Marin County’s Best Kid-Friendly Hikes
Posted in Blogging Marin on Monday, April 13, 2020 by MCVB Staff
By Megan Eileen McDonough
Marin County has no shortage of scenic hikes, with some leading to cascading waterfalls and others revealing extraordinary wildlife like you’ve never seen before. That said, choosing a trail that’s too challenging for your kids can dampen the day. Here are five kid-friendly Marin trails the whole family can enjoy.
Tomales Point Trail
Although this trail won’t suit strollers, the even terrain of the Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore makes it a smart option for young children. The mile-long (each way) trail passes lots of wildlife and a few wandering cows peacefully grazing nearby. Another perk of choosing the Tomales Point Trail is there’s a nice, cool breeze perfect for flying a kite. Make sure to pack some snacks, since there are no restrooms or drinking fountains along the path. It’s also not too shady here, so sunscreen and hats are advisable.
Mount Tamalpais East Peak
As long as your child can walk mostly on his own, he’s ready for the 1.2-mile loop of Mount Tamalpais East Peak. Ideal for complete beginners, the path includes both a dirt and a paved trail. To reach the trailhead, drive to the top of Mt. Tam for a quick and easy hike to the very, very top. You’ll have unrestricted views of Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area, especially on a clear day. In terms of trip planning, summer tends to be a bit of a wash, mostly because it’s Mt. Tam’s foggiest season, so plan a spring visit instead.
China Camp Turtle Back Nature Trail
If you’re looking for a hike that suits all ages, head to San Rafael. The China Camp Turtle Back Nature Trail is easy even for beginners and there’s lots to see along the way, like salt marshes and exotic wildlife. The trail features a wooden boardwalk, making it easy to push your stroller should you be traveling with a little one in tow. Keep your eyes peeled for the five educational panels throughout the trail, as they offer insight into the area’s vast ecosystem. In addition to wildflowers during the spring, you might see herons and egrets.
Indian Valley Open Space Preserve
Located at the west end of Ignacio Valley, this 1.5-mile roundtrip hike is perfect for kids of all ages. The flat fire road wraps around the College of Marin campus, passing oak trees that provide shade during the hot summer days. The trail is one of several that weave around the 558-acre preserve, so if you feel this one is too easy for your crew, just head down another. When you venture near Indian Valley Fire Road, you’ll find a small pond home to many freshwater animals like tree frogs, newts, and western toads.
Bonus: You won’t have to leave your pup behind for this one; off-leash dogs are welcome on the fire roads in the Indian Valley Open Space Preserve.
Spanning 1.2 miles each way, the trail leading to Cascade Canyon is suitable for the whole family. There is limited parking at Cascade Canyon, so consider adding an extra mile to your hike and walking from downtown Fairfax. The trek is fairly easy, with an elevation gain of about 150 feet. One of the best times to visit Cascade Canyon is late winter/early spring, as the wildflowers are in full bloom. Wear sneakers with grip, especially if you plan on climbing the rocks leading to the waterfall.