Point Pinole

I've developed a thing for Point Pinole.

The boys played tag in the sand, I stood very still and watched Western Bluebirds, other families spoke spanish and played on the slide, and men with fishing poles biked out to the pier.  At Point Pinole it's easy to feel very connected to the Bay Area and the people and built environment in it.  You can see the smoke stacks from the Chevron refinery in Richmond.  Mt Tam sits quietly across San Pablo Bay.  But also at Point Pinole it's easy to feel very connected to this moment and the natural world immediately around you.

I've developed a thing for Point Pinole.  And I'm liking it.


Morgan Territory

Morgan Territory was what I craved when I started Outside Kids.  Big open spaces, trees to explore, rocks to climb, and birds to track.  Lots of room to roam.  Writing about it makes me want to cancel whatever plans we have for tomorrow and go out there.  

What it's all about.

Located on the southeast side of Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County, Morgan Territory is out there.  It takes a while to get to.   And it takes some motivation for a drive and for something new.   Plus, doesn't the name of the park make it feel like you're going somewhere special?  It's not a park, it's a Territory.

Morgan Territory is a huge place and some of the trails go on for miles and miles.  You and your kid(s) could easily go out on one trail and just turn around when the time is right.  The Bob Waker Trail is one I'd love to walk the length of someday.  Another option, and one great for young children, is to make a loop counter-clockwise from the parking lot that is about a mile or so.   Start out on the Volvon Trail and turn left on the Condor Trail.  

 Owl pellets are very cool.

On one Outside Kids excursion to Morgan Territory we stopped to have lunch under an oak tree.  After eating her lunch, one of us, age 4, went exploring nearby and found a treasure.  Under a large hollow of a tree were dozens and dozens of owl pellets.  It was incredible!  Tiny bones and skulls, all laying there for the finding.  But not just bones... bones that owls threw up!  Eww, so gross.  The kids loved it.

The time of year to go to Morgan Territory is the winter and spring.  The grass will be green and the temperatures not too hot.  I love the moss that grows on the trees and which is beautifully exposed in the winter.  It's a stunning place.

Getting there: 
Transit and Trails

About it: 
Morgan Territory


Coyote Hills

July is dry but beautiful.

Coyote Hills is the place to go under a few conditions: 
  • It's hot inland and you want to be near the Bay.
  • You're looking for a meeting place for friends who live in Silicon Valley or the South Bay.
  • You dig birds like wintering ducks or the ginormous White Pelican. 
  • You want to learn something about the Ohlone people who lived here before us.
  • Some little legs want to ride a bike somewhere new.

Squirrel holes.

Coyote Hills is a beautiful park to explore.  It's where Alameda Creek meets the Bay and has lots of bike trails to ride.  It's also on the east side of the Dumbarton Bridge, out in the Bay.

The park is big for little legs so if you plan to go far, bring wheels of some kind.  There are flat and wide and paved trails throughout and so you could spend the day riding around in big circles.

But you don't really need to go far or bikes to enjoy this place.  The visitor center is one of my favorites and there's a great picnic area right at the parking lot.  It's shady there with some beautiful old oak trees.  There are wooden boardwalks over the marsh that give you some fun ways to see the birds.  The marsh at Coyote Hills is one of the pit stops on the Pacific Flyway and so in the winter you will be overwhelmed with birds.  Birds, birds, birds!  You could easily spend a few hours within a half mile of the Visitor Center.

Salt flats = fun.

This picture was taken on a trip there in July.  We walked to the northern part of the park and walked out onto one of the salt flats.  It was like being on the moon.  The salt is crunchy with mud beneath it and various levels of wetness.  Our shoes were filthy, but it was a lot of fun to explore. 

Also there's an old Ohlone shellmound that is totally worth visiting.  The Park District has done a good job of preserving (or recreating) it so we can get a sense of how our predecessors lived in the area.

That's my son imitating a Great Blue Heron.  Can you tell?  

Coyote Hills is an expansive and stunning place to visit.  What you find in July will be different than what you see in November.  Just like what you will do with a 5 year old there will be different than what you do with a 2 year old.  The good news is that there is something for all ages and all seasons.  

Getting there: 

About it: