Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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Fall colors in the Bay Area? “It’s one of the common misconceptions about the Bay Area. We do have an autumn here,” said Ranger Mike Moran of the East Bay Regional Park District when I asked him about places to find heaps of dead leaves in the East Bay. Now that cold temps have settled in, the sea has gotten rougher and trees are baring their branches happily, it’s time to take the kids out for a good fall hike! Never mind the weather, kids just love kicking some leaves and experiencing the changing season. I interviewed Mike, who currently works at Black Diamond Mines, on the best spots to take kids out in the East Bay this fall. Here is his selection of East Bay fall hikes for families.
The area of Tilden Park next to the Little Farm is amazing for kids. They can go to Jewel Lake and use the boardwalk to go through willows, see Wildcat creek and the little pond. Around the lake parents will find a trail that’s great for jogging strollers and kids can spy turtles in water. Last year we even got the rare sighting of a wild river otter.
With a playground right by the entrance, a fishing pier at the tip and dog-friendly trails, Point Pinole is a gem waiting to be discovered. As it’s paved right through the center, kids can ride their bike a lot through the park. Going to the pier is about 2 miles long and you can stop at the big turf area with a tot lot on the way back. Plus – where else do you find a eucalyptus forest with a dynamite past?
Big Break Regional Shoreline offers a fun Delta discovery experience for kids and is stroller accessible. The park’s all flat and includes one of the best access areas to the delta of the San Francisco/San Joaquin Delta estuary, together with a great birding opportunity. Kids love the 1200 square foot map of the Delta that they can walk on. You can pour water on it and see the water flow through the rivers! It even has all the cities marked on it. To hike, check out the Big Break Regional Trail that connects with the Marsh Creek Regional Trail.
At Diablo Foothills, I love walking along Pine Creek past Castle Rock Recreation Area going towards the dam. Kids will encounter neat rock outcroppings in the canyon as well as wild grape, oak trees, alders and maple trees. Walking on Stage Road Trail, the creek sets you right along the valley for a 1-mile in, 1-mile back hike. If you feel up for more, you can even walk all the way to Pine Forest and Mount Diablo.
For kids who love to climb rocks, Rock City on the south side of Mount Diablo has a lot of big rock shelters and is fantastic for scrambling around.
The Lindsey Wildlife Museum is a precious rainy day spot in Walnut Creek where kids see live owls and hawks as well as bring injured critters that needs help. This place is a hospital for wild animals and kids will be able to learn a lot while seeing mammals and raptors up close.