Roll Out! Kid-Friendly Bay Area Bike Trails

An African American family rides bikes together on a sunny day iStock
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It’s always a good day for a family bike ride. The warmer weather makes it even easier to enjoy the outdoors and a nice ride on a cool day hits the spot for all ages. Whether you’re looking for sloped bike paths or milder trails for your little tykes (or those tagging along in cargo), we’ve got you covered with our round-up of kid-friendly bike trails. Happy Riding!

A group of bikers ride near the Golden Gate Bridge
Presidio Trust

San Francisco

Mission Creek Park
Scenic views are in abundance at Mission Creek Park. From views of Oracle Park in the background, this approximately half-mile long, tiled and wide pathway has plenty of room for your little rider to cruise. The path runs along Mission Creek in San Francisco’s Mission Bay/SOMA neighborhood. Bonus: This park boasts some of the city’s cleanest public restrooms.

Rider Tip: You can access Mission Creek from Channel or Berry Street between 4th and 5th streets. Check out a map and get more info at missionbayparks.com.

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Golden Gate Park
A true community gem, it is not surprising that this park boasts some of the best bicycle paths for little ones, with just a few mild gradients. Note: On Sundays and holidays, John F. Kennedy Drive is closed to car traffic from Stanyan Street—where the Panhandle begins—to 20th Avenue. This leaves it free and clear for bicycles, skaters and pedestrians. Score!

Rider Tip: Several bicycle rental companies are located just outside the park. More info.

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Crissy Field
There’s so much for bike-riding families to do at Crissy Field. Not only can you bike from Marina Green to Fort Point, but you can enjoy a picnic along the way and fly a kite when the kids want a break. Need we say more?

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McLaren Bike Park
This half-acre bike park in San Francisco serves the Bay Area and beyond. A first of its kind for the city, the park opened in 2017 and has features for the beginner and challenge-seeking rider.  Additional park development plans include advanced-level bike features such as flowing trails, berms, progressive table top jumps, dirt jumps, wooden ladders, wall rides, a pump track and more. Read the full scoop here.

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Angel Island
Coastal views and a sea breeze await you and your little adventurers on Angel Island. Hit the Perimeter Road, a six-mile, partially paved path that casually loops around the island. With plenty of opportunities for Instagram-worthy pitstops, the circuitous road boasts a 360-degree panorama of the entire San Francisco Bay. The best part? No cars are allowed on the Island so little riders can let off steam, while parents can hang out and enjoy the view.

Rider Tip: You can also rent bikes on the Island on a first-come, first-served basis.

two girls bike by a pond
Christine Lai

East Bay

Coyote Hills Regional Park—Fremont
With rolling hills perfect for biking and hiking, the diverse areas of this park also lends to a day of picnicking and bird watching at the marshlands so that the family can easily make an entire afternoon out of a visit. Keep your eyes peeled for turkeys, deer, egrets and eagles! 

Insider's tip: Parking fee applies at the official parking lot but if your crew is willing to ride a bit longer, a free lot is available 1/2 miles down the road 

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Iron Horse Regional Trail—Danville
Here you'll find over 40 miles of paved path for walking, running and biking. It's the perfect layout for toddlers to scooter or ride on the bike path while you push a stroller nearby. It is mostly flat and you’ll find plenty of parking.

Rider Tip:
If you park at Hillgrade Ave. in Alamo and head south you'll pass by some horses on the left. Keep walking and you'll see some backyard chickens too!

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Redwood Regional Park—Oakland
Tucked inside Oakland’s Redwood Regional Park, you and your tots will enjoy this one-mile paved, flat trail through a magical redwood forest. With plenty of room for little legs to pedal or run, both open meadow and trails provide a nature-rich adventure for all ages. Added Bonus: The Stream Trail is paved far enough along the route for a decent bicycle or tricycle ride.

Getting There: The main entrance, Redwood Gate, is on Redwood Road in Oakland about two miles east of Skyline Blvd.

Rider Tip: Be sure to check the website before you go to see if there are any road closures.

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Dirt World Bike Park—Richmond
Dirt World is a 2.1-acre public bicycle skills park. Geared for mountain bikes and BMX bikes, the park features tracks, trails and challenging obstacles for riders of all ages and ability levels. The park is one of 17 volunteer-run adopt-a-spots located on the Richmond Greenway, a 3-mile long bikeway that stretches across central Richmond.

