There are miles of gorgeous trails to traverse around here, so it’s a pretty big compliment to be dubbed “the most perfect 1-hour hike in the Bay Area.” So if you haven’t yet, we think you are going to want to give Lake Lagunitas a visit.

girl_at_lake_hiking

 Photo by Oleh Slobodeniuk via Flickr

Happy Trails
The smallest of the five lakes within the Mt. Tamalpais watershed, Lake Lagunitas offers a shady, flat hike with plenty of places perfect for picnicking. Clocking in at under two miles, the loop around the lake is manageable for little ones, with lots of spots for breaks and tossing pebbles into the creeks that feed into the lake. Around the dam, you’re likely to see osprey, turtles, and possibly a newt or two. The trails here are dog friendly, and you’ll want to make sure your little ones are alert for mountain bikers, but fat tires and little legs (and wagging tails) share the trail with ease. Three small bridges on the loop offer up photo ops, as well as good spots to let the kids take a break.

When to Go
This being Marin, this trail is pretty much a winner 365 days a year, with the exception of red flag fire hazard days (Check their website before you go to make sure you are in the clear). Sunny days make for the best lake views, but be sure to bring sunscreen, water and a hat, as you and your mini sherpas will be exposed to the elements and out of the shade for a portion of the hike. The park is open from 7 a.m. to sunset.

The Essentials
Getting there is a snap. From Fairfax, take Sir Francis Drake to Bolinas Road and then follow the signs for Lake Lagunitas. Take a left on Sky Oaks Rd and continue to the last parking lot. Visitors must purchase a vehicle parking pass for $8 at the automated pay station located at the Sky Oaks Headquarters entry kiosk. (The pay station accepts credit cards and $1, $5, and $10 bills; $20 bills are not accepted.) Walk through the picnic area, and then up the steps alongside the man-made waterfall. Kids get a thrill out of the rushing water, especially in the weeks just after the rainy season ends. Once you’re at the top, hit the trail!

Post-Trail Treat
Afterwards, head down to Fairfax Scoop, an organic ice cream parlor that serves up rotating flavors like Lemon Poppyseed, Chai Spice, and Vanilla Honey Lavender, as well as kiddie faves chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

Lake Lagunitas
Sky Oaks Rd
Fairfax, Ca
Online: marinwater.org

Fairfax Scoop
63 Broadway Blvd.
Ca, Fairfax
Open noon–10 p.m. every day

Have you been to Lake Lagunitas? What are your tips for first-time visitors? Tell us in the comments below. 

—Sarah Bossenbroek and Erin Feher