Five Family-Friendly Bay Area Hikes

Spring is the beginning
of hiking season for many Bay Area families, and whether you’ve got infants strapped to your backs or toddlers attached to your hand, there’s many a trail out there for the nature-loving clan. These five (plus a bonus!) trails are relatively flat, with several clocking in at under a mile. Regardless, you can be certain to hang about for awhile, as the colors and sounds of spring on these trails are sure to keep the young ones in the outdoors.

Jewel Lake Nature Trail
This gem of a hike in Berkeley’s Tilden Park is leisurely enough for toddlers. Begin at the Environmental Education Center by Little Farm, where you can pick up a booklet for a self-guided tour of Jewel Lake, then veer away from the farm and the crowd to escape into a delightful little haven. 750 feet of boardwalk through the woods lead you to the lake in fairytale fashion. You’ll enjoy pointing at turtles, ducks, butterflies, and birds, and at just under a mile long without hills, this hike leaves you plenty of room to walk slowly and stop often.

Tennessee Valley
A family favorite, Tennessee Valley offers a level trail that won’t leave you huffing and puffing. Warm Winter days and Spring are great times to walk this trail, as the poppies, buttercups, and blue-eyed grass will be in full bloom and the birds will be singing. Walk the picturesque scenery between the hills of Mill Valley and you’ll reach Tennessee Beach in less than 2 miles, where you can reward yourselves with a seaside picnic.

[rt_marketplace_drop_in title=”A HIKE FOR ALL AGES THROUGH THE TENNESSEE VALLEY” photo=”746790″ shopify_url=””%5DThe rambling paths of your local city park are perfect for a casual afternoon, but if you want to show your kids the splendor of the Marin Headlands, there is no place like Tennessee Valley in Mill Valley. Sunday, June 14th [/rt_marketplace_drop_in]

Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve
Even the name is sweet, and this little hike in the Oakland hills is a treasure for the fam to enjoy. One thing you’ll notice immediately is Huckleberry’s lushness—the flowers here seem to be in bloom all year and the foliage is everywhere. In fact, Huckleberry hosts plant species that are rare to the East Bay, with origins in an ancient geological past. At only 1.7 miles with a tame upper trail, the hike is well worth the family’s afternoon.

Land’s End
For a walk in the city, this destination feels as remote as the mountain trails. Cypress-filled Land’s End leads you along the San Francisco coastline, from the Sutro Baths to the Legion of Honor, and the views of the Golden Gate, Marin Headlands, and San Francisco are picture perfect. It’s nicely paved for hikers of every level, and there’s no need to go off the main path to the many pocket beaches in between. The Coastal Trail alone is 11 miles, but it branches off to a doable 3.5 mile loop.

Thornewood Open Space Preserve
This 167-acre getaway near Woodside hosts an easy hike for the family–the .75-mile Schilling Lake Trail, winding through oaks, maples, and redwoods before reaching the lake. The .7-mile Bridle Trail opens this year, emerging into an oak canopy forest. While it will only take an hour to walk this distance, you’ll want to take your time, observing the hummingbirds and honeysuckle as you navigate through sun and shade. Don’t forget your little ones’ hiking hats!

Muir Woods National Monument
If you haven’t been to Muir woods in a while it’s worth a visit.  You’ll feel as though you’re walking among kings as you traverse the mile and a half boardwalk that meanders through one of the last old growth redwood forests on the west coast. The trees are the main attraction of course, but you can see gorgeous ferns, migrating birds, coho salmon and steelhead trout in the creek.  If you are adventurous, you can leave the boardwalk, and head up a series of trails that connect with the lengthy trail system on Mt. Tam. You can also go slow, and spend the afternoon in the glory of this natural cathedral. Temperatures are chilly, and the forest is damp, so bring a sweater, even in the summer. There is a $5 entrance fee per adult, children are free.

Have a favorite hike to do with your fam that’s not on this list? Let us hear about it!

—Renee Rutledge

Don’t Miss:

Best Wildflower Hikes

Family Field Trip: Green Gulch Farms

Visit a Botanical Garden


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