What is included in the fees listed on the Hiking & Pricing page?
The listed costs – $50, $75 or $100 per person, depending on which hike you choose — cover all the basics: a guided hike and reservations at a pre-arranged post-hike craft beer brewpub (or winery) near Mount Tam.
Obviously, the costs you incur at the post-hike celebration are your own. The Hills & Hops-friendly pubs/restaurants we’ll be visiting are amenable to one group tab (preferred) or individual checks. With larger groups (10+), you can arrange with me for a group discount by having everyone order from a limited menu.
If you have your own transportation to and from our meeting spot — which is usually post-hike venue — you’re all set. If not, Hills & Hops has relationships with several ground transportation companies and will make those arrangements and pass along the cost to your group.
The only other potential costs are for trail snacks and equipment (hiking poles are the No. 1 request, backpacks are No. 2). But most clients bypass the former by bringing their own trail munchies, and hiking poles and backpacks are completely optional on Mount Tam’s well-graded slops. If members of your group require either snacks or equipment, please arrange in advance. I’ll give you a client-friendly quote!
Does Hills & Hops offer group discounts?
Yes! Groups of 10+ are eligible for a Downhill Discount; Groups of 20+ are eligible for a Deep Discount. Contact me for details!
Do we need to be an experienced hikers?
The West Point Inn hike was designed for everyone. The Redwood hikes require some cardiovascular conditioning, while the Peak hikes are for those who are in shape.
The most common question I get from potential clients — “How far is the hike?” — isn’t the most relevant one, since most folks considering a hiking excursion can effortlessly walk a few miles per hour (the pace of our hikes) without difficulty. Rather, it’s the vertical gain of the hikes that is paramount to consider. The West Point Inn hike is relatively flat. The Redwood Hikes gain an average of 1,400 feet of elevation over 3-4 miles (and then, of course, descend over the same distance on the back half of the hike). The Peak hikes include an option for a beach-to-summit excursion, which gains 2,600 feet over 8 miles on the uphill side.
What should I bring?
Comfortable footwear with good traction. Comfortable clothing. Water. And snacks. In that order of priority.
FOOTWEAR: No, you don’t necessarily need boots to hike on Mount Tamalpais. The trails are well-maintained and exceptionally graded, and Hills & Hops hikes are designed to tackle the more challenging slopes on the uphill portion of the hikes. Why? NOBODY gets hurt going uphill. In other words, virtually all injuries occur navigating downhill slopes. So H&H hikes are designed to minimize downhill slippage. When scrutinizing your footwear, consider the traction, first and foremost. That said, most people are comfortable hiking Mount Tam in athletic or running shoes. But by all means, bring hiking boots if you have access to them.
CLOTHING: Top priority: Layers up top! Bay Area weather is notoriously quirky (Mark Twain is famous for uttering: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”). But the weather within a redwood microclimate like Mount Tam adds an additional component of unpredictability to the equation; the mountain’s ever-changing marine layers, specifically fog, can dramatically alter the temperature in a matter of minutes. Then there’s the fact that most hikers prefer to peel down for the uphill portion of the hike and add layers on the downhill. Me? I always bring a change of shirt for the downhill portion, since I’ve invariable sweated through the one I wore uphill.
As for below the waist, many women prefer yoga pants or other stretchy athletic bottoms for hiking, while guys tend to opt for more loose-fitting workout gear. But as long as you’re comfortable over several hours, you’re good to go. Jeans aren’t recommended, since cotton absorbs sweat and tends to chafe over longer hauls, but they’re fine for the shorter West Point Inn hikes. I’ll admit that I wear shorts year-round (even in winter) because I tend to run hot and, being from Ohio, I’m unfazed by Cali weather. But I stop short of enthusiastically recommended them for others, simply because coming in contact with poison oak is a year-round possibility on virtually any Bay Area hike. But if you’re among the 50% of the population that isn’t allergic to poison oak — or you trust products like Technu to protect you from infection (I do) — by all means, wear shorts.
WATER: This is non-negotiable. I recommend carrying a minimum of a pint/half-liter for the West Point Inn hike and a quart/liter for the Redwood and Peak hikes (we’ll pass refill stations on all Redwood and Peak routes).
SNACKS: On all the hikes, we’ll stop at the top of our uphill route — the midpoint of each trek — to pause to celebrate our accomplishment, bond and refuel. Some folks prefer sandwiches or deli wraps, while others, like me, prefer lighter fare such as almonds and and cheese sticks. Remember, we’ll have access to a real meal (and libations) at the end of the hike.
Are Hills & Hops excursions limited to Mount Tam/Marin County?
No. Mount Tamalpais is the focus of Hills & Hops hikes because it offers the Bay Area’s biggest scenic payoffs and a wide variety of hikes in a location easily accessible to groups based in San Francisco and Oakland/Berkeley. But Hills & Hops has conducted hikes throughout the Bay Area, and has relationships with brewpubs and restaurants throughout the nine-county area. So feel free to inquire about a hike in the area in which your company, organization or tour group is located.
My most recommended alternative locations:
SAN FRANCISCO: Urban Hike
PENINSULA: Purisma Creek Redwoods near Half Moon Bay; Sam McDonald County Park near LaHonda; Butano State Park near Pescadero.
SOUTH BAY/SAN JOSE: Portola Redwoods State Park west of San Jose.
EAST BAY: Redwood Regional Park in Oakland; Mount Diablo State Park in the Walnut Creek/Clayton/Concord area.