East Bay Regional Park District

Kids Camp: Stone Age Time Travelers at Coyote Hills

One of my favorite local Bay Area parks is Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, CA.  If you glance at my Instagram feed you will see that I'm there very often!  This is my go-to-park for spending time outdoors with my children by hiking, biking, nature walks and visiting the Butterfly Garden.

Not only does Coyote Hills provide great outdoor activities, they also have many family events throughout the year and are very involved with the local community!  If you are located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Coyote Hills has a special kid summer program that I'm very excited to tell you about...

Kids Camp: Stone Age Time Travelers

Photo by East Bay Regional Park District

Play outdoors and practice skills once needed to survive everyday life in the ancient wilds!
  • Learn to create shelter, fire, cordage and tools.
  • Discover edible and useful plants.
  • Play games of the past and visit an Ohlone Village site.
  • Embark on a fun-filled Stone Age journey through hands-on wilderness skills and nature awareness practices.

When: July 20-23, 2015 [4 days]

Time: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

At this outdoor day camp event kids (ages 9-13), can play and learn local outdoor skills that bring confidence and boost self-esteem.  As a parent, it's always exciting to see my kids learn new skills especially when it's a skill that doesn't require modern technology.  From making Cattail mats to fire-making pump drills, this is fun day camp for kids to learn and be active outdoors this summer.

Photo by East Bay Regional Park District

How to Register

Registration by Phone: Call 1-888-327-2757, option 2

Cost: $200 for residents of Alameda & Contra Costa counties / $220 for non-residents

For Ages: 9-13

Registrations Dates: May 19th - July 16th, 2015

For more information, please visit East Bay Regional Park District Facebook.

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Related Posts and Links:
  1. Backpacker Magazine - Oakland, CA: Red Hill, Coyote Hills Regional Park
  2. My Backyard Hike - Coyote Hills Regional Park
  3. Family Hiking Adventure Completed: 2013 Trails Challenge
  4. A Hike Before the Rain...

This is a sponsored post by East Bay Regional Park District.  As always these are my true and honest opinions. 

Happy Times at Black Diamond Mines: Family Backpacking [Video]

We truly had happy times at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.  Backpacking with children is ALWAYS an adventure, lots of fun and work! For our first backpacking trip of 2014, we chose a local overnight trip to Stewartville Backpack Camp at Black Diamond Mines in Antioch, CA.  

This a family-friendly 3.2 mile hike-in camp in the East Bay hills.  Trip Report will be coming soon! Until then enjoy my little video of our fun and successful backpacking adventure with our little ones!

Thank you for watching!!

Related PostsSnake Encounters on the Trail with Kids

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Family Peak Bagging: Tolman Peak at Garin Dry Creek Pioneer

This is not about bagging a 14er, not even close! Tolman Peak does not reach 1,000 ft but that does not mean we didn't get great views of the San Francisco Bay Area!

View of the San Francisco Bay Area from Tolman Peak
If you are not familiar with "Peak Bagging", that is an outdoor term for reaching the peak of a mountain like one of Colorado's famous mountains above 14,000 feet.  Technically our little family "bagged" Tolman Peak, at only 947 ft, it is still peak bagging!  Tolman Peak is more like a hill but from the top you can see the entire San Francisco Bay Area, from the South Bay to out past San Francisco.

Garin Dry Creek is surprisingly remote once a mile has gone by.  I would consider Garin Dry Creek an "urban outdoors" park because its right up against two cities Union City and Hayward.  Surrounded by California State East Bay, cemeteries and residential areas.  Yet on almost every occasion we've been there we have encountered wildlife (alive and dead) and felt like we were miles away.

"Tolman Peak has a little kick to it!"

On this warm winter day, we wanted a relaxing hike to let the kids burn some energy so we decided to hike at Garin Dry Creek, Tolman Peak.  We only need to hike to Gossip Rock and then we can say we have hiked on every trail at Garin Dry Creek!  It was a busy day at the park that even the May Road Entrance parking lot was full.  We actually had to park outside on the Mission Blvd, which added 0.55 miles to this 4.75 mile hike (from May Parking Lot).

Shady May Trail

May Trail is very shady and is not much like the rest of the park, which is exposed grassy hills.  Our kids have issues with hiking fast up even the slightest uphill so even though Tolman Peak has some elevation gain the majority of the hike is perfect for my not-so-energetic two year old daughter.  We continued onto High Ridge Loop Trail which is a fire road and could still hear all the traffic sounds from cars and the BART train.

Ladybugs were plentiful throughout the day which motivated the kids moving to find the next ladybug down the trail. Near the fork of High Ridge Loop and Tolman Peak Trail there was a waterhole for the grazing cattle and they all were laying in the shade. When I'm hiking alone with the kids, we normally hike to the waterhole and the kids throw rocks in the pond so the kids were a little astonished to see the cows in "their spot".

Our kids were in their hiking "groove" along the Tolman Peak Trail which followed a creek that actually had water flowing in it!  Dry Creek was not dry and the sounds of croaking frogs made my kids happy.  We reached a little bridge that was surrounded by large Pine and Eucalyptus trees, all of a sudden I realized that even though we were probably less than 2 miles away from the busy streets of Hayward I felt I like I was 100 miles away from civilization.  No more traffic or train sounds, all the other park visitors were gone and we were alone with the sounds of the croaking frogs and my kids screaming! Sometimes there's no need to drive far away to get into the Great Outdoors.

After a little break near the bridge, we finally made it to the base of Tolman Peak and it was time to hike uphill.  We didn't want the kids to get burned out nor spend hours on end going up hill so I carried my daughter in my Ergo and my husband picked up our boy unto his shoulders.  Tolman Peak definitely has a little kick to it, let's just say my husband and I got a workout!

I love My Hiking Family!

Where is Tolman Peak?

Obviously Tolman Peak exists...I was just a little confused about where the actual peak was. According to the East Bay Regional Park District map, Tolman Peak was just south of the South Fork Trail near the bench, but I could not find the circular peak marker that you normally find at the peaks.  According to our Garmin GPS the peak was north of the bench near some rock formations, either way we were at the top and we enjoyed our views of the Bay.

Even if it's a warm day down below in suburbia-land, going up on the East Bay Hills always allows for the direct chilly ocean wind cut right through us.  I always think that we won't need our jackets but a few minutes on top of Tolman Peak led to wearing every piece of clothing in our packs!  After we all bundled up we all hiked down on South Fork Trail, which was a single track trail and somewhat steep in sections.

We tried to hurry back to the car since I was cold and couldn't warm up! My daughter decided that she wanted to hike at her own pace so it took a little longer than we hoped but I'm always happy when she hikes because she doesn't hike long distances like her brother. We were hungry and only packed snacks since we planned on eating out afterwards, but we were all running low on energy and needed to finish.  Promises of treats, finding more ladybugs moved everyone along and we finally finished our lovely family peak bagging at Tolman Peak.

Side Note:  The great thing about hiking with kids is that everything slows down and you get to enjoy the small beauties of nature.  The San Francisco Bay Area never gets real "Winter" weather other than rain and with due to drought conditions in California our East Bay hills have been terribly dry.  Even with the tiny bit of rain we have received recently the hills been showing signs of Spring.

Trip Report: Garin Dry Creek Regional Park 

Who: Family - Two Adults and two toddlers
Mileage: 5.3 miles (From the Mission Blvd)
Time: 4 hours - Toddlers partially carried
Elevation Change: Approx 1,000 ft 
Family Friendly: Moderate

Trail Directions (Lollipop): From May Rd Entrance Parking Lot - May Trail 0.12 Miles - Slight right onto High Ridge Loop 0.32 miles - At the 2nd fork continue straight to Tolman Peak Trail 0.88 miles - At the Fork take a left (counter clockwise) continue on Tolman Peak Trail for another 0.82 miles - Right onto South Fork Trail for 1.29 miles and continue back Tolman Peak, High Ridge Loop and May Trail to parking lot.

I love my urban outdoor parks! What's your go to park whether urban or not?

Related Posts and Links:

  1. Implosion Hike...What's Not to Like?!
  2. A Chilly Hike at Garin Regional Park
  3. New Year's Day Hike: Garin Dry Creek
  4. Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's FacebookInstagram and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Family Hiking Adventure Completed: 2013 Trails Challenge

In the beginning of 2013, I signed up for the Trails Challenge through Regional Parks FoundationEast Bay Regional Park District, (EBRPD) and Kaiser Permanente.  Its a program to promote "Healthy Parks, Healthy People" for Bay Area Residents to explore the parks as well as promoting healthy living!  Each year the program comes out with a list of specific trails in parks that must be completed: Five of the listed trails or 26.2 miles (marathon) of trails.  We completed the challenge by hiking but the challenge can also be completed by biking the trails.

Last year I was unable to complete the challenge due to travel and illness but this year not only did I complete the five trails but we did it as a family, hiked over 26.2 miles in East Bay Parks!  We also had a lot of fun exploring my local East Bay parks.  Here's a little overview of all the parks we visited this year!

Mileage: 2.5 Miles
Memorable Fact: This was my FIRST time hiking solo with my two toddlers.

