"All good things are wild and free." --Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Father's Day Hike and Picnic on the Beach Below Fort Funston --- June 15, 2014

With only days to spare, one can't expect a big turn-out, but Sunday sure will be a good day for a walk from Fort Funston to the beach below.

This hike is open to all, but especially meant for folks with kids. It's Father's Day, which is great, but also TOTALLY welcome are grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends, single parents, same-sex parents, anybody!

The Details
The stairs going down to beach

  • June 15, 2014
  • Meet at 10:30ish in the main parking lot, near the beach lookout beside the hang-glider area, located in the westernmost end of the parking lot.  We will walk at 11
  • The whole hike will probably be two hours long, but come and go as you please! :-)
  • This is not stroller friendly, sorry! The steps and the beach make bringing a stroller impossible. You will need to carry babies and your bags. Both my husband and I will be carrying a baby, and a bag. If we all go slow, it's fun! Keep in mind that it is manageable for a 3 or 4 year old
  • Fort Funston is off-leash dog territory. I've never had a problem there, and don't anticipate a problem. Then again, I keep my kid close and don't encourage petting unknown dogs on walks anyways. 
  • Regarding your dog, if you got one---please think of the group. Some dogs get kind of intense, and that's not fun for little kids and other parents to be around. Fort Funston is full of dogs, and nobody is boss of you, but if you bring your dog, I hope he/she is absolutely friendly. If you have a dog that usually starts barking, yipping, straining at the leash, etc, please reconsider taking it on a group hike.  Thanks! 

The Hike
  • We will do part of the Low Tide Loop Hike. We will probably start in a southern direction, down the Step Ladder Trail leading down to the beach. It's utterly beautiful--amazing views and landscape. You can, if you want, just choose to walk down the steps and play at the beach, then retrace your route back to your car. Or you can carry on, doing the whole loop, which is 2.5 miles. (Please note that there is a chance that my family might just do the Step Ladder Trail and hang out at the beach, not the entire Low Tide Loop).
  • There is a port-o-potty and drinking water at the parking lot. 

We hope to see you on the hike, and look forward to it! 
--Jessica and Marshall, parents of Zoe, Calliope, and Genevieve

• Going southbound on CA 35 in San Francisco, pass John Muir Drive, take the first right (signed Fort Funston). Stay right and go on to the parking lot.
• Going northbound on CA 35, make a U-turn at John Muir Drive. Proceed southbound and take the first right (signed Fort Funston). Stay right and go on to the parking lot.

View Fort Funston in a larger map

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Upcoming Group Hike for May 2014: Junipero Serra Park

Have you heard of Junipero Serra Park? If you drive south of San Francisco on 280, chances are you have passed this modest looking forest-covered hill to the east, never knowing that a 108-acre park is there, where El Zanjon Creek runs and coast live oaks grow in profusion. Join us here for a kid-friendly group hike here on Saturday May 31st, for about two hours (11 am to 1 pm).
The Hike Details
We'll take an unhurried 1.3 mile-long walk, starting on the zig-zagging southern end of the Quail Loop Trail. There's lots of shade here, by the way. The trail is dirt and narrowish. I've used a jogging stroller for my twins here, and will probably bring it again, though I remember it being tough in parts.

We'll have snacks and rest for a while at the Upper Meadow Playground near the summit of the park. There is some elevation change (219 feet), but we'll take it slow. There is also an enormous 54-foot long slide at the playground at the top, and great views looking north and east. If your kid loves airplanes, she will go gaga for all the planes taking off from SFO.

We'll continue on our loop, going downhill now to where things level out, more or less. Back at the parking lot we can return to the DeAnza Playground area where we began, and hang out for a leisurely picnic lunch.

Last Thing
Bring your own food and water. Since this is a San Mateo County Park, it costs $6 per car. Sorry, no dogs allowed here. Official park info is here:  http://parks.smcgov.org/junipero-serra-park If you need more information, email me at jericahahn@hotmail.com. Hope to see you and your kid(s)! Grandparents, aunties, and uncles welcome too!

Cheers, Jess

The Important Details

Saturday May 31st, 2014

Arrive 10:30ish. Walk begins at 11. 

Meet on the right/south end of the parking lot, 
at the DeAnza Playground. 

Little kids LOVE Junipero Serra Park!
Southbound on 280: Exit Crystal Springs Road, keeping in the right lane. Turn right on Crystal Springs Road, going on about half a mile to the parking lot on the left side of the road.

