Finding Time | Family Friendly Hikes in the North Bay

I’d like to think that I’m a Bay Area gal these days… I love where I live and hey, even though we really do need the rain, we haven’t had any in a while and I’ll take advantage of a beautiful day, any day.

There are SO many incredible hikes to be had around these parts, both close to my North Bay home and even a little bit out of the way. We are family hikers, not super hard core, but can enjoy most hikes that I can manage safely and comfortably with the Peanut on my back in the Ergo Carrier. Obviously tiny babies will need to be either carried or put in the stroller, but I’ve designated which hikes you can use the jogging stroller for and which ones are going to involve a carrier. The Big Kid is big enough now to handle everything we do on his own, even though there’s always some whingi-ness involved about halfway through. (I blame him, not the hike.)

It’s been hard though, to find a good list of family friendly hikes in this area, so I thought I’d compile a list of my favorites so far…Olompoli_hike

Moderate Hikes : 

Olompali State Park – 

Distance – 3.1 miles

Jogging Stroller – No

Baby Carrier – Preferable, but there are areas where bigger kids can climb/hike on their own.

Dogs – Nope

Located in Novato, this hike can be harder for little ones to manage only because of the terrain. It’s 3.1 miles and for it’s featured hike has an elevation change of about 1000 feet. We did this when I was pregnant with the Peanut and the Big Kid was around 2.5 and most of the “hiking” looked like this.


The Husband and I managed just fine though and I think it the BK had been a little older he would have rocked it. There is an educational site as well that depicts a Miwok village that can be very entertaining to the kiddos!

Armstrong Redwood State Natural Reserve

Distance – Variable due to a large number of trails and combinations, but the easiest is a 1 mile loop and the hardest is a “strenuous” 9 miler. Take your pick.

Jogging Stroller – ok for the one mile loop and the discovery trails.

Baby Carrier – Yes, but the kiddos could probably walk the 1 mile loop and the discovery trails themselves.

Redwoods forests are always amazing and this one has what it takes to be one of the best. With a number of different trails to make the hike as easy or as hard you want it to be, this park also features discovery and nature trails, an amphitheater and picnic locations. It’s location makes it a little off the beaten path, but in springtime when all is lush and verdant and the wildflowers are in bloom? Amazing.


Whoa… trees.


Easy Hikes :

McClure’s Beach – Pt Reyes

Distance – 0.8 miles

Jogging Stroller – No

Baby Carrier – Yes, until the beach.

It’s not very far and it’s not very hard but the end result is WELL worth the time it takes to get out there (around 20 minutes past Pt. Reyes Station). An approximately 300 foot descent lands you on the beach, where craggy rocks and HUGE waves can mesmerize you. My kiddos like to rock scramble and collect shells and we love to just look at the raw power of the ocean. Check the surf reports though because when the waves get big here, they get REALLY big and they’ve been known to have sneaker waves here and there. Keep an eye on your kiddos and NO going in the water. Who would want to anyway? Brrrrr.

McClure Beach (1 of 1)-2

Fairway Waterfall – Novato

Distance – 1 mile out and back

Jogging Stroller – No

Baby Carrier – Yes, but you won’t have to use it whole time.

Dogs - Yes

This is an easy and quick hike that is very family friendly. During the winter and spring (when we’ve actually had rain) the waterfalls are beautiful and worth hiking out to. Layer up though because it’s hot in the beginning but gets chilly fast as you come under the cover of the trees and during the wet season it’s going to be pretty muddy on the trail. On the weekends when the water is running, this hike can be crowded so expect to hike with 8 gazillion of your closest friends. Marin Mommies has a great post with more information on this popular hike, so check it out for good directions on how to get there.


The BEST Hike (in my opinion)

Bartholomew Park Winery and Hiking Trails

Distance – 1-2 miles of loops

Jogging Stroller – No

Baby Carrier – Yes, but you won’t have to use it the whole time.

Dogs – On Leash

I bet you can’t guess why this is my FAVORITE hike so far? About a mile off Sonoma Square Bartholomew Park Winery not only boasts some incredible vintages, but beautiful hiking trails as well. Ranging from 1-2 miles, these trails offer benches to rest and gorgeous vistas of the Sonoma Valley. Starting at the base of the hill, next to the winery, you pop in and out of the forest, so layer appropriately for when you emerge into the blazing sun! The end of the trail drops you right back into the winery, so grab a sandwich beforehand at the Sonoma Cheese Factory and enjoy it with a bottle of ice cold Sauvignon Blanc at the picnic tables that dot the hills below.


I’m sensing a theme here…


There are TONS of these hikes all over the Bay Area and we are having the best time finding them as a family. With all of these hikes, bring water and snacks for the kiddos and even the potty if you’re potty training. (I don’t know WHAT I would do without this one, it’s perfect for hiking.) The weather can be super variable here in the North Bay, so layer up and be prepared for that cool shady weather to get HOT fast as the terrain changes on the trail.

I’ll keep adding more hikes as we find them, but do YOU have a favorite one here in the Bay Area?

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