Looking to travel far away without traveling far away?

Redwood Regional Park is a good choice then.  It's not a far drive from Highway 580 or Highway 13 but it's a forest of redwood trees, a trail network with something for everyone, and a wide open space perfect for exploring.

Stream Trail heading south.

There are two main trailheads, Skyline Gate on Skyline Drive and Canyon Meadow Staging Area of Redwood Road.  I love running on the East Ridge trail from the Skyline Gate trailhead.  But with kids it's the Redwood Gate where I go.

Drive to the end of the driveway and park at the end.  There's a large meadow there perfect for picnics.  Walk up the paved path up Stream Trail through redwood trees, meadows, and open spaces.  There is a small and rustic playground about 1/2 mile up the trail which is both fun but also worth passing up if your kids will let you.  There are more fun things to do up trail.  

Stream Trail heading north.

You could walk for miles but only go as far and as fast as those little legs want to go.  It's a great place to explore in the dry summer (read: shade) and wet winter with slugs, mushrooms, and flowing creek.  Speaking of the creek, most of it isn't accessible to us to explore because they're restoring it and keeping it clean.  But if you make it up to where Prince Trail meets the Stream Trail, keep going another 100 yards and you'll find an excellent place to wade, throw sticks, and do whatever things kids like to do when they're near water.  

About a mile up Stream Trail, and totally worth it.

This is a favorite place.  It's quiet, spacious and got a lot to offer.  It's close to city and very far away.  And we go all the time.

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Point Pinole

This is a new (or newly rediscovered) favorite of ours.  It's a great combination of lots to do and lots of space to roam.  My shoulders relax the second we leave the parking lot and start up the small hill to the bridge - there's room to run and yell and just be.  With a 2 year old and a 5 year old that's a good place to be.

Laying his claim.

If you turn left (south) after crossing the bridge you follow a wide fire road along the San Pablo Bay.  I think it's a perfect distance for 3-6 year old legs from there to a beach with a big Eucalyptus tree at its edge (I say that but know that they're removing a lot of the old Eucalyptus trees).  There are views, butterflies, horse poop, acorns, rocks, and a whole lotta space to run.

Another option is to stay on the paved road which runs down the middle of the peninsula/park.  It leads to some picnic areas and a rustic playground.  While I'm not a fan of playgrounds in general, this is a pretty nice one.  It's big and spacious and wooden with beautiful views.  One of my kids discovered clay under the sand on one visit and now immediately starts digging to make yet another clay baseball.  

With Mt Tam behind.

Something we haven't done yet, but want to do, is head out to the pier at the northern point of the park. There's a shuttle to take you there if your legs or wheels (the bicycle or scooter kind) can't get you there.  Check the sign near the parking lot to see the schedule.

We got a wave back.

One of our favorite parts... wait... one of Ben's favorite parts of this park is the train track that runs right by it.  If he had his way we would sit by the tracks or on the bridge that goes over them and watch the trains all day.  He would also like the trains to come more frequently than they do.  Plenty of time has been spent just sitting on the bridge waiting to hear the whistle or the rumble of the Amtrak.  I recommend bringing snacks for these kinds of occasions.  And lots of patience.

Getting there: 

About it: