Above: Stafford Lake Bike Park
Posted in Blogging Marin on Monday, January 9, 2017 by MCVB Staff
By Whitney Butler
Post-holiday workouts don’t have to be boring, and the outdoors is a great place to find inspiration to stay healthy or get in shape. Marin County is a playground of parks and open spaces in a variety of ecological systems that make exploring the outdoors just as much fun as the actual activities.
So get your gear and outerwear ready. This is your guide to a healthy head start in Marin County.
Marin’s famous coastlines are a great place to snap a selfie, but it’s on the water where you’ll catch the best views—and the best workout!
Kayaking and canoeing are great activities for water lovers and workout warriors alike. An hour of casual kayaking burns almost 300 calories; plus, you’ll score great views of local flora and native wildlife.
Bolinas Lagoon, just north of Stinson Beach, is cradled between two large landmasses, offering calm waters for easy exercise. This estuary is an important migration stop for several species of birds, and home to a thriving community of harbor seals. Since this open-space preserve is a sanctuary for these animals, visitors should keep a safe distance.
For a more challenging workout, head to open water, or the Marin Islands National Wildlife Refuge. East and West Marin islands are located in San Rafael Bay. The islands are small, but they’re home to the largest heron and egret rookeries in Northern California. The islands are off limits to visitors on foot, but kayakers can enjoy bird watching from a safe distance while getting in some serious cardio.
This year, Novato opened Stafford Lake Bike Park, an all-levels bike park featuring a dual slalom course filled with tabletop jumps, doubles and turns—helmets are required!
Young riders can enjoy a learn-to-ride zone pump track, a loop designed to let riders traverse berms and rollers without pedaling. Advanced riders can take on the progression jump course or the dual slalom gravity zone.
McInnis Park in San Rafael is another spot where adrenalin junkies can get a fix. This 450-acre regional park is a multi-use sports center and includes an award-winning skate park. If adrenaline isn’t your thing, McInnis Park has plenty of ways to burn up calories: soccer fields, tennis courts, golf, fishing—you name it!
Mount Tamalpais is the ideal place to overload on adrenalin in Marin. It also happens to be the birthplace of mountain biking—there’s a museum dedicated to the sport in Fairfax!
Mount Tamalpais supports sagebrush, grasslands and evergreen forests betwixt some amazing fat-tire trials. Intermediate and advanced level trails include Eldridge Grade, Rock Springs-Lagunitas Fire Road and Tender Foot. Buckle up, and hang on!
If you feel like sitting—but not on two wheels—how about on four legs? Marin County abounds with beautiful parks and open spaces that are open to horseback riders of all skill levels.
Rush Creek is a popular destination for riders seeking great expanses and views of neighboring wetlands, which are home to thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl. From the eastern ridge of the open space, atop your horse, you might catch glimpses of the Petaluma River to Sonoma County. But do watch your trot! This preserve is also home to several species of amphibians, including toads, lizards, snakes and salamanders.
Another riding destination worth the trek is within the enchanting trail system of Baltimore Canyon, just west of Larkspur. You won’t even feel like you’re exercising as you explore large redwood forests and waterfalls across nearly 200 acres of preserved habitat.
Whether you prefer to walk, swim, ride or paddle your way to a healthier you in 2017, remember the outdoor parks and open spaces of Marin County are perfect places to break a sweat. The next time you’re headed to the gym, consider these alternatives to enjoy both the beauty of Marin and the healthful benefits of the great outdoors.
For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page, or download the mobile app.