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.

Get Active with the Family for the New Year

January 2, 2017

Mountain biking at China Camp

Happy New Year! Getting healthier and more active is always a top New Year's resolution, and we're here to help. We've compiled a list of our favorite (and our readers' favorite) ways for the whole family to get out and get active in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area in 2017.

Exercise your body and your brain

Take a family hike and learn about history, wildlife, and the natural world while you're at it! Our favorite place to exercise your mind and body in Marin is the Point Reyes National Seashore headquarters at Bear Valley, where you can hike the Earthquake Trail, visit a reconstructed Miwok village, meet some Morgan horses, and even become a Junior Ranger at the visitor center. Other great destinations for this include the Marin Headlands and Olompali State Historic Park near Novato.

Winter Whale and Elephant Seal Watching at Point Reyes National Seashore

December 26, 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! 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: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

December 5, 2016

Hiking with Kids: Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

I know it sounds a little strange, but a great hike that's perfect for kids can be found on the grounds of the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District in northern San Rafael, at the complex of trails and fire roads near the district's treatment plants off of Smith Ranch Road, near McInnis Park. The gravel trails here are wide and flat, and are perfect for off-road strollers and bikes. The paths wind atop levees through the wetlands bordering San Pablo Bay, and offer amazing views of Marin.

A wide variety of birds make their homes out here, and we've seen white pelicans, Canada geese (plenty of them), mallards, cormorants, turkey vultures, several kinds of egrets, black-crowned night herons, red-wing blackbirds, and others. It's kind of a "who's who" of local avian wildlife, so make sure you bring your binoculars!

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Rush Creek Open Space Preserve

November 13, 2016

Rush Creek Open Space Preserve

Hiking with children is a great way to get them into the outdoors and introduce them to nature, but it can be a bit of a challenge. Small legs seem to tire out faster than larger ones, and when they outgrow both the stroller and the backpack it's best to seek out some shorter hikes with few hills or elevation changes that the whole family can enjoy with a minumum of complaining. One of our favorite easy family hikes can be found at Rush Creek Open Space Preserve, on the northern end of Novato.

This 552-acre preserve features wide and gentle trails that are perfect for families. They're easily manageable with an off-road capable jogging stroller, and kids' bikes should be able to tackle the fire roads with ease. You'll share the trails with plenty of hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders, as well as birders checking out the countless shorebirds and waterfowl that make their homes in the adjacent wetlands.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Tennessee Valley Trail

October 23, 2016

Tennessee Valley

Tennessee 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. Fall is the perfect time to tackle this hike, since the weather at the coast is often clear, sunny, and spectacular.

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

September 20, 2016

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. 

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