Mileage: 5.2 miles
Memorable Fact: Never seen the hills so green.

Mileage: 3.4 miles
Memorable Fact: We hiked very close to cows!

Mileage: 7.1 miles
Memorable Fact: Accidentally hiked in the dark, heard coyotes and it's the HARDEST hike I've done in the East Bay hills.

Mileage: 3.1 miles
Memorable Fact: The Four "Famous" Trails Intersection are on this hike.

Miles: 2.6 miles
Memorable Fact: The longest 2.6 miles we hiked with our toddlers, great views of the SF Bay.

Miles: 2.5 Miles
Memorable Fact: First time hiking along the quarry.

The Trails Challenge is a great way to explore East Bay parks, stay healthy, a great way to get motivated to get outdoors.  Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is a very urban environment but we definitely get outdoors in our surroundings.  National and State Parks are great but local parks are my go to places almost on a daily basis.  Can't wait for 2014 Trails Challenge!

Do you have a favorite local East Bay Regional Park? For those not in the East Bay, what is your favorite local park?

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's Facebook and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Family Fun at Keller Beach - Point Richmond

Keller Beach is a small beach within the boundaries of Miller Knox Regional Shoreline in Point Richmond.  Over the summer, we headed over to Keller Beach so our kids could splash around in the Bay, after we finished hiking in the hills of Miller Knox as part of one of our 2013 Trails Challenge hikes.

I wasn't expecting TOO much from a a San Francisco Bay beach but I was pleasantly surprised with Keller Beach.  It was a small beach which reminded me a "White Sands" beach that we visited on the Big Island, Hawaii so immediately it brought back memories of our family trip to Hawaii.

I read some reviews on Keller Beach prior to going and visited the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) website to read about swimming in this section of the San Francisco Bay.  Certain sections of the SF Bay are not safe to swim in because of the high levels of bacteria.  Keller Beach is close to the ocean inlet so its more "ocean" water than "bay" water like in the south bay but the EBRPD regularly tests water at Keller Beach.

During our visit the water was safe to swim and when we arrived  people were splashing and swimming in the calm cold bay.  Our children are not really "water babies" but the love the idea of  "swimming" near the water.  They just really like to play in the mud, wet sand, sand dunes etc.  So they spent the rest of the afternoon running away from the waves, getting their feet wet and through mud into the air!

We arrived on a gorgeous, perfect Bay Area weather day....not too hot, not too cold but I can imagine how chilly it would get there when the infamous San Francisco Bay fog rolls in.  The beach must get also very stormy when we get a bad weather storm comes in.

Mount Tamalpais and the San Rafael Bridge

Keller Beach has restrooms, showers and picnic tables, no-fee beach and has FANTASTIC views of Mount Tamalpais, San Rafael Bridge and the rest of the Bay.  Some reviews I read had complaints of "too much" seaweed and how the neighboring residents should clean up the seaweed....apparently these people have never gone to a beach.

Keller Beach is a great place to dip you toes or swim (if you want) on the Bay, especially after a hiking at Miller Knox Regional Park.  Once again an urban EBRPD park has changed my point of view of the urban outdoors.

Do you know of any urban outdoor areas that have surprised you?

Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment here! You can also join in on the conversations on Chasqui Mom's Facebook and Twitter that is updated daily with outdoor activities and other wonderful posts and links from #OutdoorFamilies!

Related Posts and Links:

  1. Family Urban Hiking at Miller Knox Regional Shoreline
  2. Keller Beach | Miller Knox Regional Shoreline - East Bay Regional Park District

Hiking Along Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area

Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area is a local East Bay Park located in Fremont, California.  In all my years of living near by we have never visited this park!  I've seen it hundreds of times, driving by it and seeing it from above on BART (the train) but once again the 2013 Trails Challenge brought us to a nice little park.  If you would like to read about our other 2013 Trails Challenge hikes please click here!

Quarry Lakes is a very family friend recreation area, activities including hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, picnicking, boating, dog walking as well as hosting many organized walks and running events!  Quarry Lakes is located near the Niles District near the border of Fremont and Union City surrounded by a residential area, there is a $5 parking fee.

Our 2.5 mile hike started on Old Creek Trail (about 1 mile) near the Boat Launch parking lot, the trail is just a gravel path wide enough for bikes, walkers and hikers.  There are lots of benches around the lakes to take breaks!  As parents we've recently decided that our son will no longer be carry on our hikes since he's weighing 40 lbs or more and our backs can't take it anymore, so our hikes have significantly been shorten and have very little elevation.  Long story short Quarry Lakes is a great place to for my son to hike!

Along Old Creek Trail we saw Canadian Geese!

We skipped rocks!

And most importantly played in the dirt! My Dirt Angel Girl!

We made it to the Western Pacific Trail which follows the BART Tracks....my son got excited and screamed with glee every time a train passed by!  We saw a little lizards and lots of vultures flying above.  It was a great easy hike to stretch our legs, complete another 2013 Trails Challenge hike and get outdoors!!

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Chasqui Mom's 2013 Trails Challenge Hikes
  2. Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area - East Bay Regional Park District
  3. Regional Parks Foundation - 2013 Trails Challenge

Implosion Hike...What's Not to Like?!

Saturday, August 17, 2013 was the last day Warren Hall stood at California State University East Bay (CSUEB) in the Hayward Hills.  As a 2004 CSUEB graduate (formerly known as Cal State Hayward), I wanted to see where I had many computer, accounting, french classes and the building where I paid thousands of dollars go down into the ground.

Photo Courtesy of +Paul McWilliams of Not a Moment to Lose
We decided to hike out to the hills south of Warren Hall at Garin Dry Creek Regional Park, a short 1.5 mile hike to where we wanted to set up.  The implosion was schedule for 9:00 a.m. so we woke up early, got the kids ready and headed out to Garin Dry Creek at 20 minute drive.  Garin Dry Creek is a very family friendly park for hikers, so far in the past year we have visited this park five times with our toddlers!

Our toddlers were terribly cranky that morning and everything was a struggle...getting out the door to hiking this very easy hike.  My three year old son has done more difficult hikes than this 1.5 mile hike but he was just not a happy hiker that morning.  My daughter also wanted in and out privileges from her carrier and she was not happy that we did not grant her those privileges.  I was a little worried that we were going to miss the implosion because we only had one hour to make this 1.5 mile hike.  I know that sounds ridiculously slow but if you have ever hiked with toddlers one mile an hour is usually a normal pace.

All the hikers, mountain bikers and photographers that we encountered on the trail had the same idea to go up on the hills behind Warren Hall so there was a steady flow of people around us.  We started our hike on Old Homestead Trail (0.25 miles) to Peak Loop Trail (0.8 mile).  As we arrived to the intersection of Peak Loop and Vista Peak, we saw all the spectators on the hills ready with their camera and I saw top floors of Warren Hall.  As we turned up a slight hill we heard the implosions go off and down came Warren Hall...I was a little irritated that we weren't situated to take pictures but I did see the building go down with my own eyes.

Thankfully, I had a Google+ friend +Paul McWilliams who was stationed down at a parking lot on Mission Blvd and he was able to take the moving picture above.  My kids were a little scared when they heard the implosion but they soon calmed down and made it up the hill so we could see the smoke disappear.  We talked to other bystanders, saw a rancher and his daughter ride by us on a horse and once everyone had left we decided to get closer to see the wreckage.

We continued back on Peak Loop Trail for another 0.44 miles when we realized that the hill in the distance were we saw a lot of spectators was actually not in Garin Dry Creek but on CSUEB property.  It seemed like it was an impromptu trail and we thought about crossing the little valley to get to it but decided against it.  We weren't planning on doing an actual hike but we ended up hiking in a new section of Garin Dry Creek that we've never been too, Ziele Creek Trail!

Beautifully Red Poison Oak ~ Ziele Creek Trail
I don't know how many times I can say this, but Garin Dry Creek is a very family/toddler friendly park difficulty wise, except for all the poison oak around the shaded Ziele Creek area.  If your child understands what poison oak is then great, but my son does not under completely understand what it is.  He's starting to understand not to touch it because it can hurt him.  He actually grabbed a whole branch but didn't get a rash. On the other hand, my husband who barely brushed some poison oak had to deal with rashes for almost two weeks.

We actually got a little turned around as well as some other hikers across the creek due to the fallen leaves on the trail which made it disappear...technically we weren't lost but I can see how easily you can lose the trail.  I guided the hikers across the creek to the trail and then we found the actual trail which was a little bit above us on the hill.  Back on the trail we continued trucking along Ziele Creek Trail and eventually found a dead deer carcass in the semi dried up creek.

In our first hike at Garin Dry Creek, we saw a large buck in the distance and I've heard of mountain lion sightings at Garin Dry Creek, so I know there is lots of animal activity in this park surrounded by urbanization.  All along Ziele Creek we found animal bones (well I hope it was animal bones) so it was quite surprising to find a whole small deer carcass that looked almost like it recently was alive, that nature for you.

