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, 2015

Tennessee Valley TrailFall offers some of the finest weather 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.

Tennessee Valley

The Tennessee Valley trail is one of Marin's most popular spots for outdoor recreation, and a favorite with hikers, cyclists, and trail runners of all ages. This easy 3.4-mile out-and-back hike has its halfway point at Tennessee Cove, home to a beautiful beach that's a perfect place for a picnic or mid-hike break. It's manageable with an offroad jogging stroller, too. Go during the week or in the mornings to avoid weekend crowds in the parking area.

Exploring Angel Island with Kids

September 15, 2015

Angel Island with kids

One of San Francisco Bay's most prominent landmarks, Angel Island has played a considerable role in the history of California and is now one of the Bay Area's favorite spots for hikers, tourists, history buffs, and anyone who just wants to get away from the busy life on the mainland. It's a great place for a family day trip, with plenty of opportunities to picnic, hike, ride a bike, learn, and just take in the surrounding natural beauty, plus there's a boat ride involved, too!

We took the Angel Island–Tiburon ferry over to the island this past weekend and had a great time. The ferry ride there is quick and efficient, and it's half the fun of the trip. After the short 12-minute trip, you disembark at Ayala Cove and get ready to explore the island.

Hike, Bike, and Ride at Novato's O'Hair Park

September 8, 2015

O'Hair Park Novato

At the west end of Novato is one of Marin's outdoor gems—O'Hair Park. Sharing space with the Dogbone Meadow dog park and Morning Star Farm equestrian center, the 100-acre O'Hair Park is a great place for a family bike ride, hike or off-road stroller.

Head into the park on the Reuben Kaehler Memorial Trail, which forms an easy loop of approximately two miles. Novato Creek parellels much of the trail, and it's fun to clamber down to the creekside to look for little fish and water bugs while you're on your hike. The trail climbs gently uphill into a bay laurel forest, down into a grassy meadow, and then again into a forest. 

Along the way you'll see plenty of wildflowers in the spring, ferns, and even a small stand of redwood trees. There's even a conveniently placed bench about midway along the trail that's a perfect place to sit and relax for a few minutes.

Explore Spectacular Slide Ranch in Muir Beach

September 5, 2015

Slide Ranch

Muir Beach's Slide Ranch is one of Marin's favorite family destinations for educational programs, camps, and more. But did you know you can visit the ranch's spectacular grounds any time you like? Since Slide Ranch is located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it's open to the public every day, with no admission fee.

It's truly an amazing place, with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, hiking trails, tidepools, a farm to explore, and one of the most amazing picnic areas we've ever encountered. It's a great place to visit even if there are no programs going on. Pack up the kids and a picnic and make a day of it!

Walk or Bike the Newest Bay Trail Section at Hamilton in Novato

August 24, 2015

The Bay Trail Novato Hamilton

The latest completed section of the Bay Trail opened last summer in Novato's Hamilton neighborhood, and it's one of our favorite Marin spots for short hike or bike ride with the kids. With easy access from several points in Hamilton and stunning views, this is a great place for families to head outdoors for an active outing.

The Hamilton section of the Bay Trail skirts the old runway of this former air force base, which has been returned to its original wetland state. The trail is flat and accessible, and welcomes walkers and cyclists to travel along the wetlands that border San Pablo Bay. It is, of course, ideal for walking with an sturdy stroller, too.

You'll find neat little lookout areas along the way, with benches and informative placards that tell you all about the bird life in the area and about the wetland restoration project. They even have stationary binoculars mounted in them so you can take a look at the wildlife out in the wetlands. My daughter and her second grade class actually helped work on this project, so she was excited to see the results when the trail finally opened last summer. The views are stunning, with Mt. Burdell to the north and Mt. Diablo to the east.

Stafford Lake Bike Park Opens This Saturday in Novato!

August 20, 2015

Stafford Lake Bike Park

Marin families have been eagerly anticipating the opening of the Stafford Lake Bike Park, and now the day is finally here! Marin County's only public bike park opens this Saturday, August 22, at Stafford Lake County Park in Novato. The first phase of the 17-acre Bike Park has features for all skill levels, including a perimiter trail, a dual slalom, a progression jump course, a beginner pump track, and a kids' learn-to-ride area.

This Saturday, everyone will have an opportunity to try out the trails and listen to live music from Ridgeway Space Station, as well as hear from honored guests and mingle with park sponsors. Refreshments will be available for purchase. Admission is free to this event, which takes place from 10 am to 2 pm. (The regular $10 park admission will be waived.) Grab your bikes and come out to the park!

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