A good hike is one that appeals to a child's sense of exploration and adventure. Make sure to look for discoveries along the trail and encourage kids to keep their eyes open for signs of wildlife and seasonal wildflowers! We found these three trails are full of discovery, easily accessible, and popular with the young ones:
This flat 1/2-mile hike to the coast leads families over a boardwalk specifically designed to allow water to run down the hillside into ponds that thrive with aquatic life. The threatened California red-legged frog lives in these ponds, next to its top predator, the endangered San Francisco garter snake. The ponds were constructed for both species to coexist and are amazing places to witness such a magnificent example of nature. Once you reach the coastline, families can either take the thrilling Bootlegger Steps to Mori Point or take the laid back and multi-use Coastal Trail that winds up the hillside. At the top, families can enjoy spring wildflowers or perhaps spot the seasonal migration of whales in the winter!
Start your day at the Merrie Way parking lot, and walk along the Coastal Trail to get spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, Marin Headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Take a look out to the ocean and keep your eyes peeled for playful porpoises or seals. While hiking alongside the trail, try to identify the plethora of native plants by your side. This is a great three-mile hike that leads you to Mile Rock Trail. Follow the trail down to Mile Rock Beach, where you can enjoy an afternoon picnic and watch the boats pass by into the Bay. For an added bonus, see if you and the kids can find the nearby labyrinth! Before heading home, don’t forget to check out the Lands End Lookout where you can purchase hot chocolate and a yummy "It's-It" ice cream sandwich.
The Tennessee Valley Trailhead offers hikers a variety of trails, which vary in skill level from moderate-flat to challenging-steep trails. Whether you’re a novice hiker or experienced hiker, Tennessee Valley has it all! But our favorite option for the kids takes you along a two-mile hike from the parking lot to a secluded beach cove, great for playing tag or throwing a Frisbee around. To avoid the weekend crowds we suggest you follow the Lower Tennessee Valley Trail to the beach. This beach cove exemplifies a classic coastal California area, with steep cliffs jutting into the ocean and vegetation that clings to its layered sides. Look for birds of prey circling overhead and the occasional bobcat perched upon the rocks.
Don't forget to bring plenty of water and snacks, sunscreen, layers of clothing, and a sense of adventure!