We eventually emerged from the shady Ziele Creek Trail (1.13 miles) and headed on a familiar trails, Peak Loop and Old Homestead Trail for another mile or so.  My son hiked the entire 4.4 mile trek and my daughter was carried so we actually hiked much faster than we normally do.  My son can hike about five miles when there's hardly any elevation change but my daughter is not so much a hiker yet.  She's a lover of dirt, the first step of becoming a hiker!

Trip Report: Garin Dry Creek Regional Park

Who: Family - Two Adults and two toddlers
Mileage: 4.4 miles
Elevation Change: 1,031 ft
Family Friendly: Moderate

An implosion hike was a great way to see Warren Hall go down and spend our Saturday morning with our kids.  Just for fun here's a close up NBC's video of Warren Hall's last stand!  Thanks for the memories Warren Hall and for giving us one more family memory to add to our list!

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Not a Moment to Lose - Paul McWilliams
  2. Garin Dry Creek Regional Park
  3. A Chilly Hike at Garin Regional Park
  4. New Year's Day Hike: Garin Dry Creek
  5. WATCH: Cal State East Bay's Warren Hall Imploded
  6. California State University East Bay, Hayward
  7. East Bay Regional Park District - Garin Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park

Family Urban Hiking at Miller Knox Regional Shoreline

I love exploring the not-known and underdog parks of the Bay Area.  A couple weeks after we had recovered from our last backpacking trip in early July we decided to go on an local hike.  I had already completed the five required trails the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) lists in the 2013 Trails Challenge but my husband needed one more to complete the challenge, so we headed out to Miller Knox Regional Shoreline in Richmond.

Old Country Road to West Ridge Trail
When I think of Richmond lots of negativity pops up in my mind, gangs, shootings, high murder rates so when the EBRPD listed this hike of course I was very interested because I didn't even know there was a shoreline park in Richmond and second of all after reviewing Miller/Knox's website I saw that it had a beach! Just because a place has a bad reputation don't be scared to go exploring and in this case urban hiking!

Urban hiking might mean different things to people but to me it means exploring parks in the immediate urban area, such as the San Francisco Bay Area as well as "hiking" in large cities like San Francisco!  You can definitely get some good hikes and elevation change with the hills in San Francisco!!

Driving to Miller/Knox was a little different because as soon as we got off the freeway it was very industrial, followed by million dollar homes, boats on the Marina and then a pond/playground park at Miller/Knox.

The hike began at Old Country Road Trail with an immediate somewhat steep climb (20%).  We had decided after our last backpacking trip that my son's time of being carried in a carrier had ended, so we were going to choose easier hikes, but somehow we keep ending up picking "steep" hikes. Oh well, my little three year old boy is a crazy good hiker for his age.  This section was very tiny and my daughter was also very determined to hike so we let her slowly climb the "mountain".

The views going up Old Country Road were fantastic.  It was still a little foggy around the coast but we could see the tops of Golden Gate Bridge, city views of San Francisco, Angel Island, Mount Tamalpais, San Rafael Bridge and the actual Bay was looking great that day.  Hiking by the Bay is a little tricky because the weather is so finicky, when the wind is blocked it gets rather warm, then it's very cold and breezy, then the fog could roll back in at any moment.  So even if it's a sunny day I always dress in layers, bring sweaters and jackets when hiking along the Bay.

The Pond at Miller Knox
Mount Tamalapais

Can you see the tops of Golden Gate Bridge?
We made it to the top of the first hill and took a little break and enjoyed views of the marina below us.  My son climbed the only tree at the top of the hill while my daughter played in the dirt and my husband decided to Zillow the houses in the marina, quite expensive I might say.  There were apartments, townhouses and single family homes in this tiny marina.

We had seen the hill we were going to come down when we first started the hike and I had wished we had brought our hiking poles but we hadn't.  At the steepest point it was a 42% grade (down hill) hike and our kids were determined to hike it themselves, so while my husband and son made it down pretty quick I spent my time trying to help my daughter to not slide down hill.  I am notorious with falling down on the trail, even when I'm just standing still, I know it's ridiculous.

West Ridge Trail (left) Old Country Road (right)

At this point, I know why the EBRPD categorized this hike as moderate due to all of its hills.  I read a little later that this used to the a Richmond Rambler Motorcycles trails, which makes sense with all the hills.  Now it's open to hikers (w/dogs), equestrian riders and mountain bicycles on specific trails.  We huffed it up to the second hill, called False Gun with even more great views of the Bay but didn't stay too long because the wind was almost knocking us over!

I love dirt!
Heading up to False Gun
We left False Gun and headed on to a "hiker only" trail called Crest Trail. We had a little confusion there because there was fence blocking an obvious trail that had the "Restoring Land" sign and hikers hiking on the forbidden land.  We didn't go over the fence...headed on the correct trail that had a switch back that took us back to where we thought we were going to in the first place the radio towers.

Crest Trail to Radio Towers
It was much less windy once we came off the ridge so we were able to warm up, but once we started up to the radio towers again the wind picked up with a furry!  My son is a great hiker but if temperature is a little to warm or he's a little out of sorts then he will drag his feet.. The second he saw the radio towers, he yelled "Mommy let's go see the spaceship!!".  Sure enough that helped him get to the top.

It's a Spaceship!!
It was almost all down hill after the radio towers so my son got into his hiking groove and my daughter fell asleep in my ERGO carrier.  With all that cool wind blowing in her face she had no other choice than to fall asleep! It was a really gentle down slope on Marina View Trail, behind a large water tower all the way down to the old Richmond Ramblers Motorcycle building off of Dornan Grove Trail.  Dornan Grove Trail ends on Dornan Dr (paved street).  We continued hiking on the street for a few minutes before getting back on Old Country Road (trail) again.

Chasqui Mom
Richmond Ramblers Motorcycler
There were small sections through the hike where we found blackberries, but once we got back onto Old Country Road, we were surrounded by a forest of blackberry bushes!

Didn't you know Batman also hikes?!
Blackberry Forest!!!

It was a quick easy up hill again towards the Old Country Road spur we started on and soon we were off to explore Keller Beach, which will be coming soon!

I'm sure glad that we decided to do a family hike in this urban park.  Miller/Knox is just another reminder that you really don't have to drive far our of the urban environment to enjoy the outdoors.  Have you found treasure parks like Miller Knox Regional Park in your urban world?  What did you like the most about your urban hike? Please leave your comments below!

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Bears, Waterfalls and Decisions at Hetch Hetchy
  2. Miller Knox Regional Shoreline - East Bay Regional Park District
  3. Tilden Regional Park - 2013 Trails Challenge Completed!
  4. Wordless Cooley Landing, East Palo Alto

Tilden Regional Park - 2013 Trails Challenge Completed!

This is my second year participating in the Trails Challenge by the East Bay Regional Parks District.  Last year I did not complete the 2012 Trails Challenge because of impeding travel and sickness, so this year I'm making sure not only to complete the minimum five trails required but I'm going for the Marathon Challenge, completing 26.2 miles of listed trails by the EBRPD, of course with my toddlers in tow.

Last week, I was able to enjoy a beautiful weekday hike with my children and my two friends, Lorena and Lucy at Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley, CA.  If I hike during the week, I pick easy flat short trails because I'm usually alone with my children but since I was going to two other adults I thought this hike would be more adventurous.

This hike started at Inspiration Point, which looked over the golden East Bay hills.

Inspiration Point, Tilden Regional Park

I thought there would be a giant sign screaming "Inspiration Point", but there was a small information board which I couldn't read because my kids were trying to run into the parking lot so I asked a someone if we were at Inspiration Point and he said, "Of course! That's why you're inspired!" and smiled.  He probably saw my frantic attempts to stop my kids from running in to the parking lot...

We located the information kiosks and retrieved our park maps and headed to the trail-head which started on Nimitz Way.  Within two minutes of our hike, my son started crying for his flashlight which was in the car.  Thankfully, Lorena and Lucy watched the kids while I ran back to the car to get David's precious flashlight.  During my little jaunt back to the car I had my "revelation" of the Toddler Hiking Cycle, check it out when you have a chance.

We really didn't hike on Nimitz Way, since it's a paved bike trail but we had to go through it to reach Curran Trail where our hike actually began.  It was a quick descent on Curran Trail for 0.13 miles before we took a quick right on Meadow Canyon Trail for 1.43 miles.  I didn't know that the intersection of the Four "Famous" Trails was actually at the Curran/Meadow Canyon Trail intersection, but we will get there soon enough.

Meadows Canyon Trail

Meadow Canyon Trail was mostly exposed slight downhill trail, with patches of shaded areas.  It was the perfect down hill trail that helped my toddlers hike most of the way.  I was considering bringing my double jogging stroller but I was not sure the trail would be wide enough or the terrain would be to rough for a stroller.  I brought my Deuter Kid Carrier 1 to carry my 21 month daughter and hoped my three year old son would hike most of the way.  I don't like hiking with our stroller but take it when I'm by myself with the kids.

