There's a decent-sized blob of public forested space right behind my house. It's crisscrossed with unpaved bike trails -- and a good thing too, because it's difficult to walk through the forest off the trail without getting caught in dense coyote-scrub bushes or masses of poison oak. There's a little pond. From several points you can get a lovely panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay and/or the rest of the forest. All in all, it's quite the concentration of nature for someplace in the middle of a suburb.
One of my mini-projects for the summer is to learn my way around the forest trails. There are maps posted at the trailheads, but I'm challenging myself to use them as little as possible and to figure out the connectivity by myself, for two reasons. One, I'm too lazy to bother making myself a copy. Two, there are a number of "unofficial" trails that are perfectly walkable but aren't on the map. (I suppose the unofficial trails get made when people start riding their bikes down deer tracks or dry creek beds.) So I get to combine physical exercise, nature, and mental exercise. Three for the price of one!
Another point of interest: the forest is in a valley, so it's hard to find a piece of land that isn't steeply sloped (especially once you get away from the surrounding houses). Also, for some reason, the soil is such that trees fall over a lot, but often survive. So the whole place is full of trees with interesting geometries. There are horizontal trees. There are trees that form arches over creek beds -- they don't just sort of bend toward the creek, they actually start growing downward once they get to the other side, so you could almost climb up onto them from either end. Today, I saw a tree that, I kid you not, made four ninety-degree turns, each a foot or two apart.
Timprov, a friend of mine who's a pretty good photographer, is coming over tomorrow and we're going to poke around the woods and take photos of stuff. Should be fun.