Don those helmets, pack up that picnic and scoot on over to these Bay Area bike trails, perfect for your energetic little rider. From a cruise-y lakeside loop, to a magical weave amongst the redwoods, keep reading for the best bike paths to test out your kids’ pedal-power.
Photo: Carol Shoaff via Flickr
North Bay: Lake Lagunitas
A short drive from downtown Fairfax in the North Bay, you’ll find Lake Lagunitas, a two-mile lakeside loop perfect for little scooters and bikers alike. The smallest lake in the Mount Tamalpais watershed, Lake Lagunitas is ideal for new riders with its wide pathway and no major uphills or downhills to navigate. Bring your hats, sunglasses and drinks galore for you and your minis, as the Lake can be a sun-trap in warmer weather.
Getting There: Find detailed driving directions to Lake Lagunitas at marinwater.org.
Good to Know: Be sure to have cash on hand for the $8 park entrance fee.
Photo: Courtesy of the author
Marin Headlands: Tennessee Valley
Another fantastic family ride, this almost-flat (most of the way), 8.5-mile round trail is great for a full day trip or for the more adventurous older riders. Cruise your way through a valley and then lock-it-up and head over to the pretty, secluded Tennessee Cove, for a well-deserved picnic on the beach.
Getting There: http://www.nps.gov/goga/ – Click on Plan Your Visit / Tennessee Cove. Please note: No four-legged friends allowed on the main trail.
West Marin: Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Nestled in the wooded hills of Marin, Samuel P. Taylor State Park boasts a paved, three-mile bike trail conveniently close to the campgrounds. Following the former Northwest Pacific Railroad right-of-way, the trail is almost level, making it excellent for learner riders. Kids will enjoy listening to the sound of the bubbling creek and pointing out some wildlife along the way. Be sure to take a peek at their website parks.ca.gov, before you go for park closure, info and directions
photo credit: yelp via Amy P.
East Bay: Redwood Regional Park
Tucked inside Oakland’s Redwood Regional Park, you and your kiddos will enjoy this one-mile paved, flat trail through a magical redwood forest. With plenty of room for little legs to pedal or run, both open meadow and trail provide a nature-rich adventure for all ages. Great for families with little and bigger riders, the Stream Trail is paved far enough along the route for a decent bicycle or tricycle ride and there’s a children’s play structure about one-quarter mile down the path. Bonus! Pack a snack and a trail map and let those wheels rip.
Getting There: The main entrance, Redwood Gate, is on Redwood Road in Oakland about two miles east of Skyline Blvd. See ebparks.org for more info
Photo Credit Don Debold via Flickr
South Bay: Los Alamitos Creek Bike Trail
Beginning at Almaden Lake Park in south San Jose, the Los Alamitos Creek Bike Trail is yet another fantastic easy beginner ride. One long paved straightaway that’s shaded by trees makes this one a great choice for a hot day. Feeling more ambitious? Why not go whole-hog and tackle the full seven-mile length. The trail runs along the creek from Los Alamitos Park and Lake Almaden south to McKean Road, and with no undulations, it should be a breeze for everyone in the family. Plan your route with a trail map, found here.
South Bay: Saddle Loop Trail
Got older kids? Check out Saddle Loop Trail, a two-mile gravel loop that passes through a eucalyptus grove and mature cypress trees up on top of San Bruno Mountain. Zip along the satisfyingly crunchy limestone and breathe in that sweet eucalyptus scent all while taking in killer views of the Bay, San Francisco Skyline and Sutro Tower.
Getting There: Access the Trail from the Main Parking Lot and stay south of Guadalupe Canyon Road. For more info check out parks.smcgov.org/saddle-loop-trail.
Photo: Todd Fahrner via Flickr
San Francisco: Mission Creek Park
With views of AT&T Park in the background, this approximately half-mile-long tiled straightaway that runs along Mission Creek in San Francisco’s Mission Bay/SOMA neighborhood is ideal, with a wide pathway and ample room for your little tike to coast away. Make your way down this scenic esplanade and follow the windy paved path and rolling green grass, taking in the sights of this urban oasis. Bonus: This park boasts some of the city’s cleanest public restrooms.
Getting There: Access Mission Creek from Channel or Berry Street between 4th and 5th streets. Check out a map and get more info at missionbayparks.com.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city! Fabulous views and a sea-breeze await you and your little explorers on Angel Island. Hit the Perimeter Road, a six mile, partially paved path that casually loops around the island. The perfect trail for families, Bay Area Rides describes the route as “the best ride for all ages in California”. With plenty of opportunities for Instagram-worthy pit-stops, the circuitous road boasts a 360 degree panorama of the entire San Francisco Bay. The best bit? No cars are allowed on the Island so little riders can let off steam, while moms and dads can hang back and soak up the view.
Where are your favorite spots to let your little ones spin their wheels?
–Kirsty Wilson and Yannina Pacis