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.

Family Hike at Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen

January 31, 2016

Jack London State Historic Park

This weekend, we paid another visit one of our favorite outdoors spots in the Bay Area, Jack London State Historic Park. Located in the small Sonoma Valley town of Glen Ellen, it's about a 45-minute drive north from Marin and a great destination for a family outing.

The park is made up of land that was at one time the Beauty Ranch owned by renowned writer, social reformer, early sustainable agriculture advocate, and rabble-rouser Jack London (1876–1916), author of classic adventure tales like The Sea Wolf, The Call of the Wild, and White Fang. Jack London State Historic Park is always a destination for us in winter and early spring—the wildflowers are in bloom, the weather is cool and clear, and it's breathtakingly beautiful. 2016 is the centennial of London's death, so the park has a full roster of special events scheduled throughout the year.

Slide Ranch Summer Day Camp 2016

January 26, 2016

Slide Ranch Summer Day CampRegistration is now open for Marin's popular Slide Ranch Summer Day Camp, with sessions taking place from June 13 through August 19, 2016 at their spectacular seaside location in Muir Beach. Camps at Slide Ranch give kids a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience on a working farm and also explore the natural world surrounding the ranch.

Slide Ranch offers 10 nature-based camps geared for all different age groups including Ranch Rangers (ages 5 to 13), Slide Explorers (ages 5 to 8), and Junior Farmers (ages 8 to 13). Slide Ranch also offers three Junior Camp Counselor weeks for teens ages 14–18, where they attend and help teach at the camp.

Slide Ranch Day Camp emphasizes hands-on experience and exploration of the farm and the surrounding countryside. Programs encourage campers to touch, taste, smell, hear, observe, and ask questions. Camp at Slide Ranch focuses on teaching respect for animals, plants, the earth, and each other. Slide Ranch campers milk goats, collect eggs from chickens and ducks, card and spin wool, create nature-based crafts, learn to compost, plant seeds, harvest and cook from the ranch's organic garden, and explore the tide pools and trails of the surrounding coastal wild lands.

Four Easy Waterfall Hikes for Families in Marin

January 11, 2016

Fairway waterfall Novato

One of the things I love most about winter and early spring in Marin is being able to hike to a beautiful waterfall, and when it rains (as it's doing things season… finally) families have many to choose from. The waterfalls in our list here all involve hikes of varying length, and all are perfect destinations for a family outdoor outing. There's something for hikers of every ability here.

All of these waterfalls are at their most spectacular after a big rainstorm like the one we had last week. This also means the trails will be pretty muddy, so make sure you put on the rain boots and dress the kiddos in something that you don't mind getting dirty. Here are four of our favorite Marin waterfall hikes, in order of difficulty (although all of them are family friendly). All but one of these hikes (Cataract Falls on Mt. Tamalpais) are on lands administered by Marin County Parks; visit their website for more info and to download printable trail maps for each preserve.

A Marin Winter Waterfall Hike at Cascade Canyon

January 5, 2016

Cascade Falls Fairfax Marin CountyOur family really loves hiking in Marin during the winter, especially when there's a waterfall involved. One of Marin's favorite family hikes is at Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve near Fairfax. The trail here winds through Elliott Nature Preserve, along San Anselmo Creek, to the 20-foot Cascade Falls. It's particularly popular during the winter and spring when the creek is flowing, but it's a great place for a fun family hike at any time of year. This easy out-and-back hike is about 1.5 miles round trip.

Start out at the trailhead on Cascade Drive in Fairfax and head onto Cascade Fire Road. San Anselmo Creek burbles along to your left, and you'll find a couple good flat spots for the kids to walk down and explore the creek. Ordinarily you'll follow Cascade Fire Road for approximately a half mile until it meets with Cascade Falls Trail, fording shallow parts of the creek in a couple spots.

Winter Whale and Elephant Seal Watching at Point Reyes National Seashore

January 2, 2016

Whale Watching Point Reyes

The New Year always heralds the start of whale-watching season on Northern California's coast. This is the time of year when California Gray Whales (eschrichtius robustus) pass by the coast on their annual southern migration, so start planning your winter trip out to Point Reyes National Seashore to do some whale watching now. Dust off those binoculars and your telephoto lens and head out to the Point Reyes Lighthouse!

While we've had mixed results in our own whale-watching outings, we've usually seen at least a whale or two, and on one visit we saw at least a dozen pass by the lighthouse! The National Park Service counted 94 whales this past weekend, so you'll probably get to see something if you're patient. It's an amazing experience that you'll never forget, and it's definitely worth the time it takes getting out to the lighthouse.

Hiking With Kids in Marin: Tomales Bay Trailhead in Point Reyes

December 28, 2015

Tomales Bay Trailhead

When we're in the mood for an easy hike in West Marin with the kids, we love to head to Tomales Bay Trailhead, off Highway 1 just north of the town of Point Reyes Station. This hike is perfect for families with children of all ages, and passes through the gently rolling hills at the southern end of Tomales Bay. Be prepared to take in some sweeping views, watch for local wildlife, and meet some friendly cows wandering the meadows.

Tomales Bay Trailhead has the added benefit of being close to Point Reyes Station—it's only a few minutes north of town off of Highway 1. It's a great place to take in a hike when you don't feel like driving out all the way into Point Reyes National Seashore, and it's beautiful in its own right. The Tomales Bay Trails winds along hills and run through grassy meadows from the highway down to Tomales Bay itself.

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