Yes, it’s been a while. Call it life. But today, we went out for a jaunt that absolutely required a posting so that your family can have the opportunity to avail yourself of such wonders. On somewhat of a last-minute whim, we headed out to Big Break Regional Shoreline for the afternoon. It’s a schlep even for those of us who live in Contra Costa County– from SF or the South Bay, it will be a trek. But worth it, I tell you!
First, the Visitor Center at Big Break is very well done. If you have tiny people and flexibility during the week, they have programs for little people on various weekdays. We do not have weekday flexibility, but most Saturday & Sundays, they have “Discovery Days” that offer an art activity during the hours of 11-2. The rest of the Visitor Center has something for everyone. There are models of river otters and “tunnels” that toddlers can crawl through, and a high-powered microscope that let us see phytoplankton swimming through some delta water and crayfish claws up VERY close. There is a permanent art station that involves tracing various delta animals and coloring them– while the kiddo partook of the special art activity (OF COURSE), she also wanted to trace ALL the animals. We’d still be there if she was in charge. There was also a very interesting exhibit for the more historically-inclined that outlined the various plans for the Delta/water usage in the Bay Area throughout the last 75 years. Probably not for your 3 year old, but definitely interesting for others of us.
The rangers/docents working in the center were also very kind and welcoming– some of the most welcoming I’ve met in the East Bay Park system (and that’s saying a lot, because they have some really great people working for them).
Outside the Visitor Center, one heads naturally for the water– and just before you get to the water, there is a fantastic large-scale, walk (or ride a bike)-on-top-of map of the Delta area. Every time I see it, I’m reminded that I really don’t know almost anything about the Delta, and considering its importance in the ecological health of the entire state, that’s kind of a sad thing for a born-and-raised-here Californian. There is a covered area that juts out over the water, and just to the left of the pier/covered area, there is a small put-in area for kayaks, should you have some you wish to paddle out.
Big Break isn’t really known for its many hiking trails. However, the one small trail you can take DOES lead to a beaver dam! Perfect for a hike with tiny people (maybe .5 miles total), you leave the main bike path and walk until you can look to the right and see what is clearly a beaver dam– ask the rangers if you are not sure.
What Big Break DOES have is GREAT biking possibilities. If you have young bikers, there are plenty of places to scoot or bike on flat, open paths. If you want to continue on a longer trek with older and stronger bikers, follow the Big Break Regional Trail until it intersects with Marsh Creek Regional Trail, which can take you to the De Anza Regional trail. You could probably get a good 15 miles in on paved bike path, and for someone who lives in an area that feels, well, not conducive to bikers who are just getting started, this is fantastic.
Dogs are totally fine if on leash. While there are plenty of places to get water, bring snacks.
Finally, NOW is the time to go to Big Break. During the summer months, it’s very, very hot. If you’re a former resident of Fresno, you’ll probably be fine, but for those of you coming from San Francisco, it will probably be a major shock to your system. There are plenty of permanent shade tarps (? is this what they are called?) but I would recommend getting out there in the spring or fall for optimal weather.