Lands End trail

Five Family-Friendly Hikes for Thanksgiving Weekend

From Park E-ventures, December 2013

Typically, the weekend after Thanksgiving is spent shopping for holiday gifts and making leftover turkey (or tofurkey) sandwiches.

But instead of being cooped up in a mall all weekend, you and the family could help digest that stomach-stretching feast while enjoying spectacular views, exploring newly restored habitats, and maybe even spotting some wildlife.

But where should you hike? Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favorite hikes, in and around the Golden Gate National Parks, that we think you and your whole family would enjoy this holiday weekend—or any weekend.

Lands End Trail

Length: 2.9 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Notes: Partly wheelchair/stroller accessible; dog-friendly

This rugged stretch of coastline in the northwest corner of San Francisco features breathtaking vistas of the Golden Gate Strait, the new Lands End Lookout visitor center, and access to the epic ruins of Sutro Baths.

For transportation options and more on the history of the area, click here.

Phleger Estate: Miramontes Trail

Length: 4.6 miles (7.4 kilometers)
Difficulty: Easy
Notes: Horses permitted

Formerly the estate of a respected San Francisco lawyer, this area is now in one of our southernmost sites in the Golden Gate National Parks, and it features tumbling creeks and majestic second-growth forests of redwoods and firs. Evidence of logging industry and steam mills is still evident along the park’s Union Creek, too.

For more on the history of Phleger Estate and directions, click here.

Tennessee Valley Trail

Length: 1.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Notes: Partially wheelchair accessible; bike-friendly

Named after the wreckage of the SS Tennessee, this valley in the Marin Headlands serves as the perfect day hike for all members of the family. If you coordinate your trip with low tide and seasonal sand alignments, you can still see the engine of the shipwrecked SS Tennessee from the cove at the end of the hike.

For more on directions and tips, click here.

Golden Gate Bridge

Length: 3.6 miles (5.8 kilometers)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Notes: Stroller and wheelchair accessible; bike-friendly

What’s more synonymous with San Francisco than the iconic Golden Gate Bridge? If you have visitors from out-of-town, the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge is the ideal hiking destination. Its 1.7-mile span overlooks the Golden Gate Strait and the San Francisco Bay, while offering many vantage points for a family portrait.

While here, be sure to check out the new Bridge Plaza on the San Francisco end, which features the Bridge Pavilion welcome center, historical exhibits, and interpretive items for sale—perfect for holiday shopping!

For more on visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, click here.

Point Reyes National Seashore: Kule Loklo Trail

Length: .08 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Notes: Not wheelchair accessible or dog-friendly

If you venture up to our national park neighbor to the north, Point Reyes, this hike is ideal for families with small children, who want exercise as well as an educational experience. This short path leads up to a replica of a Coast Miwok Indian village. Interpretive signs briefly describe Coast Miwok culture and history and the structures in the village.

For tips and highlights, click here.

For more ideas, visit our website and find a site and trail in the Golden Gate National Parks that’s perfect for your family—and your appetite for adventure.

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