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Contra Costa Canal Trail—Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek & Concord

This picturesque paved path is perfect for little cyclists who might still have the wobbles and don’t want to deal with hills. Running along the Contra Costa Canal, the trail is popular with joggers and horseback riders, too. Since it runs nearly 14 miles in a rough horseshoe, riders can pick it up in several different staging areas and ride a portion or two—or the whole thing. Fun Fact: During your trek, parents can talk with kids along the way about how the Canal provides drinking water to Martinez and other cities, pumped in from the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta. The landscape is diverse, including forested areas as well as more open spaces.

Rider Tip: It’s easy to pick up the trail near the Pleasant Hill BART station. If you drive, finding street parking is fairly easy.

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Four Star Cyclery

Bay Farm Island Loop Trail—Alameda
Get ready for beautiful bay views! The neighborhood of Bay Farm is a charming little enclave of Alameda. A nice flat grade, this six-mile paved loop is ideal for getting those newbie pedal-pushers some serious practice in a scenic setting. The bike path goes through Shoreline Park at the northern end and around the Chuck Corica Municipal Golf Complex. Need to make a pit stop? Shoreline Park has several restrooms.

Rider Tip: Download this handy map, and you’re on your way!

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Lake Chabot—Castro Valley
Lake views anyone? There's a little over 12 miles of bike trails here and it's perfect for your next family biking adventure. Why you ask? For young kids, you can shorten your ride  by staying on the Shore Trail, which is a flat, paved service road that extends about 8 miles along Lake Chabot. From the marina, you can simply ride out along the lake, and when you’ve pedaled enough, you can head back.

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Pleasanton BMX Park
This bike park has a smaller footprint and is sort of the BMX/Mountain Bike equivalent of a skate park. You'll find it less crowded during morning hours. There's no fee to park or enter and parents can watch or ride as they wish. Location: 3320 Stanley Blvd, Pleasanton.

Peninsula

A family bikes through the woods
iStock

Peninsula

Coyote Point Recreation Area Trails—San Mateo
This bike trail area is a great place to introduce new cyclists to two-wheeled action, or to help get those training wheels off—finally! Several paved pathways connect to different areas of the park. Be sure to observe all posted speed limits and be aware of those out for a stroll. Cyclists should also stay on the designated paths—added bonus: they’re all paved! 

Rider Tip: For directions, hours and more visit the County of San Mateo Parks site.

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Saddle Loop Trail—San Bruno
Got older kids? Check out Saddle Loop Trail, a two-mile gravel loop that passes through a eucalyptus grove and mature cypress trees up on top of San Bruno Mountain. Zip along the satisfyingly crunchy limestone and breathe in that sweet eucalyptus scent all while taking in stellar views of the Bay, San Francisco Skyline and Sutro Tower. 

Getting There: Access the Trail from the Main Parking Lot and stay south of Guadalupe Canyon Road. You can get directions here.

Rider Tip: You might see some horseback riders and hikers along the trail, but no dogs are allowed in the park. For more information, visit the County of San Mateo Parks site.

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Shoreline at Mountain View
This 750-acre wildlife and recreation area provides a beautiful setting by the Bay and has gorgeous views of the mountains to the west and east across the bay. Shoreline at Mountain View is home to an eight-mile network of trails, bridges and roadways for walking, jogging, biking and inline skating. 

Getting there: From 101, exit at Rengstorff Ave. and follow directions to Michael's at Shoreline where there is a large parking lot. 

Rider Tip: Find out about closures by checking the website here

A bike path along the SUnnyvale Baylands
Sunnyvale Baylands

Bay Trail Sunnyvale
Connected to Baylands Park, families can go hiking, bird watching or bring your bikes to check out the nature trails that abound here. Park for free in the Twin Creeks parking lot. 

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Crystal Springs Trail—San Mateo
This trail runs along Highway 280. If you start at the trailhead of the San Andres Trail and end at the Cañada Road, you would have covered 13 miles–a nice ride indeed! 