Northbound on 280: Exit San Bruno Ave, going under the freeway, turn left to go back on 280 southbound. Exit Crystal Springs Road, keeping in the right lane. Turn right on Crystal Springs Road, going on about half a mile to the parking lot on the left side of the road.

1801 Crystal Springs Road
San Bruno, CA 94066

And babies LOVE Junipero Serra Park too!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Upcoming Hike for February 2014: Redwood Regional Park in the Oakland Hills

Redwood Regional Park
Credit: Our Oakland
Join my husband and I, and friends John and Rebecca, and all of our little kids for a group hike at Redwood Regional Park in the Oakland hills

We will walk on a stroller-friendly trail, a mile in and a mile out, along Redwood Creek where towering redwoods, fragrant bay laurels, and beautiful madrones grow. 

  • Sunday February 16th
  • Arrive at 10:45. We'd like to start walking at 11. 
We start at Canyon Meadow, close to the park office, fire station, and a historical fishway interpretive site, a historical landmark. You'll find Canyon Meadow just through Redwood Gate, off of Redwood Road. 

We will walk the Stream Trail where the air is clean and moist. Stream Trail is only 0.9 miles long, and its asphalt surface easily accommodates strollers. We'll visit a meadow with a play structure (bars and slides) for the kids to explore. If we're lucky we might see deer, or a rabbit, or hear a Great Horned Owl. 

Note that there is a $5 parking fee, and if you bring your very friendly dog, that'll be another $2. 

Redwood Regional Park
There are 1,800 acres in this important watershed park, and it's just a short distance from the bustle of Oakland. Back in the mid-1800s, loggers cut down the biggest redwoods to supply the demand for building materials, for homes and ships, during Gold Rush times. Though the redwoods you'll see on our hike are second and third generation, they are nothing to sniff about, reaching over a hundred feet tall. 

Hill Babies--What's this hike about?
No hidden agendas, just some old-fashioned fun. Though we go at a four-year-old's pace, big kids are encouraged to come and go as fast as they like. Sometimes it's all about just getting out of the house and meeting up with some people who want to be outside with kids, and in Mother Nature's playground. 

Directions from San Francisco

View Larger Map

Directions Going eastbound on I-580 in Oakland, take the 35th Avenue Exit. Turn left, going east on 35th Avenue, which becomes Redwood Road. Go about four and a half miles, crossing Skyline Boulevard, and look for park entrance signs. The main entrance, Redwood Gate, is on Redwood Road, about two miles east of Skyline Boulevard. 

Good Links

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rancho Corral de Tierra

Old Pedro Mountain Road

Rancho Corral de Tierra is less than half an hour south of San Francisco by car, situated close to the Pacific Ocean, off of Highway 1, and straddles the mountains behind the communities of Montara, Moss Beach, and El Granada. There's 4,000 acres here, criss-crossed by creeks flowing through the chaparral and coastal scrub habitats. In certain spots the view of the western horizon is so expansive, one can see the curve of the earth along the blue Pacific Ocean.

Who says strollers are for kids?
I came here for my first time in January of 2014, brought by a friend and former co-worker, Mike Cadigan.We worked as special education teachers and led the school's hiking club, and recently re-connected at the Hill Babies group hike in December of 2013 on Bayview Hill in San Francisco. Mike has always been the one to ask about hikes on the peninsula. He still leads hikes with ICO, and I think the Sierra Club too. So when we asked if I'd been to Rancho Corral de Tierra, and learned that I hadn't, he suggested a Hill Babies hike here. Though he doesn't have little kids, he brought his seventeen year old pooch, replete with a doggie stroller.

The hike began in the parking lot of Farallone View Elementary School in Montara. Though it was the weekend, the school's playground was open to use, and local kids and parents were having fun. We walked to the end of Le Conte Avenue, passing alpacas standing in a field to our right, and the kids grabbed brooms of pampas grass and shook them high (yes, pampas grass is a terrible, invasive species, and I know better than to let kids strew the seeds everywhere, but they're kids and it's fun).

There were two trails at the end of Le Conte Avenue, and we took the one branching to the right.

The little bridge
We headed northeast on a trail through the dense foliage, ending at intersection of Tamarind and Edison Streets. The trail continued where Tamarind Street ended, over a footbridge and into the woods.

The bulk of our hike was on an old road turned into a trail, still called Pedro Mountain Road. According to this article on Wikipedia, Pedro Mountain Road was first mentioned in 1769 when it was described as "a very bad road"---those these days it's just perfect for strollers and anyone wanting to walk with a little elbow room around fellow hikers.