Meadows Canyon Trail - My son is wearing my hat....
My son was still feeling a little run down from a cold and was complaining a little bit to be carried.  Lucy was kind enough to give my son a piggy back ride to the halfway point which was only 10 minutes away.  I know my son had it in him to keep walking but he was already on the "edge" after the earlier "almost" meltdown.  Once we reached the halfway point at the intersection of Meadows Canyon and Wildcat Gorge Trail a.k.a Lone Oak Picnic Area, we all had snacks and took a break.  There was a water fountain, toilet pit restrooms, picnic tables and benches at Lone Oak.

The kids ate Lorena's snacks!
There was even a water bowl for dogs at the water fountain, a very dog friendly park.  Throughout our entire hike, there were lots and lots of dogs.  Some were hiking their owners but the majority were dog packs with professional dog walkers.  My daughter was thrilled to see so many dogs at Tilden, this is a girl who played with street dogs in Mexico since she was nine months old, true story.  On the other hand, my son was NOT thrilled with the amount of dogs.  He's terrified of any dog that is not our two Shih Tzu's, even if they are tiny.  We had to pick my son up or block him from the dogs when we encountered them on the trail which also did not encourage him to hike.

My friends (who do not have children) got to experience a full on meltdown courtesy of my daughter when she did not want to leave the water fountain at Lone Oak.  My daughter threw her hissy fit and got over it within five minutes of being in the carrier.  While my daughter screamed, we started our hike on Wildcat Gorge Trail (0.78 miles) and we were quickly in a little field with hundreds of blue dragonflies.  I had never seen so many before in my life and my daughter had forgotten about the water fountain and enjoyed the dragonflies as well.

Dragonfly Field!
Wildcat Gorge Trail followed a creek that is designated a resource protection area for Rainbow Trout and California Newts, sadly we did not see any.  Wildcat Gorge was a very beautiful "green" trail which reminded me of our backpacking trip to Point Reyes National Seashore. The slight ascent up Wildcat Gorge was mostly shaded and easy enough for my daughter and son, it also had railings to protect the creek from dogs and people.  My daughter eventually was out of my carrier and tried to climb over the railing to the creek but of course I never let her succeed.

The creek!
Creek from Lake Anza
We took another break at the intersection of Wildcat Gorge and Curran Trail.  My kids happily threw rocks and of course my son was eventually splashing in the water getting all wet.  We only had 0.75 miles left to hike on Curran Trail, so I didn't mind if he got a little wet.  We debated whether going on to Lake Anza but I didn't know if I could handle another meltdown at Lake Anza knowing that my daughter would have a meltdown leaving the creek.  We opted not to go (next time...) and headed up Curran Trail.  My daughter had a longer hissy fit this time but eventually calmed down and fell asleep.

This section of Curran Trail was very shaded with Eucalyptus trees that made cracking sounds all the time, so I was a little paranoid about the branches breaking off since I've been warned by EBRPD rangers before.  My son was Lucy's hiking partner most of the trip and I with my daughter and Lorena.  We had good conversations and Lorena told me that Tilden's landscape reminded her of her country's landscape, El Salvador. It made me happy and sad that I could show her a little bit of her "home" country here in the Bay Area.

Somewhere on Curran Trail
The nice thing about hiking with friends vs. hiking alone, is that I get to show up in the pictures!  My son was struggling by this point and he needed his mommy, so we switched hiking partners and my little boy hiked with me.  I will take it until the day he doesn't want to hang out with mommy.  All throughout the day there was poison oak along the trail but this section of Curran Trail had an absurd amount of poison oak, so I held my son's hand so he wouldn't jump in it!

Tilden "El Salvador" Regional Park
We arrived at the Four "Famous" Trails intersection again and this time I knew we were there.  This is where the American Discovery TrailBay Area Ridge TrailMokelumne Coast to Crest Trail and the East Bay Skyline National Trail intersect.  I spent a few moments explaining to Lorena about the trails and we were both excited to take pictures at the trail marker.  I was so excited I slipped and fell down with my daughter in my carrier! My daughter did not even wake up with my tumble but I did give Lorena a scare!

Four "Famous" Trails

Before the fall!

Lucy did me the favor again and gave my son a piggy back ride for the last 10 minutes back to the parking lot.  We did a few more photo shots of the view at Inspiration Point before we headed home.  I think I need approximately two more short hikes or one longer hike to reach the Marathoner Challenge but Tilden Regional Park was my 5th park on the Trail Challenge list so my challenge is complete!


The trail loop is listed at 3.1 miles, but as always with extra running around with the kids we made it a 4.0 mile hike, in almost 4 hours or average 1.0 mph.

Elevation change of about 500 ft over 4 miles.

Inspiration Point - Nimitz- Curran - Meadows Canyon - Wildcat Gorge - Curran Trail

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Adventures at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

Last week we decided to do an afternoon hike at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness, in San Ramon.  We started hiking later than we usually do about 4 p.m. but we thought we had a good 3 hours of sunlight left, so we started my fourth  2013 Trails Challenge hike from the East Bay Regional Park District.

Note: All my pictures are from my iPhone, because my son decided to jump off the chairs at church with my camera in hand, land on it and break it...

We parked just outside the park's gate near Little Hills Picnic Ranch just in case if the parks gates were actually closed at 7 p.m. as the gate sign said.  After the eternity of packing everything and making sure everyone was dressed appropriately we started our 6.0 mile hike on Elderberry Trail and headed uphill towards the ridge.

Hiking up Elderberry Trail 

It was quite a warm day but there was perfect amount of sun, shade and wind that I never felt too hot.  Our three year old son, David has had a mental block about hiking since we last hiked at Pinnacles National Park and only wanted to be carried on daddy's ( +Jesse Avery) shoulders.  My son can hike between 3-4 miles, that's how much energy my boy has and it's one of our main reasons why we continue hiking with our little ones.  So we decided to just encourage him to hike and after about 15 minutes of complaining he got over it and we had our little hiker back.

Elderberry Trail to Rocky Ridge Trail was 1.81 miles from outside the park parking lot, mostly up hill with some flat areas.  There were still an abundant of wildflowers in Las Trampas.  There were a lot of these purple flowered bushes as well as many California Poppies not to mentioned that the hills were still very green.

I also found Western Fence Lizard that allowed me to get a close up picture with my iPhone.  My daughter was fascinated with it.

Western Fence Lizard
We even encountered a flowing creek, where my children splashed in the water and threw little rocks in it.  One of the joys that my children have during hiking is finding a water source.  With a little bit of candy, chocolate and distraction David and Sophia hiked quite a bit up to Rocky Ridge View Trail.  An older hiking couple and I heard the woman say, "Now that's a hiker!".  I don't know if that was said about myself or my son but I thought it was a nice compliment.

The view from Rocky Ridge View Trail was amazing!

I could see as far past Mission Peak in Fremont, out past the Golden Gate Bridge as well as Mount Tamalpais and Mount Diablo.  I always feel like the Bay Area is really crowded with all its suburbs but there were miles and miles of empty rolling mountains that I could see from Rocky Ridge View Trail.  Another reason why I love the Bay Area, there is wilderness around us.  

We had a little break at the top and decided to carry the kids the rest of Rocky Ridge View Trail (0.38 miles) down Devil's Hole Trail because the couple who had just passed me told Jesse they had seen a few Rattlesnakes on the trail.  Sophia hadn't napped all day and David was already a little stressed because of group of young guys with a pack of four pit bulls all not on their leashes was near us. So I put Sophia in my Ergo carrier and David rode Jesse's shoulders. We eventually passed the pack of pit bulls and their owners and headed down Devil's Hole Trail for 1.3 miles.  This was a the beginning of Devil's Hole Trail, I wondered why it was called that...I was soon to find out.

Devils Hole started fairly easy until we started going downhill.  I think I left my hiking pole last month at Henry Coe State Park Visitor Center, so I didn't have any hiking poles for support.  Normally, I'm fine hiking without poles but I feel really off balance with my pack and my sleeping daughter in the front.  Secondly, I recently sprained my wrist when I took a tumble at Pinnacles National Park so I was nervous about falling down because it still hurts.  +Jesse Avery and I hiked down very slowly on this very steep hill.

A flat part of Devil's Hole Trail, rare!
The were some large switchbacks for a while followed by a small portion of the trail that was flat (pictured above).  Along the way the normal grassy green hills turned into wooded areas, back to open areas which was nice because I love changing scenery.  The trail became very steep after the flat section so I stopped taking pictures to no fall over.  My toes were hurting from the steepness, weight of my pack and my toddler so I went extremely slow.  I hiked so slowly that I was about 20 minutes behind my husband.

We always wait for each other at a trail marker so I knew we would meet up again, but during those 20 minutes alone I figured about why Las Trampas is a wilderness! Turkeys gobbled all around me, deer tracks could be seen all over the trail, furry "poop" was all over the trails...evidence of coyotes.  I even heard coyotes nearby hiking down Devil's Hole Trail but didn't realize it until hours later.  I heard some hooting/howling and thought to myself that the pit bull pack and their owners where nearby but they never should up.  Also I had a sensation that some animal was nearby I just assumed it was the pit bulls, I guess it was my inner cave woman in me!

