Bay Area Hikes with Kids
Muir Woods. For an easy loop, walk along the main trail near the parking lot up through Cathedral Grove and back. You can take a stroller with you, since the trails are on pavement or boardwalk. Or, if you want to avoid the crowds and challenge yourself (and your kids), try the Tourist Club Loop. 1 Muir Woods Road, Mill Valley. 415-388-2596.
Point Reyes National Seashore. If you’re looking for an easy, interesting walk, head to the Kule Loklo Trail. The trailhead starts near the Bear Valley Visitors Center, and the short path leads up to a replica of a Coast Miwok Indian village. Point Reyes also has longer, more challenging trails that lead to the beaches. 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station. 415-464-5100.
Mount Tamalpais State Park. You can take your stroller on the Verna Dunshee Loop around the East Peak of Mount Tamalpais to a stunning overlook. The trail is even and paved, but be careful of the steep drops. 801 Panoramic Hwy., Mill Valley. 415-388-2070.
Presidio. Explore miles of trails in the former military base. The Mountain Lake Trail offers kids an easy stroll, a chance to play at the Julius Khan playground and views of Andy Goldsworthy’s Wood Line sculpture. Moderate and difficult trails lead to sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay. 415-561-5300.
Butano State Park. Your kids may mistake this spot for an actual Hobbit Shire. Search for banana slugs and newts along the Butano Creek Trail. The park is filled with easy paths that wind through the mossy redwood forest. 1500 Cloverdale Road, Pescadero. 650-879-2040.
Wunderlich County Park. At this park west of Woodside, you can walk along easy trails through a forest of second-growth redwoods and explore the newly renovated Folger Stable and the Carriage Room Museum. 4040 Woodside Road, Woodside. 650-851-1210.
Albany Bulb. The Bulb was originally created as a dump for construction debris. It’s now a unique spot to stroll and discover art made out of detritus. 1 Buchanan St., Albany.
Indian Rock. Rock-climb on a carved staircase and enjoy views of San Francisco Bay. 950 Indian Rock Ave., Berkeley. 510-981-2489.
Joaquin Miller Park. This urban park offers an easy chance to get close to nature and forget the bustle of city life. Try the Skyline-Bayview Trail for a simple out-and-back path that leads to views of the city and bay. 3450 Joaquin Miller Road, Oakland. 510-238-7275.
Tilden Park. The Nimitz Way Trail at Inspiration Point is a favorite for many East Bay families. The path is accessible by stroller (or older kids can hop on a bicycle) to views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island and the Marin Headlands. 2501 Grizzly Peak Blvd., Orinda. 510-544-2747.
Contra Costa County
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve/Hazel Atlas Mine. Weekend tours cost $5 and offer the chance to explore 1,000 feet of the underground quarry. Kids must be 7 to enter the mine. 5175 Somersville Road, Antioch. 510-544-2750.
Mount Diablo. The hike starts by the south entrance to Mount Diablo State Park and follows the Summit trail past the Live Oak camping area to Sentinel Rock. It’s a short walk to Rock City, which is filled with not-to-be missed rock structures. 96 Mitchell Canyon Road, Clayton. 925-837-2525.
Sibley Regional Volcanic Preserve. Ten million years ago, this part of the Bay Area was an active volcano, and this park is a reminder of the area’s geological past. The park has a labyrinth located off the Round Top Loop Trail. 6800 Skyline Blvd., Oakland. 888-327-2757.
Almaden Quicksilver County Park. During early spring, the park offers one of the most spectacular wildflower displays in the region. 21785 Almaden Road, San Jose. 408- 268-3883.
Castle Rock State Park. Situated along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the park is home to redwoods, Douglas firs and a madrone forest, most of which has been left in its wild, natural state. 15000 Skyline Blvd., Los Gatos. 408-867-2952.
Rancho San Antonio. Follow the trail from the parking lot for about a mile to Deer Hollow Farm. Kids can pet cows, goats and sheep, and watch ducks, chickens and pigs frolic in the mud. You can buy farm-fresh eggs and seasonal produce. For a longer excursion, follow the Rogue Valley Trail, which departs from Deer Hollow Farm on a level course to the High Meadow Trail. 22500 Cristo Rey Drive, Los Altos. 650-691-1200.
Shoreline Regional Wildlife Area. You’d never guess that these 700 acres were literally built on a pile of trash. This former dump has a beautiful lake you can stroll around, or you can explore the nearby tidal marshes and salt ponds. 3070 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View. 650-903-6392.
Santa Cruz County
Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The oldest state park is home to home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco. The Redwood Loop Trail is an easy stroll that takes about half an hour. For older kids who are very experienced hikers, try the difficult Skyline to the Sea trail that leads to Berry Falls. 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek. 831-338-8860.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Hike along a gently paved road to a quiet picnic spot surrounded by old-growth redwoods. You may even spot a banana slug or two as you hear the train pulling up to nearby Roaring Camp. 101 N. Big Trees Park Road, Felton. 831-335-4598.
Wilder Ranch State Park. Situated on the bluffs along Highway 1, the park has 34 miles of spectacular hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Kids can explore the farm and pet goats and horses. 1401 Coast Road, Santa Cruz. 831-423-9703.