California experts sounds off on the best places to see redwoods and grab a post-hike brew.
paulina dao

Paulina Dao

Follow Paulina’s adventures on the Little Grunts blog, on Instagram @paulinadao, and Twitter @paulina_dao.

Age: 27

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Day job: Software QA Engineer

All-time favorite local dayhike: Probably the Matt Davis-Steep Ravine loop that starts in Stinson Beach. The ladder next to the creek is just magical.

Favorite local overnight hike: Anything in the Eastern Sierra or Desolation Wilderness.

Best prehike breakfast spot: Cafe Brasil in Santa Cruz, the açai bowls are bomb. For something a little closer to the Bay Area proper, Sidewalk Juice in Burlingame.

Best posthike dinner spot: The Monks Kettle in San Francisco has delicious brews and grub.

Favorite thing about hiking around San Francisco: Most tourists head to Muir Woods to see the redwoods, but the best spots to see the trees are in lesser-known state and county parks.

Top tip for San Francisco hikers: If you get to the trailhead by 8am, you'll most likely have the area to yourself for a few hours!

dan markey

Dan Markey

Age: 44

Hometown: Moraga, CA

Day job: Public administration

All-time favorite local dayhike: Bald Mountain, Sonoma. Wine Country and hiking in the same trip, anyone?

Favorite local overnight hike: John Muir Trail

Best prehike breakfast spot: Si Si Café, Moraga

Best posthike dinner spot: Hula Burger, Escalon, CA. I tend to gravitate toward that place on way back from Yosemite.

Favorite thing about hiking around Moraga: It's far enough from the Bay that one can avoid the crowds, yet close enough to enjoy cool breezes throughout the year.

Top tip for East Bay hikers: Buy Bay Area Trail Maps from Redwood Hikes Press. I got mine at REI, but they may be available online or at other locations. Makes for easy planning of quick excursions on short notice. Between mileage marks are very helpful for full- or half-day hikes.