Jesse was waiting for me at the bottom of Devil's Hole Trail and my David was awake from taking a nap on Jesse's head/shoulders.  Poor Jesse, his shoulders hurt for the next couple of days! My legs were very shaky when I reached the bottom from coming down a steep hill.  I wasn't tired but my legs were so shaky, so I had some snacks, water and some Gatorade.  Devil's Hole was loud! More turkeys gobbled all around us, the babbling creek and there was even a crazy loud bird fight near by!

Sophia woke up but was still very sleepy and stayed in my carrier.  Coming down Devil's Hole, we saw the trail that we had to take back up that seem terribly steep, so they whole way down I was mentally preparing myself for the 1.26 mile of hike up on Sycamore Trail.  Jesse said, "You saw the trail?" I nodded and we just looked at each other like we have on many trails knowing that we were going to get our butts kicked.

Sycamore Trail started flat and then crossed a creek.  There was lots of poison oak around the trail so David was still being carried since he loves to touch everything.  We got to a portion of the trail that I wish I had a machete because the bushes were so overgrown.  Once again the landscape changed again and it almost looked "desert-ish", short bushes and lots of sage or what at least smelled like sage.  At some point we saw that we were not going on the trail we saw from Devil's Hole Trail but an even STEEPER one.  The one we saw looked flat compared to Sycamore Trail! The trail had pieces of wood nailed into the trail for steps....

My son was so energetic at this point that he was crawling up the rocky trail and yelled, "Look mommy, I'm hiking, I'm rock climbing!!" I'm glad he was so energetic because that allowed my husband to carry Sophia.  She wanted to hike but the trail was to steep for my 18 month old.  My son hiked/climbed the entire Sycamore trail, I was very impressed with my three year old hiking skills!

Sycamore Trail View
We only had about 45 minutes left of sunset and still had a couple of miles so we tried to hustle but as anyone know who has toddlers that's nearly impossible.  Sophia desperately wanted to walk and we were hiking at a snails pace.  I inadvertently scared her into being carried by Jesse because I yelled out to Jesse, "Do you hear the owl's?!" and she let out a scream and yelled "Big Owls!!" and cried for daddy, the protector.

My son was a little tired by now and we still had a multitude of switchbacks to hike, so we played a game to make Sophia feel safe and to keep David hiking.  David and I were lions and roared all along the trail to scare the owls away.  We finally reached the "top" and found some really cool rock formations which we couldn't enjoy because it was getting dark and Sophia was in need of a diaper change.  I noticed all this perfectly sculpted holes in the rocks and asked Jesse if he thought those were man-made.  Later I read that the wind created those holes and I never noticed it but apparently there was a wind cave on Devil's Hole Trail.  I was too paranoid about falling down Devil's Hole Trail that I didn't even notice the wind cave. Sadness.

It was actually very dark by now and getting very chilly and windy, so we bundled up the kids loaded them up and off we went to hike by moonlight.  Thankfully there was a half moon out so we had quite of bit of moonlight out.  I brought a flashlight but when we turned it on the batteries were dead of course! I don't know what time we made it to Rocky Ridge View Trail but all I remember was hearing a pack of coyotes howling nearby and realizing, "hmm there are animals out there...."  It was still almost 2 miles back to the parking lot but I could see the parking lot so that was very relieving.

My toes were killing me by this point and I really wish I had my hiking poles but thankfully my daughter had semi-fallen asleep so at least I didn't have a cranky baby.  We heard another pack of coyotes even closer this time, so my husband turned on music on his phone so my daughter could stay calm and to scare any coyotes away.  I was never really scared until we got wooded area and the moonlight could not shine through the branches.  I felt an animal presence to my right and heard it rustling in the bushes, whether it was a rabbit, deer or a coyote it really freaked me out so I got closer to my husband and held onto his arm.

After what seemed like an eternity we finally made it to the car and the kids wanted to eat McDonald's and we happily agreed.  Not our favorite food to eat after hiking but I just wanted to make my kids happy because they were scared.  


The Trails Challenge listed this hike as 6.0 miles but for some reason we made it 1 mile longer!

Elderberry Trail - Rocky Ridge View Trail - Devil's Hole Trail - Sycamore Trail - Rock Ridge View Trail

Elevation Change.  That center part is Devil's Hole....

You can also see our hike on my Strava Link http://app.strava.com/activities/49644557

Lessons Learned:
  1. I need to get new hiking poles, ASAP!
  2. Read the description of trail (which I normally do) beforehand.
  3. This hike was probably not a toddler-friendly hike.
  4. To always follow my normal rules of bringing extra clothes and food, which I did.
  5. My daughter is scared of owls....
2013 Trails Challenge hike #4 is completed!

A Chilly Hike at Garin Regional Park

February 18, 2013: We were aiming to hike at Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, but I was still a little bit under the weather and our kids decided to give us a rough night of sleep, so we decided to do a shorter less strenuous hike Garin Regional Park's, Ukraina Loop in Hayward.  This was my second 2013 Trails Challenge hike and +Jesse Avery first on the challenge list.  To add to the fun, we also decided to take our two Shih Tzu's dogs, Rocky and Apollo.

This is a separate part of Garin Regional Park that is not connected to Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park, there are no trails connecting the parks.  The East Bay Regional Parks District website does not have this section of the park listed on the map either, but this section of the park is listed on the Trails Challenge.

The dirt fire road is still called Carden Lane and its just a slight uphill not too difficult for my toddlers.  This is how my family hikes, toddlers playing in the dirt rocks, throwing rocks down a hill and lots of standing around sometimes.  It took us a long time to get to the actual Ukraina Loop but I'm starting to get used hiking VERY slow.  This hike was even slower than normal since our kids were slightly cranky from not sleeping well the night before.  There was lots of trickery and chocolate bribing to get my kids up the hill.

As we hiked to the top of the hill, I saw some sheep off in the distance and kept on pointing it out to +Jesse Avery  and he just couldn't see them. A little while later I realized that the "sheeps" I was looking at were rocks.  I think I need to get my eyes checked again, we had a good laugh.  It was a very cloudy, windy chilly day and we had only brought the kids jackets so Jesse and I were a little cold when we weren't hiking.

It was time for our second break, so we parked next to a grove of eucalyptus trees and had some snacks.  We were finally entering the actual Ukraina Loop near the park residence.  We didn't stay too long here because the park personnel told us the Eucalyptus tree branches had been falling and it was just too cold to not hike.  The kids were warm but Jesse, the dogs and I were not!

Can you say, "Moo?".  I think this is the closest I've ever hiked with cows...I'm a little freaked out by cows but I really try to not be scared when I'm near them.  I remember the Dog Whisperer advice that animals can "sense" how you feel, plus can't you see my ferocious Shih Tzu, Apollo puffing his chest out protecting us?  My daughter was so ecstatic to see so many cows couldn't stop saying "moo" and "mas, mas!!" (Spanish for more).

I thought this was a very interesting "scary" looking tree.

Mommy and daughter hikers, Sophia really loves being held by me in particular.  My son could never sit still and Sophia loves to hike but doesn't have the energy like her brother so she's carried a lot.  Hiking at the top of Ukraina Loop was very nice, flat with view of the rolling hills and the entire Bay Area.  I could see the fields of yellow wild flowers miles away near Coyote Hills in Fremont, it was quite beautiful.  Sophia fell asleep  before we reached California Historic Landmark No. 1025, aka the burial site of Ukrainian patriot and exiled orthodox priest Agapius Honcharenko.

Never hiked to a California State Historical Landmark but I have I conducted a search warrant at one. That's a different story from a previous life...The burial site was a little ways down the path at the base of a giant tree. There were pine cones all along the way to the grave site.  The views of the Bay Area were beautiful and down below you could see the Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park.  We continue hiking on the loop which eventually looped back to where all the cows where and the "scary" tree.

There wasn't anything spectacular about this hike but I really do love hiking in the East Bay hills because of the all the amazing Bay Area views.  Rolling green hills, a California Landmark and spending good quality time with my husband, kids and dogs, I call that a good hike.


3.1 Miles, 2 hours 18 mins, Elevation Change 334 ft.

Ukraina Loop (a little hidden, follow the red arrows)

Happy Hiking!

Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park

A beautiful afternoon hiking with my family is one of my favorite things to do. On this hike we attempted to hike almost seven miles but with a late start and the days still being a little short we hiked 5.2 miles at Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park.  It was an absolutely beautiful day and the hills were beckoning.  We parked at the Foothill Staging Area and successfully transferred my sleeping daughter, Sophia into my front carrier and headed up multiple switch backs on Woodland Trail.  The cows were definitely out and about along the trails.

My son, David was a little terrified of the cows so he climbed up on +Jesse Avery shoulders and so began the sweaty, sweaty uphill hike carrying our toddlers to the ridge.  At some point Sophia woke up and was DELIGHTED to see the cows so close to ups.  Even with her sleepy eyes she fought through her sleep to say, "Mommy, moo, moo!"

A view from the Woodland Trail after completing the switchbacks during our little break.  This was my third and +Jesse Avery second Trails Challenge hike but we were not sure if were could complete all seven miles before sunset.

