Become One With Nature

Getting outdoors and enjoying nature is one of the safest activities during these times of COVID. Fortunately, the Bay Area has plenty of parks to enjoy beautiful scenery and wildlife. Also, many of the parks are bringing back their guided walks, hikes and programs. Check websites for restrictions and trail closures.

Marin/North Bay

Kule Loklo Trail – If you’re looking for an easy hike that will teach your kids about Native American history, this is a good one. There are plenty of other nearby trails if you want to extend your hike. The trailhead starts near the Bear Valley Visitors Center, and the short path leads to a replica of a Coast Miwok village. 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station. 415-464-5100.

Tomales Point – This is a fantastic place to see wildlife and panoramic views of the ocean. Located on the northern end of the Point Reyes National Seashore, it is a popular destination for visitors looking to spot tule elk, birds and wildflowers. The 9.7-mile round trip hike leads along the ridge crest of a narrow peninsula. Don’t feel obligated to do the entire trail; there’s plenty to see if you cover three or four miles. Pierce Point Road, Point Reyes. 415-464-5100.

San Francisco

Bay Area Ridge Trail – The 2.5-mile section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail passes through the Presidio and ends at Golden Gate Bridge. Along the way, there is plenty to see including the Presidio’s forest, scenic overlooks and historic and cultural points. It starts at the Arguello Gate, Arguello Boulevard near the Presidio Golf Course. 

Lands Ends – This is a peaceful place to escape the city’s crowds and enjoy lovelyl scenery. There are sweeping views at every turn; the trail leads to the ruins of historic Sutro Baths, once home to the world’s largest swimming pool. Land’s End Lookout, 680 Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco. 415-426-5240. 

East Bay

Redwood Regional Park – A few miles from downtown Oakland is this peaceful park full of redwoods, hiking trails and picnic and playground areas. This is also a good place to find some fall colors. $5 vehicle fee. 7867 Redwood Road, Oakland. 888-327-2757, option 3, ext. 4553.

Rock City at Mount Diablo State Park – Kids and adults who love to climb flock to this section of Mount Diablo State Park. The area is a jumble of eroded sandstone outcroppings that is a playground for hikers and rock climbers. For those who would like to walk farther, the nearby Wall Point Trail is a 3-mile round trip to the summit of Wall Point. Mount Diablo State Park, South Gate Road, Danville. 

Peninsula

Purisma Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve – Located in the slopes overlooking Half Moon Bay, this park offers towering redwoods, rushing creeks and lush ferns. If you have little ones who need a super easy hike, the Redwood Trail is a good choice. You can start at Skyline Ridge near Woodside or Higgins Purisima Road in Half Moon Bay. 650-691-1200.

San Bruno Mountain – The Summit Loop offers amazing views and is prime habitat for the endangered blue butterfly. If you show up in the spring, the hills are brimming with wildflowers. 555 Guadalupe Canyon Parkway, Brisbane. 650-589-5708. 

Silicon Valley/Coast

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park – This off-the-beaten-path trail is a great retreat. The redwood forest offers 30 miles of trails for hiking, biking and jogging. $8 parking fee. Four miles north of Aptos on Aptos Creek Road. 831-763-7063.

Wilder Ranch State Park – Situated on the bluffs along Highway 1, the park has 34 miles of spectacular hiking, biking and equestrian trails, as well as a farm with goats and horses. While you’re there, step back in time to the 1800s and visit an early dairy ranch. There are often park events on weekends. $10 vehicle fee. 1401 Coast Road, Santa Cruz. 831-423-9703. 

Where to Find Guided Hikes and Nature Activities

East Bay Regional Parks District – It has parks throughout the East Bay offering guided hikes and outdoor events.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area – Offers guided hikes and programs at sites and trails in San Francisco and Marin.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space – Has trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains and San Mateo Coast with plenty of guided hikes and walks to choose from year-round.

Santa Clara County Parks – Offers public interpretive programs, virtual nature programs, a junior ranger program and more at parks throughout Santa Clara County.