Great Runs is the ultimate guide to the best places to go running in the world’s major cities and destinations. We’re pleased to share this content through a partnership with Runkeeper.
When you hear ‘Bay Area’, you think of San Francisco’s running highlights – Crissy Field, the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County. But the Bay Area also includes famed Silicon Valley, the 40-mile stretch from San Francisco Airport south to San Jose, home to more than 3 million people and many of the world’s iconic tech companies.
Silicon Valley offers great variety for runners, featuring trails by the Bay, rolling, open hill runs, redwood forests, linear parks, and beautiful residential neighborhoods. Plus, the weather’s often sunnier and warmer than in San Francisco! Here are some of our Silicon Valley favorites, plus some tips on where to stay in order to be near good running routes. Our complete guide to running in Silicon Valley is here.
Near San Francisco Airport
Stuck at an SFO airport hotel or flight delayed? Don’t despair, the San Francisco Bay Trail is there! The trail runs along East Bay for 6 miles north of the airport, and an even better section runs south for 9 miles to the San Mateo Bridge. Full route info.
Palo Alto Area
Palo Alto is the heart of Silicon Valley. It’s also home of many tech companies, a vibrant downtown, Stanford University, and some beautiful residential neighborhoods. Our hands-down favorite in the area is the Stanford Dish run. Accessible from the center of Palo Alto and the Stanford Campus, this 5- mile loop features open pastureland, a small lake, and great views of the university. We also love the residential neighborhood on either side of University Ave. east of downtown. The Olmsted-designed Stanford Campus is bucolic for running as well.
On the eastern shore between Palo Alto and San Jose, this remarkable series of trails and parks incorporates a series of undisturbed tidal marshland (Sloughs) called the Baylands. There are miles of trails, in three main sections: East Palo Alto; Mountain View (near Google and NASA); and in the Sunnyvale/San Jose area (the Alviso trails). See our full guide to the Baylands, with multiple maps.
Hills and Preserves Near Rt. 280
I-280 runs through the greener, hillier part of Silicon Valley. There’s a wonderful series of parks and preserves, each within a ten-minute drive of the highway, with a great variety of terrain, from hills to pastures, lakes, farms, and wooded trails. Our favorites:
- Rancho San Antonio. 3 miles from Apple’s HQ. 4,000 acre open space preserve with open meadows, fields, wooded trails, and a farm. Trail Map.
- Sawyer Camp Recreational Trail. 6-mile paved trail between Millbrae and Crystal Sprints, paralleling I-280. Trail Map.
- Huddardt Park. 900 acre preserve with more forested trails. Good for a hot day!
- Wunderlich Park. Hillside park with trails through redwood groves, open meadows, and beautiful oaks and madrones.
- Pearson-Arastradero Preserve, Foothills Park & Nature Preserve, and Los Trancos Open Space Preserve are all worth checking out.
The best options right in the city are the 9-mile Guadelupe River Trail, which runs along the water from the heart of downtown San Jose to San Francisco Bay; and the Los Gatos Creek Trail, which starts 3 miles south of San Jose and meanders through several parks and into the hills of Los Gatos. Click here for our complete San Jose running guide.
Where to Stay for Running
Silicon Valley has its share of traffic and sprawl, and you can easily get stuck at a hotel on a busy road where a pleasant run is not outside your doorstep. The maps below show some of our favorite routes, by location. East of the 101, the best runs center on the Bay and are more water-centric, incorporating the Bay Trail closer to SFO and the Baylands areas from Palo Alto to San Jose. West of the 101, and near I-280 is more focused on parks, hills and trail running.