We finally made it to the Ridgeline Trail and the views were absolutely magnificent.  Mission Peak and Sunol Regional Parks are in the background.  A hiker stopped and thanked us for hiking with our children and not taking them to the mall.  That made me smile and said thank you and told him our children were made for the outdoors.

Sophia REALLY loves dirt, I mean really loves dirt and tutus.

Making dirt angels, she was swimming on the ground.

That's my hiking toddler, loving the dirt and the earth that we came from.

Hiking through the beautfiul Olive Grove on Ridgeline Trail.  I loved the rolling hill type trails, those are my favorites and easiest on my children.  David really liked checking the map to make sure we were on the right path and not lost.  He's wearing daddy's explorer hat that we got in 2009 to our trip to Machu Picchu.  Now my three old son wears it when we hike.

I love this picture at marker #16 on Ridgeline Trail.  David loves running down hills, he loves anything that goes fast so running down a hill is a controlled fun fall.  He looks so free and he face is full of extreme joy when he runs, especially towards one of his favorite people in the world, his dad.  We took a a break at the trail marker and calculated that we weren't going to be able to complete the entire seven mile hike so we decided to head on back on Thermalito Trail after a break.

The kids found a tiny patch of loose dirt and played in the dirt the entire break.  I noticed how quiet it was when the kids stopped making noise for 10 seconds.  It was wonderful.  Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom is difficult and all I want is silence for a few minutes and I got my silence while being surrounded in God's creation and my family.  Those are the moments I cherish.

Daddy and daughter hiking on Thermalito Trail.

It is difficult to hike with children especially toddlers but it truly makes me appreciate the small things, like this lady bug.  My kids love water....creeks, lakes, a puddle you name it.  All along Thermalito Trail there were three muddy ponds and of course we had to stop at each one so the kids can throw rocks in the ponds.  While I was waiting for the kids, I saw this little ladybug and loved how red it was.  Thanks David and Sophia for helping me love the little things.

We continued onto the third pond which was pretty much muddy shallow water with ducks sitting in it.  I'm not completely sure but I think we were on Olive Grove Trail at this point, the kids were getting pretty tired by this point.  I kept distracting David with all the ground squirrels running in the hillside to keep him moving along.  Jesse came across a dead frog in the ground which also motivated David to run down the hill to see it.

The sun was setting off in distance and this was the last picture I took because we had to carry each kid on our shoulders.  Sophia plopped herself in the same dirt angel that she made earlier and I tried to scare her into hiking by hiding from her on the trail but she wasn't scared she just played in the dirt.  A mountain biker saw me hiding and gave me a funny look and I said, "I'm trying to make her hike" and he just smiled.  I loaded Sophia up on my shoulders and Jesse had already hiked down to the gate near trail marker 10 and the boys were waiting for us.

It was a really beautiful hike, serene rolling green hills, not a lot a people around and of course being with my family.

Our GPS Garmin ran out of power before we finished hiking so our hiking stats are a little off.  For a more complete trail you can check out my Strava Link. but we hiked 5.2 miles a 1,000 ft elevation change

Woodland Trail - Ridgeline Trail - Thermalito Trail - Olive Grove Trail - Woodland Trail

Happy Hiking!

2013 Trails Challenge Hike - Coyote Hills

Last weekend we did not have a chance to go hike, so by Monday morning my kids were a little too energetic for this stay-at-home-mom.  I had been contemplating for the past couple of weeks to go hiking alone with my toddlers (three and one year old) because sometimes the children's parks and neighborhood walks are not enough for my kids.

I decided to "bite the bullet" and take my kids, David and Sophia, to Coyote Hills Regional Park and might as well complete my first hike of 2013 Trails Challenge of the East Bay Regional Parks District.  I decided to do one of the hikes marked as "Easy-2.5 miles" since I've never been hiking alone with my kids.  It took me almost all morning to get ready, tummies needed to be filled before we left and as well as preparing lunch for the hike.  One of the many important things, I have learned as a parent is it takes a really long time to leave to go anywhere, so if I can mentally prepare myself for it then preparation time is not stressful.

The drive into Coyote Hills was beautiful, the hills were green, skies were blue and a beautiful field of yellow flowers filled the street that turned down to Coyote Hills entrance.  I wanted to stop and take pictures but Sophia looked a little sleepy and I wanted to start hiking before she fell asleep.  An eternity to pack up to get out of the house also leads to an eternity to get out of the car to start hiking.  I wanted to pick up our Trails Challenge T-Shirts but I did not know that Coyote Hills Visitor Center was closed on Monday's.

We started our hike as listed on the Trails Challenge on Bayview Trail near the Visitors Center, but did the trail in reverse order.  I brought our double jogging stroller just in case the kids got tired but after this hike I will no longer bring it along, my kids are hikers not sitters.

Sophia taking the view of the Main Marsh and Mission Peak in the background.  We hiked along Bayview Trails towards Lizard Rock Trail but on the 0.17 miles there Sophia got cranky, wanted to be carried and David wanted a snack.  I convinced my kids to sit in the stroller with some banana chips, one of their favorite snacks. 

A view of the North Mash and in the very far off distance in the Hayward hills is California State University Hayward, (my alma mater) now CSU East Bay.  There are two Lizard Rock trails one for hikers only and the other for hikers and bikers.  Is a jogging stroller considered a bike? Either way I just followed the tire marks in the trail and took the wider Lizard Rock Trail.

Sometimes I can not believe I'm a mother of these two beautiful kids.  I truly love them so much.  I saw this beautiful big tree on Lizard Rock Trail and and to plop them right in front of it for a picture. The trail was bumpy so the kids really enjoyed all the jostling and it made them down right sleepy.  We headed down towards the Main Marsh again where I found something new that caught my eye. 

Granted this is our second year doing the Trails Challenge but it was nice to see the trail markers marked as part of the trails challenge.  Bright green to catch my eye!

Tried to take a picture of myself with my kids but they can never sit still, so here's a solo one of myself.  The Visitor Center is to the left of the picture with the Main Marsh right behind me.  We made a quick right onto Muskrat Trail where we spent a very long time.  The kids saw the marsh that followed along the D.U.S.T. Trail and both screamed "Me Stuck!! Out!!"  A fellow hiker told me there were large fish in the water and the kids excitement went through the roof.

We sat there near the marsh as Sophia "threw rocks" into the marsh, lets just say the rocks never made it to the water.  That morning David had watched "Go, Diego Go" and watched Diego save a whale, therefore he asked me to see the whales and I told him maybe we could see the Bay (the ocean) and see some animals.  David was determined to see a whale.  The imagination and hope of a three year old is quite refreshing sometimes.

As we sat by the marsh all of a sudden five large fish started splashing just underneath the surface of the water.  The kids didn't know what to make of it and I explained that the fishes were swimming, but a few minutes later one large fish literally jumped out of the water three times in a row right in front of us.  David nearly died of excitement, I've never heard him squeal so much before.  It almost brings tears to my eyes remembering his face and him squealing, "Mommy a BIG fish, it's a whale!!"  Sophia also saw the fish and was more scared than anything else, she needed a big hug.

After the excitement of the "whale" subsided, David wanted to move on but Miss Sophia could sit near the marsh all day long so I convinced to sit in the stroller for five minutes with some cheese sticks.  Down Muskrat Trail towards Chochenyo Trail, where the cotton tail plants were as tall as I am, five feet tall.

There were "fuzzies" floating in the air from the cotton tails and some other flowering plant, which looked like snowflakes drifting.  David comes to the realization that it's "snowing" and Sophia starts babbling, "snow, snow, snow..." Who am I to burst their bubble and agree that it's snowing in 70 degree weather in Fremont.  Mother's love.

Sophia was being silly, she does not have the energy level as our son so she took a break by laying down in the trail, face in the ground on Chochenyo Trail.  Everyone wanted a little break so I decided to break out the good stuff, Trader Joe's Salami, some more cheese, cherry tomatoes and banana chips.

David taking a break and apparently sunning himself on the trail.  After lunch time we made it down to the end of the trail at the far end of this picture above.  Sophia got really cranky by this point so I put her in my baby sling and tried to convinced David to get in the stroller.  It was so obvious that David was really tired but every time I asked if he wanted to sit down he would say, "No, Mommy.  I walk."

This is when I decided that I would no longer take our jogging stroller on hikes.  It was absolutely useless, David sat in it for 10 minutes and Sophia an additional 5 minutes.  The rest of the time they hiked and I really realized that my babies are outdoor kids.  Hence we nickname Sophia "Mountain Baby" last summer after we visited Highland Lakes in Northern California.

Sophia quickly fell asleep in my sling and David and I continued onto Tuibun Trail which turned into Bayview Trail which followed along the Main Marsh.  I didn't bring any chocolate on this hike so I  bribed him to keep hiking with the promise of chocolate when we got home.  It was a very fun hike and more importantly the kids had a blast and burned some energy.


My GPS Garmin had a little difficulty but we were not 250 feet below sea level.  We hike 2.6 miles or an average 1.8 mph in 3 hours.  Hiking with little ones is really slow.

Hardly any elevation change, started at sea level and barely reach 50 ft elevation.

