It’s a simple recipe.

Give me a good view in a quiet space and I’m quickly renewed with feelings of calm, joy and clarity. Soaking in that long view is like taking a spiritual bath — the cognitive rinse my scrambled brain so regularly needs. It’s become my trusted medicine, just rinse and repeat.

As it turns out, there is a growing body of scientific research around the positive effects of experiencing awe in the outdoors. That’s right, nature’s most profound healing power may be simply its ability to blow our minds. From increasing our general well-being, to feelings of altruism and generosity, to feeling more connected with one another, science has uncovered a wide range of physical and psychological benefits that can come from jaw-dropping experiences with Mother Nature.

It’s very important for us to pursue these feelings, to seek time in big open spaces with incredible views and to feel small — in a good way — in the immensity of the natural world. I hope you can find time outdoors to seek those feelings of awesomeness and take in the view. Yes, I’m telling you to go be awesome!

It’s just what the doctor ordered.

Here’s where to start:

Coyote Valley view - POST

Coyote Valley

Just 20 miles from downtown San Jose, this preserve boasts some of the best views in the South Bay. From two scenic overlooks along the four-mile Arrowhead Loop Trail, you’ll see Mount Hamilton, Mount Umunhum and the entire Coyote Valley. Pack a lunch and enjoy an entire day in this 384-acre preserve.

Activities: hiking, biking, equestrian

Mileage: 4-mile loop

Elevation change: 575 feet

Driving directions: here

A good view of the ocean from Wilburs Watch

Wilbur’s Watch

From the trailhead’s small parking lot on Pigeon Point Road, this trail heads uphill through coastal scrub to a vista platform and seating area. The views of nearby Pigeon Point Lighthouse, also on land protected by POST, are one of a kind.

Activities: hiking

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation change: 260 feet

Driving directions: here

A good view from Bair Island - POST

Bair Island

Opened in late 2015, Bair Island is the largest island in the South Bay, spanning over 3,000 acres. It’s a complex mosaic of twisted tidal channels, mudflats and salt marsh vegetation. There are two viewing platforms where you can perch and watch the tide change.

Activities: hiking, biking, wheelchair accessible

Distance: 0.8 miles round trip to the closer observation platform, or 3.2 to the farther one

Elevation change: flat

Driving directions: here

A good view from Rancho Corral de Tierra - POST

Rancho Corral de Tierra

Less than 10 miles from San Francisco, the 4,262-acre Rancho Corral de Tierra offers awe-inspiring ocean views, habitat for several endangered species, vital watersheds and rich farmland. Keep a lookout for endangered San Francisco garter snakes and whales breaching off the coast.

Activities: hiking, equestrian

Distance: 4 miles round trip

Elevation change: 900 feet

Driving directions: here

A good view from Windy Hill - POST

Windy Hill

Climb to the summit of Windy Hill, the site of POST’s first land acquisition, for 360-degree views of Portola Valley, Mount Diablo and, on extremely clear days, the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There’s also a shorter trail option leading to the summit if that’s preferred.

Activities: hiking, horseback riding, dogs

Distance: 7.5-mile loop

Elevation change: 1,400 feet

Driving directions: here

Good view from Mindego Hill - POST

Mindego Hill 

You can drive right to this view making it accessible for those with mobility challenges or families with small kids. The Audrey C. Rust Commemorative Site is a short distance from the parking area and offers spectacular views of nearby Mindego Hill. For the adventurous, follow the Mindego Hill Trail to the summit for 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape.

Activities: hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, wheelchair accessible

Distance: 4.6 miles

Elevation change: 1,300 feet

Driving directions: here

Good view of Mt Umunhum - POST

Mount Umunhum

You can drive right to this view as well. Reach the summit by driving to the top of Mount Umunhum Road for 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, South Bay and Sierra Nevada Mountains. The word “Umunhum” means “resting place of the hummingbird,” and this summit is a culturally significant site for the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band as well as many other Indigenous people.

Activities: hiking, horseback riding, biking, wheelchair accessible

Driving directions: here

About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more

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