Some people with dogs poo poo this trail because it is both paved and On Leash for the first 4 miles of it. However, The Nimitz Trail has some of the most stunning views of the Bay Area! You can see fantastic views of the Bay, The Golden Gate Bridge, The San Francisco Skyline, Mount Tamalpais, and the super lush and green San Pablo Reservoir. Nimitz Way was once an access road to an old Nike Missile site, and near the end of the trail there are remnant missile pads on a hilltop–but I haven’t made it that far yet!
There is a dirt trail that runs along much of the paved trail, and if you feel that your dog needs to be off leash for a bit of your hike, the Inspiration Point staging area also links to 3 other trails that are off leash : Curran Trail which intersects with both Meadows Canyon Trail, and Sea View trail just a short way in, it is easy to dip on to these for a quick in and out before you head up the Nimitz. Plenty of maps are available to take at the main trail head. Oh and it is also part of The Bay Area Ridge Trail and the East Bay Skyline Trail, if you are hiking those in sections. The Nimitz goes thru both Tilden and Wildcat, but I haven’t gone that far yet since this is an in and out trail for me, and I usually go no more than 3-miles…but one day!
This is one of the information panels at Inspiration point where the parking lot and staging area is, it overlooks the lush San Pablo Reservoir and illustrates all the wildflowers that used to grow there, and tells a bit of the history. There is also a trail thru the reservoir but you need a permit to hike it from East Bay Mud, and no dogs are allowed.
At the start of the trail there are bathrooms that lock, and the trail has benches here and there to take in the view. There isn’t any water along the trail, so plan accordingly. Much of the trail is ridge line hiking, and half shady/half sunny, be prepared with layers. Fog can also roll in, making the trail colder, as you can see in some of the photos. This trail alone is what made me invest in a good base layer shirt, as the first part to just past the first bench, is windy and usually cold for me in 3 of our seasons. The rest of the trail can be hot in the sun, and then you turn a corner and you are in the shade with wind, and get chilled if you have been sweating.
There are also hills to hike up and get better views,
This trail is usually quite busy, and I feel safe on it. Expect to see bicyclists–they are very good about letting you know they are passing on this trail, Joggers, and some Horses!
You can spot different kinds of birds and butterflies, we even saw a snake once right on the trail–another hiker stopped traffic in both directions so the snake could pass safely.and you will pass a grazing area with gates where you can see some cows too..Chico just stared at the cows the first time, now he doesn’t even look at them. He is pretty indifferent about horses as well, but he loves horse poop !!!
It is said that The Nimitz Trail, was the trail that hooked many people into hiking when they were dragged along with their families as kids. This was one of my go to trails when I was recovering from a sprained ankle, I was very grateful to have a trail that was easy to hike, yet felt remote from the city. It is still one of my go tos even without injury. I see all kinds of families and dogs on this trail. And I think that if you are taking your dog hiking for the first time, or still training trail manners, this is an excellent trail to practice on, I use both a 5 ft lead, and a 23 ft flexi leash on this trail.