My first "alone" hike with the kids!
Bayview - Lizard Rock - Chochenyo - Muskrat - Chochenyo - Tuibun - Bayview

Happy Hiking!

New Year's Day Hike: Garin Dry Creek

On New Years Day, we wanted to start 2013 the right way with a hike! We met up with our good friend Nate and headed up to Garin Dry Creek Regional Park. Nate had never been there so I'm always excited to introduce people to new places and we were going to explore a part of the park we've never been too.

It was an absolutely beautiful chilly day! It seemed like an eternity to start hiking after we parked. We had to pack everything into the backpacks, jackets, snacks, diapers, wipes, extra clothes etc. That is one thing I have read in multiple books about hiking with children is to always carry jackets, change of clothes and snacks for toddlers. You never want to have a cold, hungry, wet toddler on a hike.

Last time we visited Garin Dry Creek we hiked one of the listed hikes on the 2012 Trails Challenge from the East Park Regional Parks District. This time we wanted to do a "short" hike (anything with toddlers should be short) to Newt Pond Wildlife Area and a small loop around Vista Peak Loop Trail.

We started out slowly walking from the parking lot towards Old Homestead Trail and Arroyo Flats.  My daughter, Sophia, was determined to hike herself, and my son, David, wanted to get in the carrier but we wanted him to hike.  After 15 minutes of trying to get out of the parking lot (there were lots of cute dogs to see) we finally started on Old Homestead Trail.  Right away I noticed the creeks had water and across the creel there was a horse rider with a pony following.  Kind of reminded me that a mom is a mom whether you are a human or a horse! Ha! Made me smile a bit.

Even before we hit the field of cows, we could hear him loud and clear which excited the children of course. By this point my husband, Jesse, was carrying Sophia and David hurried along to see the cows.  We reached the gates were we encountered two horse riders, Sophia screamed gleefully.  David somehow missed to see the horses until they were right in his face which frightened him a little bit.  Then we walked through a field of cows in really close proximity, I'm not a fan.

This is where we went me made a little mistake we should have continued on Old Homestead Trail to reach the actual Newt Pond.  We didn't have a map so we continued on New Pond Trail thinking it would lead to Newt Pond.  I was a  little confused where the trail actually was because everything was green from the recent rain.  I'm so used to seeing the hills golden brown with dry trails.

We had to cross Dry Creek, which wasn't really dry! Jesse and Nate hopped across the creek but I'm not as sure-footed as they are so Jesse threw some stepping stones for me.  It was pretty to see water flowing.

Going up, up, up on Newt Pond Trail. Jesse, followed by David and Nate!

My little hiker!! It was very pretty in the hills.  This uphill hike really took it out of David and a little after this both kids climbed into our carriers.

Jesse carried Sophia and her backpack.  All my hiking literature says that expect to carry anything your kid wants to "carry" themselves.

Oh Newt Pond Trail, you did not lead us to Newt Pond.  There was a very slight uphill to the ridge where I thought Newt Pond was so I kept telling my son and myself that the pond is just over the little hill, but it wasn't. In fact we were on High Ridge Trail and didn't know for a while.  I finally had cell service so I Googled our location and we were way past Newt Pond.  I informed my the rest of the hikers and we had a laugh.

We decided to hike to Meyers Ranch Trail and take a break for lunch there.  It was quite windy and chilly up at the ridge.  We quickly had our "lunch" which consisted of delicious Salami, trail mix, cheese and Goldfish crackers.  Sophia was asleep by this point and David didn't want to get out of his carrier so continued down Meyers Ranch Trail.

This is a view coming down Meyers Ranch Trail, I absolutely love the green rolling hills.  Garin Dry Creek is quickly becoming one of my favorite local places.  The rest of the hike was mostly down hill until we reach Dry Creek Trail which followed the actual Dry Creek which had lots of water and skinny bridges.  My kids really loved the bridges, it was great motivation to get David hiking instead of being in his carrier.  Dry Creek Trail led us back to Jordan Pond and back to the Parking lot.

Hiking Data is as follows....

3.9 Miles in 3 hours 40 minutes, seems so slow but it that's how it is with little ones.

About 1,000 ft in Elevation Change, Jesse likes to secretly pick trails with switchbacks.

Our hiking trails for this hike was: Old Homestead Trail - Newt Pond Trail - High Ridge Loop Trail - Meyers Ranch Trail - Dry Creek Trail for a total of 3.9 Miles.

Defeat, Not Something I Like

I'm a very goal oriented person.  If I have a goal, I'm the most motivated person in the world to complete my task.  If I do not achieve my goal I feel like I was defeated by something, someone or myself.  I will not be able to complete my 2012 Trails Challenge by December 1st, which is this Saturday.  My last day available to complete it was today, but due to my children being sick, a hectic weekend, the rain coming in tomorrow, and upcoming travel I will not be able to complete the challenge. Only 3.5 miles short, it drives me crazy.

Only one other time was I "defeated" while hiking, during my 2007 Inca Trail Peru Trip. I caught the travelers bug right before we started on our five day hike to Machu Picchu. I couldn't keep real food down so the guides made me smell some special liquid, drink some special soup, and another hiker gave me some anti-nausea pills. The following day I felt fine but as anyone who knows who has hiked 10 hours before, food = fuel = energy to hike. I had no energy to hike up a 14,000 ft Salkantay Nevada. My brain said "keep on moving" but my feet just dragged. I was so slow that they had to put me on a mule. I wanted to cry, I wanted to hike that mountain and to this day I still do.

I'm smiling but I'm not happy.

It's not the same kind of defeat, and in all reality it's not really a defeat because I will still finish the Trails Challenge just after the deadline of December 1st. It really pushed us to hike consistently like we've been wanting too and it has exposed us to different East Bay Parks.

Next year I will complete the 2013 Trails Challenge with time to spare just like some day I will go back to Peru and kick Salkantay's butt!

Here are some pictures from each hike of the 2012 Trails Challenge that we did complete:

Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park - Hayward/Union City, CA.  My son David....
Mission Peak Regional Park - Fremont, CA
Dublin Hills Regional Park - Dublin, CA
Hayward Regional Shoreline - Hayward, CA

Have you ever felt defeated in a backpacking trip, day hike, race, outdoor competition or goals you have set for yourself? How did you overcome your "defeat"?  Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Related Posts and Links

  1. The Savage Mountain Nevado Salkantay
  2. Three Days in One: Salkantay to Andenes Camp

Thanksgiving Hikes - Hayward Regional Shoreline

The second hike we did over the Thanksgiving weekend was Hayward Regional Shoreline.  This hike was #4 hike of the 2012 Trails Challenge .  We only have one more hike to go before December 1st.  I hope we can do it!

At the beginning of the hike was a little disappointing, because the view was of dried salt marshes, a landfill and a factory in the background.  The scenery got better as the hike went along.

On flat trails we've decided to take the jogging stroller and let the kids walk, for two reasons. One, they are really heavy and if they see the carriers they want to be carried and not walk.  Two, we want them to start training to actually hike so we can go backpacking next spring and in Argentina in late 2013.  Our son was being silly, tried to catch a ride on the stroller.

San Francisco Skyline is in the background, from Hayward Shoreline.  The shoreline used to harvest salt, but the restored it to its natural state. There were so many birds, flying right above the water like in Jurassic Park.

The tide coming in.  Our son enjoyed throwing rocks off of this bridge into the water.  Our daughter wanted out of the stroller but the bridge railings had big enough gaps that she could fall through, so she stayed strapped in her stroller.

My son, you know he used to be a baby model.

The only bird I could catch on my iPhone, it ducked underwater right before I took this picture or else it would have come out closer to me.  There were so many birds there.  It was very pretty to see.

Hayward Regional Shoreline Sunset.  So pretty!! I haven't downloaded our hiking statistics yet, so that will be coming up soon.  I think we hiked about 5.4 miles.  My husband and I sprinted most of the way back.  I was pushing the stroller and my husband ran with our son on his shoulders.  The kids were a little tired by then, but they enjoyed it thoroughly.

Related Post and Links:
  1. Trails Challenge 2012
  2. Thanksgiving Weekend Hikes - Don Edwards
  3. This Hiking Mama is Thankful For...

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Dublin Hills Regional Park

Hiking yesterday. Nothing big, just a small hike with the family and my good friend Wendy and her baby in tow, at Dublin Hills Regional Park. This hike was No. 3 out of 5 hikes needed to complete the 2012 Trails Challenge from the East Bay Regional Park District. Starting this post with my hiking information first.

Distance: 3.21 Miles    Elevation Gain: 232 Ft (Start 886 ft - Max: 1102 ft)

The staging area (Parking Lot) was fairly brand new with a very "parent friendly" bathroom with diaper changing tables in the bathrooms, very rare to see at the other East Bay Regional Parks.  There were a few picnic tables, a kiosk, everything looked brand new.

After collecting everything we needed we started off on a low grade uphill climb with "switchbacks" to get to the ridge.  My son was fascinated with the drainage run-off that followed the trail.

