Seven Wonderful Winter Family Hikes in Marin

January 14, 2017

Fairway Waterfall

Since we seem to be getting a break from the rain, why not take advantage of the beautiful weather by taking a family hike? There are so many amazing spots in Marin County that are perfect for a hike or nature walk with kids, whether they're in a baby backpack, a stroller, or walking on their own.

The winter landscape in Northern California can be breathtaking, too, with bright green grass and even some wildflowers showing their faces. Here are seven of our favorite amazing Marin hikes for families, perfect for winter or any time, really. Remember to wear layered clothing, and it's usually a good idea to let the kids wear their rain boots on muddy winter trails.

The Fairway Waterfall

The Fairway Waterfall in Novato (also known as the Arroyo de San Jose Waterfall) is a fantastic destination for a winter family hike. It's short and there's an amazing payoff at the end of the trail in the form of a 30-foot waterfall!

Indian Valley Waterfall Novato

Indian Valley Open Space Preserve

This open space preserve near College of Marin's Indian Valley Campus in Novato has miles of trails for all ages, a pond, and even a waterfall in the winter. Added bonus: an organic farmstand selling fresh seasonal produce on Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm. Bring the kids, the bikes, and the dog and take a hike or bike ride!

Cataract Trail Mt. Tam

Cataract Falls on Mt. Tam

During winter, and especially after a rainstorm, a family hike along on Mount Tamalpais's cataract trail will reward you with stunning scenery and a series of spectacular waterfalls. This out-and-back hike is about 2.6 miles round trip, and should be manageable by most kids—we saw plenty of families on the trail during our last trek.

Rush Creek Open Space Preserve

Rush Creek Open Space Preserve

Novato's Rush Creek Open Space Preserve offers gentle trails perfect for a family hike or bike ride. Fantastic views of Mt. Burdell and the surrounding wetlands add to the experience. Don't forget to bring the binoculars to observe birds and other wildlife.

Las Gallinas Ponds

Las Gallinas Wildlife Ponds

The wildlife ponds on the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District grounds in San Rafael are worth visiting at any time of year, but are especially scenic during the winter. A wide variety of birds flock to this bayside sanctuary, so bring your binoculars. Flat gravel trails are perfect for either a walk or a bike ride.

Earthquake Trail Pt. Reyes  

Point Reyes National Seashore

The Point Reyes National Seashore visitor center at Bear Valley is home to a number of fantastic family friendly hikes. The short paved Earthquake Trail is an ideal introduction to the outdoors for little ones, and the Bear Valley Trail is a good choice when you're up for more of a challenge. There's also the visitor center itself with its natural history exhibits, the Morgan Horse Ranch, and the reconstructed Coast Miwok village Kule Loklo.

Phoenix Lake Ross

Phoenix Lake

Just outside the town of Ross you'll find Phoenix Lake, one of Marin's most popular spots for outdoor recreation. Located on Marin Municipal Water District lands, Phoenix Lake has trails easily managed by families, as well as excellent opportunities for wildlife watching.