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Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail
This 10-mile round trip coastal bike trail is breathtaking. In addition to skirting beachfront shores and coastal bluffs, you’ll zip under giant cypress trees and across bridges that extend over rippling creeks and lush riparian habitats. Added Bonus: In spring, the path is enveloped by colorful wildflowers. More info

South Bay

Marc Stosberg via Unsplash

Los Alamitos Creek Trail—San Jose
Great for beginners, one long paved straightaway that’s shaded by trees makes the Los Alamitos Creek Trail a great choice for a warm day. Feeling more ambitious? Why not tackle the full 4.7-mile length that connects to the Almaden Creek Trail. The bike path runs along the creek from Los Alamitos Park and Lake Almaden south to McKean Road. With no undulations, it should be a breeze for everyone in the family.

Rider Tip: The trail is located off Winfield Boulevard. For more information, visit the sanjoseca.gov website. Parking can be limited, so plan ahead.

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Los Gatos Creek Trail—Campbell, San Jose & Los Gatos
This trail follows the creek through many different neighborhoods and is great for bike riders of every level. It's almost completely flat and you can stop along the way to check out the birds in the creek and the playgrounds (when they are open). 

Rider Tip: There are numerous entry points in Campbell and Los Gatos with parking lots in Vasona and along the street. Check here for more information. 

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Calabazas BMX Park—San Jose
This is a rare, free, public BMX park with three sections of the park to ride in. Kids and adults of all ages and abilities are able to enjoy the challenges of the park. An excellent BMX park with a safe atmosphere and lots of fun. Check the website for more info. 

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Lake Cunningham Bike Park—San Jose
This is California's largest skate park (68,000 square feet!!). Spread over 8.5 acres with seven diverse riding zones to challenge riders of all skill levels, the park is worth the visit. There is a parking fee but the extensive thrills offered at the park make up for it. More details here.

Rider Tip: Single day admissions are $10 with options to rent out bikes, scooters, helmets, etc.

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Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy
Christmas Hill Park has many amenities to choose from and trail-lovers will not be disappointed. Short and sweet, cyclists can cruise the 1.3 mile (3,000 steps) wooded trail bordered by green trees. Need a fun break? Stop for a break at the playground for slides and swings before finishing their ride. 

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Dennis Debell Uvas Creek Park Preserve, Gilroy

Craving naturalistic views? Dennis Debell Uvas Creek Park is another great option for a calming bike ride. The park preserve sits on 125 acres and has over 2 miles of bicycle trails for your little pedalers to breeze through. The Uvas Creek runs through the park providing a tranquil vibe for your ride.

A kid rides a mountain bike

Marin County

Stafford Lake Bike Park—Novato
This 17-acre family-friendly bike park has all the features you need to get your little mountain bikers working on their skills. The outer loops of Stafford Lake Bike Park are perfect for those who are learning and want to take it slow, while the inner loops are for BMX and mountain bikers who have more experience. There's also a dual slalom course for intermediate and up riders. Visitor Tip: Parking is $5/car.

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Tennessee Valley—Mill Valley
Another fantastic family ride, this almost-flat (most of the way)trail is great for a full day trip or a more adventurous trek for older riders. It’s a 3.4-mile roundtrip from the parking area. Cruise your way through a valley that’s replete with wildflowers like lupine, California poppies and buttercups in the spring, and sticky monkey flowers and sagebrush in the summer. When you arrive at the ocean, lock up and head over to the pretty, secluded Tennessee Cove for a well-deserved picnic on the beach.

Rider Tip: Tennessee Valley Road is not far from the junction to Stinson Beach and Mill Valley. For directions, visit the Golden Gate National Recreation Area site. Note: Leave Fido at home as no four-legged friends are allowed on the main Tennessee Valley Trail.

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Samuel P. Taylor State Park—Marin
Nestled in the wooded hills of Marin, Samuel P. Taylor State Park boasts a partly paved, three-mile bike trail, the Cross Marin Trail. Conveniently located near the campgrounds, well-behaved dogs are welcomed. Following the former Northwest Pacific Railroad right-of-way, the trail is almost level, making it excellent for new riders. Kids will enjoy listening to the sound of the bubbling Lagunitas Creek and pointing out wildlife along the way.

Rider Tip: The park is on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, 30 minutes west of San Rafael. For driving directions. visit parks.ca.gov. Bring $8 for day-use parking.

—TaLeiza Calloway-Appleton and Kate Loweth

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