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Hiking in Marin with Baby
Fifteen Fun, Family-friendly Hikes to Try

by Kristin Pederson

I have been hiking Marin with my husband, Brian, for the last six years, and we are finding new hikes all the time (even though Brian has lived here most of his life). Our ten month old son, Keegan, has led us on new paths (literally), first on the stroller-friendly, and then the more rugged jogger trails. I am constantly amazed at how much Keegan loves being outdoors, and am so appreciative of the beautiful place we live in. His current top three nature favorites are herons, wind and pine cones. We've listed below a few of our favorite walks/hikes in Marin and hope you will try them with your families. The rating roughly translates to: 0 = as flat as they get; 1 = still pretty darn flat; 2 = some hills, but not difficult; 3 = ok, now we're getting more challenging - you may even get winded occasionally; 4 = lots of
steep hills - definitely a good work out, but still suitable for a baby backpack, especially if you're not the one carrying it.

Brian and I are considering starting a monthly families hike on a weekend morning. If you would be interested in joining us, please let me know at Happy trails to all of you!

- Kristin Pedersen

Paved Scenic Strolls

* Creek Park, Greenbrae
Difficulty: 0
Path begins at Creek Park, just across the street from Marin General, and follows Corte Madera Creek. The path is wide – bicycle, dog and stroller friendly – and the walk is nice. You can follow it to the College of Marin, or all the way into Ross. There is also a great playground where the path begins.

* Blackie’s Pasture, Tiburon
Difficulty: 0
Plenty of parking, very scenic stroll with great Bay views. You can walk all the way from Blackie’s pasture to downtown Tiburon. There is also a nice playground along the walk.

* Angel Island
Difficulty: 2
Take the ferry from Tiburon ($5/person). There is a five-mile paved road around the perimeter of the Island. Great views.

* Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Lagunitas
Difficulty: 0
Several flat paved trails through beautiful redwood groves and along creek. Can see salmon spawning late winter/early spring.

* Earthquake Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore, Olema
Difficulty: 0
Starts across street from park headquarters. Short educational trail passes fence split by fault line in the 1906 earthquake.

Rougher terrain trails – suitable for Jogging strollers

* Lake Lagunitas
Difficulty: 1-2.5
MMWD watershed above Fairfax off Bolinas-Fairfax Rd. Two mile loop around lake. Very peaceful walk with lots of birds, including heron and egrets. Large picnic area with tables and restrooms. One steep hill.

* Deer Park
Difficulty: 1-3
Deer Park, Fairfax (end of Porteous Rd) Trail starts behind Fairfax/San Anselmo Daycare Center. Wide fireroad runs through light wooded area. Long steep hill about one mile in.

* Phoenix Lake
Difficulty: 1-2
Natalie Coffin Green Park, Ross: Two and a half mile loop around lake.  Can only go about 2/3rds of the way around with jogging stroller. Great place to feed the ducks.  Parking lot is small and is closed on Sundays.

* Abbots Lagoon Trail
Difficulty: 1
Point Reyes National Seashore: Take Pierce Ranch Road to the right off of Sir Francis Drake Highway and follow approximately 4 miles to small parking area with restrooms.Trailhead is on the left side of the road. 3.2 mile trail is level and passes lagoon before ending at the beach. Very scenic and lots of wildlife.

Hiking Trails: Suitable for baby backpacks

* Cataract Trail
Difficulty: 4
Take Bolinas-Fairfax Road to Alpine Lake. Park at/near hairpin turn approximately mile after crossing Alpine Dam.Trail begins alongside lake, and follows steep trail up chain of beautiful waterfalls cascading down wooded canyon. 4 miles round trip up and down, but can see big waterfalls early on hike. Best falls in Marin. A must see after a big rain.

* Bald Hill
Difficulty: 4
From Deer Park or Phoenix Lake.Steep trail approx 1 miles to summit and 360 degree view of Marin, Bay, Mount Tamalpais. Exposed and very hot in summer, windy in winter.

* Tomales Point Trail
Difficulty: 2-3
Take Pierce Ranch Road to the right off of Sir Francis Drake Highway and follow approximately 9.5 miles to Pierce Ranch parking area with restrooms. Trail climbs and falls through grassy ridge along coastline. Expansive views of both Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay, and herds of huge Tule Elk. Trail is about 8 miles round trip to Tomales Point, but Elk and coastal views can be seen sooner. NOTE: From same parking lot, can hike about 1 mile to sand dunes at McClures Beach.

* Audubon Canyon Ranch Trail
Difficulty: 2
Ranch is about 2 miles north of Stinson Beach on Highway 1. Trail rises mile up wooded hillside to view point of rare herons and egrets. Open Spring through Mid-summer to see baby birds nesting in trees. Telescopes and guides available. In spring, look for Harbor Seals in Bolinas Lagoon alongside Highway 1.

* Dawn Falls Trail
Difficulty: 2
Trail in Larkspur:Corte Madera Avenue to Madrone Avenue to Valley Way. 1.4 mile trail, steep in parts, to 25 foot waterfall.

* Bootjack Parking Lot
Difficulty: 2-4
Panoramic Highway up Mount Tamalpais. At summit/Stinson Beach split, turn left into Bootjack Parking Lot. Variety of trails include 6 mile loop to the summit, descent into Muir Woods, level paved/fireroad stroll to Coastal Trail and ocean views, steep 2 mile descent through ferns and redwoods and alongside waterfalls on Steep Ravine Trail, or difficult 6.5 mile round trip hike to/from Stinson Beach. Restrooms and information booth available.

Kristin Pedersen grew up on the East Coast but transplanted to the Bay Area in 1991. After one week in San Francisco, she vowed never to go back. She met her husband, Brian, in law school. Brian grew up in Marin and easily convinced Kristin to move there with him in 1994. Their son, Keegan, was born February 3, 1999, and began terrorizing their two cats shortly thereafter. Kristin and Keegan joined the Spring Marin Moms group when Keegan was 9 weeks old, where they met a number of fabulous Moms and Babes. Kristin takes a break from her full-time mommy job to practice law part-time, but she and Keegan continue to enjoy spending time with the Marin Moms group. Email Kristin at


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