(credit: Xurxo Lobato/Cover/Getty Images)
Opportunities for family hikes are plentiful in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the East Bay proudly boasting some mighty fine trails, including many at Mount Diablo State Park, a wonderful place to visit. Families with kids, youth and teens will enjoy exploring moderately challenging trails, wildflower hikes, panoramic views and indulge in exceptional outdoors activities.
Skyline Blvd, south of Elverton Drive
Oakland, CA 94611
With a name like Huckleberry, how can families resist a visit? This ecological gem offers a self-guided nature path, a 1.7-mile loop that navigates a wide range of maintained terrain. The draw here is its beauty and lushness, with flowers that seemingly bloom all year round, and foliage everywhere. The native plants here are unique to the East Bay, with some plants originating in an ancient biological past. Huckleberry Preserve is a tender place, with its year-round blossoming plants, areas of botanically rich soil and unique native plants found nowhere else around the East Bay. Due to its fragile nature, no dogs, bicycles or horses are allowed, and it is not accessible to wheelchairs.
96 Mitchell Canyon Road
Clayton, CA 94517
The ecological crown jewel of the East Bay, Mount Diablo is a nature lover’s paradise, with enough trails to satisfy just about any level of hiker, bicyclist or wildlife enthusiast. Families will find a lot to enjoy together on walking paths and moderate hikes that offer the best levels of challenge for small children to teens and adults. Along the way, stunning wildflowers, small and fascinating wildlife and distinctive rock configurations welcome visitors along the park’s extensive trail system. Check out these 10 moderate hikes for one just right for your family; checkpoints of interest can be found here for opportunities to enjoy Mount Diablo’s breathtaking panoramic views, beautiful wildflowers, sandstone rock formations and natural wildlife.
Wildcat Canyon Road &
Grizzly Peak Blvd.
Berkeley, CA 94708
Jewel Lake Trail, set in Berkeley’s Tilden Regional Park, is a perfect hike to enjoy with kids. Often considered the Bay Area’s best park for young children, Tilden Regional Park offers pony rides, steam trains, a carousel and a lakeside beach for family swim time. Also here is a botanic garden and environmental educational center to learn about the beauty all around. The Tilden Nature Area showcases a miniature working farm home to goats, sheep, pigs, cows, rabbits, and lots of chickens, geese and turkeys, and offers kids a fun learning opportunity to feed the animals. A walk along the Jewel Lake Trail passes through woods and over creeks via wooden bridges. Enjoy the oak, eucalyptus, bay and pine trees along the way, but be careful of the poison oak that lives here too. Rest a bit at Jewel Lake and see turtles, ducklings, mallards, ring-necked ducks and other lake dwellers enjoying the day.
7867 Redwood Road
Oakland, CA 94619
So near yet so far, Redwood Regional Park is Oakland’s not-quite-hidden treasure trove of majestic redwood trees, literally just a few miles from the city’s downtown. There are lots of open meadows to explore and a redwood forest to take your breath away. Several flat trails are right for kids and the Stream Trail is paved and long, sized right for bicycle and tricycle rides. A small playground and picnic areas help complete a not far from home family hiking day.
5175 Somersville Road
Antioch, CA 94509
For a family adventure that is different, cultural and historic, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve is the perfect spot for hiking, picnicking and nature study. Formerly the site of several coal mining communities followed by sand mining operations, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve offers kids and their families weekend Hazel-Atlas Mine Tours ($5 per person/approximately 90 minutes) to explore 1,000 feet of underground quarry. The park is home to a diverse wildlife population that includes coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, deer and more, plus over 100 bird species have been spotted, including the rare golden eagle. Children must be at least seven years old to enter the mine. Download the Hazel-Atlas Mine Tour brochure here. Check the website for additional park activities, including camping and naturalist programs.