Lace up those hiking boots and get your gear together... it's time to hit the trail! Marin County is a paradise for families who love the outdoors, with over 50% of the county's land dedicated as protected open space. The Point Reyes National Seashore, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, and the Golden Gate National Recreation area are only a few of the outstanding natural resources that we have right in out own backyard. It's a great way to both educate children about nature and the environment and to get some exercise.

On this page, we've collected all our posts on family-friendly hikes, walks, beaches, and other outdoor activities and resources. If you have a favorite hike or place you'd like to share, or if you'd like to submit an outdoors-related post as a guest contributor, please contact us.

Five Fantastic Fall Family Hikes in Marin

September 22, 2014

Tennessee Valley TrailFall's weather is some of the finest of the year in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area, so make sure you take some time to hit the trail and take in a hike before the weather turns cold and (hopefully) rainy. The coastal areas in Northern California are particularly nice in the fall, and are often warmer and clearer than it is inland.

Here are five of our favorite fall outdoor excursions in Marin County that are perfect for families.

Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve
This 193-acre open space preserve in the hills above Kentfield and Larkspur is a great place to see Marin's version of fall color in the form of numerous stands of Big Leaf Maples the line the trails. The preserve's Southern Marin Line Fire Road is easily manageable by all ages, and those looking for a more strenuous hike can hook up with the Hoo-koo-ee-koo trail onto Mt. Tam, or take a side trip to Dawn Falls, a 30-foot cascade that really gets going during the rainy season (fingers crossed for this fall and winter).

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Deer Island Open Space Preserve

September 16, 2014

Deer Island Open Space PreserveOne of the great things about living in Marin is that you're never far from open space and nature. A favorite Marin spot for a quick outdoor getaway is Deer Island Open Space Preserve in Novato. Just a few minutes away from Highways 101 and 37 it's a calm oasis of nature that's perfect for a short and easy hike with children.

Despite its name, Deer Island really isn't an island. It used to be one at one time, but now it's a small hill surrounded by grassy meadows and seasonal wetlands. At this 135-acre preserve you'll find two main trails, the Deer Island Loop Trail, which circles the preserve, and the De Borba Trail, which leads up and over the hill. Two short spur trails take you to other parts of the preserve.

The 1.8-mile Deer Island Loop Trail is relatively flat and even with only minor elevation changes and is a great hiking choice for families with kids. It passes through grasslands and oak and bay forest and provides plenty of stunning vistas of northern Marin, including wetlands and Novato Creek. There's even a tumbled-down old farm to look at along the way.

The Insider's Guide to Visiting Tiburon for Families

September 8, 2014

Downtown TiburonTiburon, that "nearly perfect" Marin town on the end of its namesake peninsula, is a fantastic place for families to visit. Tiburon has long been a favorite of locals and tourists, and boasts amazing views of San Francisco, plenty of boutiques, shops, and restaurants, and lots for everyone to see and do. So pack up the kiddos and head out to Tiburon for a day of fun!

You'll probably want to head straight for downtown Tiburon. We love to walk along the path in Shoreline park and watch the sailboats as they glide by on San Francisco Bay. Along the way, you'll find a fun and interesting museum that's perfect for kids, as well as grassy areas that are ideal for a picnic or just relaxing.

Downtown Tiburon, along Main Street, is home to plenty of places to dine, many of which have a spectacular view of the Bay and San Francisco. Main Street is also home to historic Ark Row, where many of the buildings are actualy converted Victorian-era houseboats. There always seems to be some sort of fun special event taking place in downtown Tiburon, too, from a classic car show to the family-friendly fun at Friday Nights on Main to a holiday festival and tree lighting in early December.

Take a Family Hike at Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve

September 4, 2014

Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve in San RafaelFamilies looking for a short, easy hike with interesting things to see along the way should check out Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve in northern San Rafael. Located in the Santa Venetia neighborhood just east of the Marin Civic Center, this small preserve really is a little island surrounded by tidal wetlands. It's home to numerous birds and other wildlife, so make sure you bring your binoculars!

Open the gate and walk across the little bridge onto the four-and-a-half-acre island. You'll see pilings and concrete walls, which are the remains of a failed development from the early 1900s that sought to transform the area into a Venice-like town, complete with canals and gondolas (and hence the name Santa Venetia). The bridge is a great place to look for shorebirds that live in the wetlands, including egrets, black-necked stilts, and the endangered California clapper rail.

Once over the bridge, you'll be on the trailhead. Go right or left—it doesn't matter, because the whole trail is a flat, .3-mile loop. It's easy for hikers of any age, and can probably be managed with an off-road capable stroller, too. No bikes are allowed here—just hikers and equestrians.

Hiking, History, and Nature at Olompali State Historic Park in Novato

August 11, 2014

Olompali Miwok VillageJust north of Novato, on the eastern slopes of Mount Burdell, lies Olompali State Historic Park. This gem of a local resource is often overlooked by families as they drive by on Highway 101, but it's well worth a visit. With miles of hiking trails, historic sites spanning 8,000 years of human habitation, and sweeping views of the Petaluma River Valley, Olompali has much to offer for visitors of all ages.

The story of Olompali starts with the Coast Miwoks, who lived on the site for thousands of years. Olompali was one of the primary Miwok settlements in Northern California until the 1850s. At the park, you'll find evidence of their presence here in the form of a "Kitchen Rock", a large stone used as a mortar by the Miwok people to grind acorns and seeds, and a reconstructed village with redwood bark and tule reed kotchas—traditional Coast Miwok dwellings. There's also a native plant garden with educational panels describing how the Miwok used each plant for food or medicinal purposes.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Tennessee Valley Trail

July 29, 2014

Tennessee ValleyTennessee Valley near Mill Valley is one of the most popular hiking and outdoor recreation spots in all of Marin County, and for good reason—it has a combination of easy walks, dramatic views, and a spectacular beach at the end of the trail. Tennessee Valley Trail, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is a perfect hike for families, and can be easily managed with an offroad-capable stroller. With few hills, the 3.4-mile round trip hike out to the beach at Tennessee Cove and back is easy for hikers (and mountain bikers, too) of all ages.

Tennessee Valley Trail is also quit popular with equestrians. Miwok Livery Stables is actually located on-site, so expect to see horses pretty often.

Tennessee Valley Trail winds through the coastal hills to the beach at Tennessee Cove, and offers spectacular scenery along the way. At the end of the trail is a sandy beach where you can relax, have a picnic, and let the kids play in the sand. Like many beaches on the Northern California coast, this one is unsafe for swimming and wading with rough surf and dangerous rip currents, so heed the posted warnings and keep clear of the water.

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