Sometimes, you’re in the mood for hiking, gearing up for a day outside, with the little ones strapped to your back as you rough it. Other times, you’re far less ambitious, hoping for the baby to fall asleep during a ride in the stroller while the coffee in the cupholder is still hot. If you’re up for some fresh air but want the wheels to do most of the work, this list of 11 easy stroller hikes is for you.
photo: catd_mitchell via flickr
Golden Gate Park
We all know how much this park has to offer, though its size may seem daunting for a simple stroll. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the wide, beautifully landscaped trails with gardens and playgrounds along the way. Try entering at Stanyan and Haight and walking your way toward the coast.
Location: Stanyan and Haight, San Francisco
Redwood Regional Park
The paved trail here is short and sweet at 1 mile long. Perfect to get a dose of nature, without having to strap a day’s worth of baby gear on your back. Bring the stroller for the baby and the bicycle for the toddler, and do 2 miles round-trip on the Stream Trail. Along the way, enjoy a canopy of redwood trees (bring sweaters for the shade) and a playground.
Location: 7867 Redwood Rd., Oakland
Take the Lakeside Nature Trail, a paved, 2.7-miles around the Lafayette reservoir. It’s mostly flat and shady, with pretty views of the hills and water. When you’re ready to break from walking, choose a table on the east lawn, where the playground will keep little squirmballs busy. Remember to bring $6 for parking (exact change only), or to bring plenty of quarters for metered, 2-hour parking. Location: 3849 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette
Inspiration Point/Nimitz Way
This trails goes for miles, with some hills that eventually even out, passing through meadow and grove. It’s paved and stroller-friendly, and a favorite with parents for the beautiful vistas. (Just look out for bicyclists zipping down the hill!) The whole loop is about 8 miles out and back, so most families dedicate a couple hours to the trail, getting as far along as the little ones are up for.
Location: Wildcat Canyon Road off of South Park Drive, Berkeley
Mount Diablo State Park
This rugged mountain may not be the first to come to mind, but it does have its gentler points. Near the summit, the Mary Bowerman Interpretive Trail is quite doable at less than a mile long, with access to the Summit Museum and lots of picnic tables.
Location: Summit Road off of Southgate, Danville
Point Pinole Regional Shoreline
This easy hike is nearly all flat, with some gentle hills, picnic areas, and a children’s playground. You don’t even have to walk to the fishing pier – a shuttle will pick up guests from the parking lot.
Location: 5551 Giant Hwy., Richmond
photo: Leonard Chien via flickr
This hundreds-of-acres large preserve includes miles of wide, pleasant trails. Enter the park gate at Prospect Road for a view of Silicon Valley, or take the Seven Springs Loop to enjoy the oak groves and search for lizards in the meadow. This trail can be hilly, and is popular with bicyclists.
Location: Prospect Rd. off of De Anza Blvd. in Cupertino
Martin Griffin Preserve
This 1,000-acre wildlife sanctuary is the perfect spot to bring tiny explorers. Set off on the Picher Canyon to Garden Club Canyon trail and you’ll have about a mile hike with an all-natural canyon, a pond, a seasonal creek and a bridge to traverse. On Saturdays in the summer, join the Nature Guides for themed activities
Location: 4900 Shoreline Highway 1, Stinson Beach
Verna Dunshee Loop Trail
At less than a mile long, this is as flat and paved as you can get on the Sleeping Lady and the go-to for the stroller set who want to climb a mountain. It’s still Mt. Tam, however, so beware of some narrow passes and steep outlook points. Find the Verna Dunshee Loop on Mt. Tam’s East Peak, by the visitor center ($8 to park), and look forward to a front-row view of the Pacific Ocean.
Location: East Ridgecrest off of Pantol, Mill Valley
This trail, which begins at Blackie’s Pasture and continues on to downtown Tiburon, is flat and easy. Stroll along slowly, enjoy the views of the Bay, stop at the playground, and read about the history of the area with the help of some reading plaques along the way.
Location: Intersection of Trestle Glen Rd., Tiburon
Corte Madera Creek Path, Greenbrae
A favorite with locals on bikes, with dogs, and pushing strollers, this wide, easy path begins with a neat playground (Hal Brown Park) sectioned off for preschoolers and for older kids. If you can convince the kids off the climbing structure, you can walk with them from here all the way into Ross.
Location: Bon Air Rd., Greenbrae
Where do you take your kids stroller hiking? Tell us about your favorite spots in the comment section below.
—Renee Macalino Rutledge