Some of my favorite trails,
McNee Ranch State Park, California State Parks, San Mateo County
8 mile partial loop starts with a killer climb to the top of Montara Mountain, but the return is all downhill.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 8 mile partial loop hike is moderately strenuous, climbing from the trailhead to North Peak on steep trails, with about 1800 feet in elevation change. Trailhead elevation is about 100 feet. The park's highest (accessible) elevation is about 1840 feet. Shorter loops are available.
Almost totally exposed.
Dirt fire roads and trails.
Mount Diablo State Park, National Park Service, Contra Costa County
Mitchell Canyon is a popular staging area for long Diablo hikes. From here you can make an all-day excursion to Diablo's summit, a 14-mile round-trip from 590 to 3,849 feet and back again-one of the Bay Area's toughest day hikes.
The West Ridge Trail to Chalk Mountain from Waddle creek.
The West Ridge Trail is one of the most challenging and scenic trails in Big Basin. This epic day hike begins in the pretty Rancho del Oso valley, climbing 1,000 feet to a ridgetop with some outstanding scenic vistas along the way. The trail then follows a redwood-covered ridge before breaking out into open chaparral and climbing Chalk Mountain, offering sweeping views over Big Basin and the coast. The West Ridge Trail is designated a "horse trail", which in Big Basin seems to mean "steep and gravelly".
A complete round-trip hike on this trail, returning on Highway One, would be 19 miles.
I have done Chalk Mountain a few different ways, McNee twice and Diablo once, mostly in 2010-11. All have great views and increase the addiction. It's funny you posted this topic as I was thinking, or more musing, about another stint of hiking last weekend. Thanks for posting Thomas.