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.

Baby and Toddler-Friendly Sunscreens

May 30, 2007

kid on the beachWhen my family hits the great outdoors for a walk, hike, or swim, I always try to remember to put lots of sunscreen on them. I usually don’t do much more than buy what’s on sale, and make sure it has an SPF of at least 30 to 40. I decided to do a little research on the subject to find out what really is the best sunscreen for children. One thing I discovered is that it’s important to buy a sunscreen or sunblock with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. I also found out the sunscreen and sunblock are totally different; I thought the two terms were interchangeable, and they aren’t. Sunblock physically blocks the sun's UV rays, whereas sunscreen actually absorbs the ultraviolet light so it doesn’t reach your skin.

When you buy a sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide (which is recommended) it sits on top of the skin and forms a barrier against the sun's rays. When using a chemical sunscreen without either of those two ingredients, your skin actually absorbs the sunscreen, which may cause irritation or allergic reactions. It doesn't matter if you buy a so called "broad-spectrum" product, just make sure that it contains the all important zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both.

Rodeo Beach and the Marin Headlands

May 18, 2007

marin headlandsFor Mothers Day, I decided that we were going to have a picnic at the beach, so we ended up going to Rodeo Beach at Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands. I hadn’t been there in a long time, and since it was such a nice day I thought it would be a really fun beach to revisit. It’s also a little closer than schlepping all the way out to Point Reyes, where we usually go. My kids loved the long tunnel you use to enter onto Bunker Road and the open space of the Marin Headlands. I had forgotten how beautiful the drive was out to the beach.

Wildflower Season and a Beach Hike in Point Reyes

April 7, 2007

california poppies at point reyesSpring naturally brings a bounty of beautiful wildflowers to Marin, but the window of time in which to see them is short. Perhaps the best place to see them in the county, if not the Bay Area, is Point Reyes National Seashore. Take a drive out to the beach at Point Reyes and see stunning wildflowers that blanket the hills in colors such as yellow, purple, pink, orange, and white. I always like to point them out to my kids and talk about the beauty of them, in hopes that they grow to appreciate them too.

Toddler Hiking in Marin

March 30, 2007

Hiking has always has always been one of my first loves. Before I had kids, I always told my husband that I wanted my kids to love and appreciate hiking and the outdoors as much as I do.

Toddler Hiking and Adventure Outing

March 8, 2007
It’s never too early to start hiking and exposing your children to nature, but sometimes it can be a challenge to hike with a toddler. Adventures with Toddlers is a program that focuses on hiking “toddler style.” This program explores some of our local beaches, lakes, and creeks through short nature walks, where stopping to look at things like ladybugs and any other creepy-crawlies is encouraged. Social interaction and making friends is also part of the program. Adventures with Toddlers is led by Lonnie Greenfied, who was trained at Audubon Canyon Ranch as a nature guide, and Donna Simonsen, who has led numerous hikes with Adventures for Women. These classes are for children 18 months to 5 years. You need to bring a picnic lunch and one parent. You can sign up for this class by contacting your local recreation department or by calling 707.933.8882. The classes are $90-$115 per child accompanied by one parent.

An Outing to Pierce Point Ranch

March 1, 2007
When the rain stops and you simply have to get out of the house and back to nature, head to Pierce Point Ranch on the Pt. Reyes peninsula for a perfect day outing. At the north end of Pt. Reyes, Pierce Point Ranch dates back to 1858 and was at one time a successful dairy ranch. It's been preserved by the park service, and it's a great place to take the kids to see some wildlife and learn about ranching life in the old days.

Those looking for more to do can head out on nearby Tomales Point Trail, which affords breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay as seen in the picture above. It's about 9 miles round trip to Tomales Point, so it's probably not suitable for little kids. Also nearby is McClure's Beach, located at the end of a short trail.

You'll see a variety of wildlife out there, including tule elk (there's a large herd that lives out there), as well as bobcats, hawks, deer, and more.
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