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.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve

October 30, 2014

Baltimore Canyon Open Space PreserveOne of the best things about living in Marin has to be the Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD). With countless miles of trails crossing unspoiled open space and wilderness areas, there's never a shortage of great hikes, amazing views, and opportunities to get close to nature.

One of the MCOSD's jewels, Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve, is a fantastic place for a family hike at any time of year. Located in the foothills of Mt. Tam between Kentfield and Larkspur, this 193-acre preserve offers some of the best scenery in Marin, and is relatively easy to get to, making it a convenient place for a day hike with the kids.

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Deer Island Open Space Preserve

September 16, 2014

Deer Island Open Space PreserveOne of the great things about living in Marin is that you're never far from open space and nature. A favorite Marin spot for a quick outdoor getaway is Deer Island Open Space Preserve in Novato. Just a few minutes away from Highways 101 and 37 it's a calm oasis of nature that's perfect for a short and easy hike with children.

Despite its name, Deer Island really isn't an island. It used to be one at one time, but now it's a small hill surrounded by grassy meadows and seasonal wetlands. At this 135-acre preserve you'll find two main trails, the Deer Island Loop Trail, which circles the preserve, and the De Borba Trail, which leads up and over the hill. Two short spur trails take you to other parts of the preserve.

The 1.8-mile Deer Island Loop Trail is relatively flat and even with only minor elevation changes and is a great hiking choice for families with kids. It passes through grasslands and oak and bay forest and provides plenty of stunning vistas of northern Marin, including wetlands and Novato Creek. There's even a tumbled-down old farm to look at along the way.

Take a Family Hike at Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve

September 4, 2014

Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve in San RafaelFamilies looking for a short, easy hike with interesting things to see along the way should check out Santa Margarita Island Open Space Preserve in northern San Rafael. Located in the Santa Venetia neighborhood just east of the Marin Civic Center, this small preserve really is a little island surrounded by tidal wetlands. It's home to numerous birds and other wildlife, so make sure you bring your binoculars!

Open the gate and walk across the little bridge onto the four-and-a-half-acre island. You'll see pilings and concrete walls, which are the remains of a failed development from the early 1900s that sought to transform the area into a Venice-like town, complete with canals and gondolas (and hence the name Santa Venetia). The bridge is a great place to look for shorebirds that live in the wetlands, including egrets, black-necked stilts, and the endangered California clapper rail.

Once over the bridge, you'll be on the trailhead. Go right or left—it doesn't matter, because the whole trail is a flat, .3-mile loop. It's easy for hikers of any age, and can probably be managed with an off-road capable stroller, too. No bikes are allowed here—just hikers and equestrians.

Hike Into the Past at Kule Loklo in Point Reyes

July 19, 2014

Kule LokloExplore a piece of Marin's past at Kule Loklo, a reconstruction of a Coast Miwok village located near the Point Reyes National Seashore visitor center in Bear Valley. It's just a short .3-mile hike from the parking area, but it feels like you're travelling a world away, back to a time before European settlement in California.

Kule Loklo, which means "Bear Valley", was created back in the 1970s to give visitors to Point Reyes an idea of what life was like for Native Americans in the area. The village is not built on the site of any existing Miwok settlement, but is in a place where one definitely could have been, with a nearby creek and plenty of oak trees and wildlife.

The trail to Kule Loklo is easy to manage for everyone, and perfect for an off-road stroller. On the way, you'll get a nice view of the Morgan Horse farm and other facilities at Bear Valley. Follow the trail to the right, pass a stand of tall eucalyptus trees, and you'll find yourself at Kule Loklo.

Explore the Mill Valley-Sausalito Bike Path

July 13, 2014

Mill Valley–Sausalito Multi-use PathMarin strives to be a bicycle-friendly place to live, so it's never to early to get your kids up on two wheels, even if it's with training wheels (which would actually make it four wheels). One of our go-to places to ride is the Mill Valley–Sausalito Multi-use Path, a 3.5-mile trail that's popular with cyclists and walkers in southern Marin.

The trail starts at Vasco Court near Edna McGuire Elementary School and travels through Mill Valley south past Camino Alto and Tamalpais High School, through Bothin Marsh Open Space Preserve, over bridges that cross creeks and sloughs, along Richardson Bay, and eventually to Gate 5 Road on the Sausalito waterfront. The trail is wide and flat and suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities.

Along the way, you can look for birds and other wildlife in the marsh and in Richardson Bay, and take in amazing views of Mt. Tamalpais.

The Mountain Play Goes Tropical with "South Pacific"

May 19, 2014

2014 Mountain Play South PacificThe Mountain Play makes musical magic once again with its 101st production: Rodgers and Hammerstein's South PacificSet in a tropical island paradise during World War II and featuring classic songs like "Some Enchanted Evening", "Happy Talk", "Bali Ha'i", and "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair", this year's production is directed by Bay Area theater pro Linda Dunn. Dunn also happens to be the ex-wife of veteran Mountain Play director Jim Dunn, who performs in South Pacific as US Navy Captain George Brackett.

South Pacific tells two parallel love stories, one of Ensign Nellie Forbush (Taylor Chalker), a spunky Navy nurse, and local French plantation owner Emile de Becque (Peter Vilkin); the other of Lieutenant Joseph Cable (Tyler Costin) and young island woman Liat (Mia Klenk). The cast also features Randy Nazarian in  as Luther Billis and Lily Tung Crystal as Bloody Mary.

As always, it's fantastic live musical entertainment for the whole family, and a don't-miss Marin experience. My kids look forward to going to the Mountain Play every year. Great tickets are still available for Mountain Play performances on May 25 and June 1, 7, 8, and 15. All shows begin at 2 pm.

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