We are fortunate in the Bay Area to have a wealth of trails at our feet. We are even more fortunate to have a number of organizations that want to support families in the exploration of said trails. Our family went on a hike with Marin County Parks’ Nature for Kids program over the Winter Break.
Our hike started at the San Andreas Rd entrance to Mount Burdell. We were met by enthusiastic “Power Rangers” (what our three year old called them), Dave and Shannon. They made an effort to greet every family member as they walked up (it was like being at a party with an effervescent host) and gave each child a pocket magnifying glass (made of plastic).
The end goal of the hike was going to be Hidden Lake, a seasonal pond that is apparently filled with frogs and salamanders during the wet season. We walked 1/4 of a mile up San Andreas Rd, which opens up to a beautiful open hillside with huge oak trees dotting the landscape (see featured image). Apparently this hill is covered with wildflowers during the spring– I can’t wait to come back!
Our hike meandered up the hill to Hidden Lake (also the lunch destination). The “Power Rangers” stopped several times throughout the hike to turn over various rocks and logs to look at the organisms living there. The hike was probably about a mile to the lake, and since there was a goodly number of kids on the trip, they kept each other moving. (One of the key benefits of hiking with a group of kids is that they will hike longer without complaining. It’s really great.) Unfortunately, the extensive drought meant that even with the rain we had in December, there was still no water in Hidden Lake. However, none of the kids cared. There was a huge hill opposite the lake and probably 1/2 of the kids climbed all the way to the top.
After lunch, everyone went back to their cars at their own pace. Overall, it was a great experience. The rangers were knowledgeable and friendly–and also gave lots of helpful guidance so as to not step on or destroy bugs and other small creatures in one’s enthusiasm. The hike was long enough to feel like small people were going to be tired at the end (particularly the kids who climbed the hillside), and Mount Burdell was gorgeous. Marin County Parks’ Nature for Kids hikes are FREE and you can just show up (but you must bring your own lunch). I don’t know if the magnifying glasses are standard fare, but they were a big hit with our kids and we’re definitely going to be taking them on future hikes. From what I can gather from the calendar, many of their Family Hikes happen during the week but they have a hike on Martin Luther King Jr Day that goes to Buck Gulch Falls (in Ignacio Valley Preserve), and then one on Sunday the 31st at Indian Valley that is a joint venture with the San Rafael organization WildCare, AND will be led in Spanish and English. See the calendar here for information.
(Kids. Running up a big hill.)
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