We hiked along brand new homes, which Jesse tried to Zillow but even Zillow could not find them since they were so new.  It was a cold day, it would get a little warmer when the sun wasn't blocked by the clouds.  The whole hike was on the Calaveras Ridge Regional Trail. Here we are at the "Summit".

We were attempting to make David hike this entire hike and so far we were managing but with some complaining of course.  My friend had some unexpected business to attend to so she had to leave but it was nice having her come.  We continued hiking down into this little valley where David found a pond.

We saw some cows off in the distance and realized we were going to hike right through a their pasture.  My daughter Sophia was so excited to see the cows she started mooing, she's only 13 months old.  David was excited to see them too and wanted to shake the cows hand because that's what Grover 2.0 does on Sesame Street and what they they do on TV Petting Zoos.  I told him that we could wave to the cows but not shake their hands.

A panoramic view of were we stopped for snacks and did our turn around.  There were cows all around us mooing, David and Sophia were amused and scared at the same time.

Sophia is resisting arrest.  Jesse got her to put on her bunting.  It was getting chilly.

Classic David.  Both kids were really determined to hike back up the hill in the drainage.  Overall it was a good easy hike.  Until next time.

Mission Peak Regional Preserve

October 27, 2012: Last weekend, we hiked at Mission Peak Regional Preserve, in Fremont, California.  This is our second completed hike on the 2012 Trails Challenge from the East Bay Regional Park District.  We have hiked up Mission Peak many times before, but never with our two toddlers.  I have not been to the peak since before I was pregnant with my first son in 2009!  Last month we attempted to hike Mission Peak but through the Ohlone Entrance.

We had to park almost three blocks away from the main trail head, which is always a little annoying.  Mission Peak is a very popular mountain to hike around these areas.  There's always lots of people there...I do not want to seem judgmental but I don't think all the people make it to the top.
Heading up Hidden Valley Trail
We loaded the kids up in the backpacks and we started to hike up the trail.  Jesse carries about 45 pounds with David in the backpack and I carry about 30 pounds with Sophia in the backpack.  We have never carried them this much or on steep trails before so this was quite a workout.  It's been a few days since then and my calves still hurt.

The Trail Greeter
At our break, we stopped to drink water and so Sophia could crawl around and play in the dirt.  She LOVES playing in the dirt, its quite ridiculous.  Sophia also enjoyed this hike because there were so many dogs.  She plopped herself in the middle of the trail and said "Hi!!" and waved hello to every person that walked by.  Jesse nicknamed her the Trail Greeter.  She brought many smiles to many hikers.

Father and Son Sitting
David was in and out of Jesse's backpack since he likes to run around and actually hike.  We had stopped for a break a few minutes before we came up on the bench Jesse and David are sitting in the picture above, but David still wanted to sit with daddy on the bench.  By this point, Sophia was asleep in my backpack so I kept on hiking.  I'm not the fastest hiker especially with 30 pounds of baby and backpack on me so I knew Jesse could catch up to me.

This is the first hike we have done that had "crowded" trails and we got so many comments because we were hiking with our toddlers.  Some direct comments, "My God woman!! You deserve a high-five!" or "You give me inspiration!" or "That must be a workout!". Some indirect conversations between hikers, "Would you do that? I would!" "You must be crazy I could never do that!"  Whatever floats your boat.

I hiked until Sophia woke up and we waited for the boys to catch up with us on the Grove Trail.  Both Jesse and I have never been up the Grove or Horse Heaven trail so we were excited to see these trails.  The trail was shaded and mostly flat until we started Horse Heaven Trail, we even saw a little creek which was quite nice.

David almost to Mission Peak
We reached Peak Trail which eventually led us up to Mission Peak.  I was pretty tired and hungry by then so Jesse took Sophia and hiked quickly to the top, while I hiked at a toddlers pace to Mission Peak.  David that made it to the top which is very impressive for a two year old.  He was tired and kind of sulking in the picture above.  I was bribed him by saying Daddy had candy waiting for him at the top, which he did but David did not go for it.  He looked at my backpack longingly and hesitantly asked if he could get in.  I almost picked him up to put him in the backpack but I knew we were so close, so instead we sang the ABC's until we saw daddy at the top. 

As you can see it was a gorgeous day.  I could see the entire San Francisco Bay Area from the San Jose to San Francisco to Mount Diablo, 360 degrees!! Beautiful.  We had lunch and played around on the rocks for about an hour.

Mother and Daughter, Mission Peak!
We loaded up the kids again and headed down the mountain, down Peak Trail towards Horse Heaven Trail.  We crossed the McClure Spring (pictured below) and headed up a few switchbacks.  Sophia had fallen asleep by this point.  We had never been on Horse Heaven Trail and I had not read the trail description in detail so I did not know how steep Horse Heaven Trail was.

McClure Spring/Horse Heaven Trail
Coming down on Horse Heaven Trail was not fun for me.  I think I was a little dehydrated and I get stressed out coming down steep trails with my baby in my backpack.  I am a short person with a short torso so my baby backpack sits very high on my back.  Therefore, my center of balance is higher than normal which makes me feel off balance a tad bit, not to mention coming down a steep hill.

Another joy of motherhood which was caused by my pregnancies is the fact that my feet grew a little.  My hiking boots fit, size 6.5 but they feel a tiny bit snug. On flat trails I can hardly notice it but I could definitely feel the difference in size coming down the steep trail.

Halfway down the mountain, my head was pounding, legs felt shaky, my feet hurt from my boots, I'm off balance and I could feel blisters getting bigger on my toes.  I stopped at Agua Caliente Creek and sat in the shade for 15 minutes and guzzled some water.  A little later my head stopped hurting but everything else was still going on.  Jesse had to eventually carry my backpack, his backpack and Sophia because I was done.

We were almost done hiking, so Jesse and Sophia finished quickly while David and I hiked very slowly to the end.  I gave David a piggy back ride the last few hundred feet which he thoroughly enjoy and me too.

Here are our hiking statistics:

Total Time: 6 hours 23 mins

Longest Hike to Date (With Children): 7.2 Miles - Elevation Change 2,300 feet

Trail Hidden Valley/Grove/Horse Heave/Peak/Horse Heaven
Overall, First half I thoroughly enjoyed but not the second half.  Until next time Mission Peak!!

Related Posts: Trails Challenge 2012-East Bay Regional Parks
                          Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park

Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park

On Saturday we completed our first trail on the 2012 Trails Challenge from the East Bay Regional Park District. We only have six weeks to hike four more trails to complete the Challenge. We hiked at Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park, in Union City.  I have driven passed this park hundreds of times and never even noticed it was there.  I was pleasantly surprised today.

Jordon Pond
We started hiking on High Ridge Trail and hiked past Jordon Pond within the first 10 minutes.  I tried "hiding" the pond from my toddlers because one wants to stop and throw rocks and the other wants to go swimming in it.

We hiked quite a while on High Ridge Trail and had pretty views of the Bay. My daughter, Sophia was getting pretty fussy so we took her out of my backpack so she could walk around. She was happily playing around until she tripped and fell face first into the ground. We did not noticed right away but she had cut her left nostril and was bleeding a little bit and scratched up her forehead a little bit.

After Sophia was patched up, we continued hiking on High Ridge Trail until my son needed to use the "facilities". We stopped to look for a "bathroom" and found a spot a little off the trail near a giant Oak tree. I saw something move off to the right and I though it was a rabbit but then I saw antlers. I may have gasped out of excitement so loud that I scared my son, David. He scares easily so I I've learned to quickly turn a startling situation into something fun. I told him to be really quite and knelt down next to him so we could see the buck. The buck and I had a staring contest. I'm glad David had to go to the bathroom or else I would have never seen the deer.  If you look right in the center of the picture below you will see the deer.

We continued on High Ridge, walked very close to some residential houses and cemetery until we turned into shaded portions of the trail. Sophia had fallen asleep so we hiked as much as we could before she woke up.  We saw another hiker with his dog that was carrying a giant branch.  It was really funny.  The trails had lots of skinny bridges, which my son like a lot.

Nothing too exciting happened on this hike except the deer, just a nice day for a hike in the East Bay Hills.  I leave you with more pictures and our hiking statistics.

Mission Peak in the far background
Daddy and Daughter
 When we hiked, we moved at 2 mph but with toddlers we spent 1 hour 45 minutes not hiking.

 We hiked 5.2 Miles

Hiking Trail, courtesy our our GPS.

Trails Challenge 2012 - East Bay Regional Parks

In all of my searching for new hiking trails on the internet, I looked up the East Bay Regional Parks and found this awesome free program, Trails Challenge 2012 that the EBRP and Kaiser Permanente provide to the East Bay.  It's a program that promotes a healthy lifestyle for people.  There are certain qualifications and goals you have to meet but it is certainly doable, complete five of the listed trails or complete 26.2 miles of hiking.  We are planning to do the five closest trails to home because car rides haven't been too popular these days with our kids.

They provide a nice trails app, free t-shirt, and with completion of the trails a nifty little pin.  I really like this because it gave us more information to near by trails and to explore the East Bay in more detail.  We haven't completed any of the hikes yet because we just signed up but have until December 1, 2012 so we better start hiking!! Happy hiking everyone!!