Go Take A Hike & Other Great Outdoor Adventures

Published on April 30, 2015

The real gem of living in the Bay Area? The great outdoors.
Steve Siskin’s pick of the best places to go.

Steve Siskin, general manager for programing Fitness and Recreation at UC San Francisco, looks forward to outdoor activities in the Bay Area.

Siskin_resized“The weather is generally good and we can take advantage of the many outdoor activities the region offers,” he said. Steve, a Marin resident, said one of the easiest things to do is go hiking. “Hiking is great. You can go alone, or with family, and friends,” he said. “All you need is a pair of running shoes and you can easily experience world-class hiking right in your backyard.”

Steve directed Campus Life Services’ Outdoor Programs at UCSF for years and said the university makes it easy to take advantage of the fun opportunities just outside our back door. “We offer everything from kayaking trips after work to Tahoe cabin rentals.”

Here are some of Steve’s top picks for easy outdoor adventures in the Bay Area.

• Kayaking in Sausalito. “It’s a really nice location and you can see lots of wildlife including migrating birds and sea lions.” Richardson Bay, a protected inlet of San Francisco Bay, features harbor seals, sea lions, pelicans, cormorants, scoters, terns, and herons. UCSF Outdoor Programs offers kayaking expeditions in Richardson Bay.

• Stand Up Paddling (SUP) in Mission Creek. Mission Creek is one of San Francisco’s hidden gems. Paddle near AT&T Park where the creek is a bird nursery. You’ll find Belted Kingfishers, Anna’s Hummingbirds, Western Gulls, Mockingbirds, Robins, House Finches, Great Blue Herons and Pelicans.

• Point Reyes. Whether you are searching for a half-day hike or just a half-hour walk, Point Reyes offers something for everyone. It has close to 150 miles of hiking trails. “If you are lucky, you can see the grey whales migrating,” Steve said. The half-mile Earthquake Trail is great for beginners and explores the San Andreas Fault Zone. The 9.4-mile Estero Trail to Drakes Head offers spectacular views and, on a clear day, it’s possible to see bat rays and leopard sharks swimming just below the water’s surface.

• Muir Woods. Muir Woods National Monument contains six miles of trails suitable for both beginners and seasoned hikers. “If it rains, Muir Woods is an excellent place to hike because it has a large Redwood canopy that keeps you relatively dry,” Steve said.

• Mt. Tamalpais. Just North of the Golden Gate, Mt. Tam has more than 50 miles of hiking trails that connect to a larger, 200-mile long trail system. There are also mountain bike trails. Nestled in the forest is the Tourist Club, a private facility that promotes nature appreciation, outdoor activities, conservation, and international friendship and understanding. On certain weekends, the club is open to guests and offers a menu of authentic German/Austrian foods, and of course, excellent imported and domestic beers.

Green Gulch• Tennessee Valley. “This is a great hike for beginners,” Steve said. This offshoot of the Marin Headlands is easily accessible on the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1.7-mile trail is mostly level and travels to Tennessee Beach. Coordinate your visit with low tide and seasonal sand alignments to see the engine of the shipwrecked SS Tennessee. The area is rich in wildlife including deer, coyote and even bobcat.

“If you have more time, I would also suggest a trip to Big Sur or Yosemite,” Steve said. “The large crowds are gone and the weather is spectacular. It’s a great time to go camping and tide pooling.”

Trainer/Instructor: Steve Siskin
Education: Steve earned a Bachelors Arts degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from San Francisco State University, is a Wilderness First Responder, and Certified Personal Trainer.
Career: As the Outdoor Program Manager at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Steve Siskin led the outdoor adventure teambuilding activities and fitness programs for the University community for over 25 years.
Prior to rejoining UCSF in 2000, he was the Director of the Fort Miley Adventure Ropes Courses at San Francisco State University. Here, he developed programs designed to develop self-confidence, group cooperation, communication, and leadership and decision-making skills. Steve also worked as a whitewater raft guide, kayaking and ski instructor throughout the 1990’s for a variety of companies including Outdoors Unlimited at UCSF.

Steve began his career in experiential education as a whitewater raft guide at Environmental Traveling Companions in 1987. Here, he led raft trips for disabled youth and adults. Also, during this period, Siskin was Corporate Teambuilding Trainer, Adventure Associates. Here, he facilitated adventure-based teambuilding programs including ropes courses for fortune 500 companies.

Learn how you can take your next adventure with Outdoor Programs.