Pedro Mntn. Road
We followed Pedro Mountain Road down, down, down, traversing chaparral and coastal scrub habitats. The sun shone brightly. We were far from the forest now. We walked over a mile it seemed, gradually downhill. In the back of my mind I was thinking, "Oh boy, this is gonna be a long uphill trek at the end of the day," but I was curious to see where the road would lead, and what the day would be like. Kids ran around, playing and laughing, and babies giggled.

We reached a horse farm that delighted the kids who could watch the geldings and mares stand in the sunshine and swish their tails. I was impressed that the kids didn't mind at all the stench of horse crap as a group of them, my eldest daughter included, stood on the edge of a very large manure bin and admired the horses.

The "Troll Bridge"
We followed Pedro Mountain Road over a bridge that we called the Troll Bridge, a good twenty feet over a deep ditch. I believe, though I'm unsure, that this is where Martini Creek must flow during wetter winters than this one. Though there weren't any sounds of running water, the slope to the creek bed was lush and thick with plant life. Overhead the eucalyptus rustled in the breeze.

Across the Troll Bridge, the trail forked at North Peak Access Road. We went left, and a dozen yards up, connected to the right back onto Pedro Mountain Road. I could see a port-o-pottie in the distance, so conveniently placed.

At this point, over an hour into the walk, still under the hot sun, the kids were dropping like flies. I mean it. For them, this had become the Bantu Death March. Down dropped a family, right into the road. "The kids... Hungry... Tired," they said as they unwrapped sandwiches and popped container lids. Overhead a hawk circled.

"Mike," I said, nudging my old co-worker who was pushing along his happy-go-lucky dog. "Maybe we should stop now for lunch?"

"Just beyond that port-o-pottie is an amazing place," he said, pointing at the road curving out of sight beyond the chaparral. "It's just a quarter mile up. You can make it."

The picnic spot
And I did, and so did several other families. Once we rounded the bend in the road you could see a grassy field and picnic tables, a few Monterey cypress scenically poised, and beyond, the big oceanic blue contending with the paler wash of late afternoon light in a blue California winter sky. It was lovely.

We ate, and then we played. We brought along a parachute for the kids to dance and jump underneath, brining back memories of doing the same in my childhood.

Good hike!
We retraced our route, this time going uphill on Pedro Mountain Road, though the walk seemed shorter. At some particularly whiny point, the tiniest babies were taken out of their strollers and carried on their parents' backs, while the three and four year old set piled into the strollers for a first class ride back up Pedro Mountain Road. Little prince and princesses!

Back at Farallone View Elementary School, the kids wanted to play at the playground, and we adults were happy to oblige. We left a few hairs before sunset. The kids were finally pooped, while us adults actually felt like we got quite a hike. I'd like to return here again, and explore Pedro Mountain Road more, going uphill, as far as it can go, though I might have to hire a babysitter for the kids.



Monday, December 30, 2013

Upcoming Hike: Rancho Corral de Tierra


Celebrate the new year with a mellow walk at Rancho Corral de Tierra in beautiful Montara, less than a half hour south of San Francisco.

  •       Saturday January 4th
  •       Arrive at 10:45. We would like to begin the walk at 11:00.
  •       Meet at the parking lot of Farallone View School, 1100 Le Conte Ave, Montara, CA 94037. Cross street: 3rd Street.
We start at a public school in Montara (Farallone View Elementary), adjacent to an easy, beautiful trail -- some of it is an old paved road -- paralleling the Coast Highway from a half-mile distance.  This land, called Rancho Corral de Tierra, is now part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Check out this link:  http://www.nps.gov/goga/rcdt.htm. Look at the second map on that page for a close-up.

Our route is mostly flat. Strollers should be able to manage. We’ll see horses and an alpaca farm, and plenty of coyote brush and maybe some wildflowers. An hour out is an area with picnic tables where we can have lunch. Also, dog friendly, but must be on-leash.  Before or after, if needed, there’s a good independent coffee shop nearby too.

Kid-friendly and without hidden agendas or costs, we go at a 4-year-old’s pace. Two hours, more or less. Come and go as you please. Socialize with the wider group or just commune with your kids and Mother Nature. These hikes have been organized simply to meet other people who love the outdoors and who are connected to kids in some way. Bring food and water, and dress in layers.

This hike will be co-led by Michael Cadigan, one of Jess’s former teacher-colleagues who has also been involved with organized hiking groups, like ICO (Inner City Outings) and Sierra Club, for years.

--Jessica :-)

View Larger Map

Monday, November 11, 2013

Upcoming Hike! Bayview Hill in San Francisco--11/16/2013

Back by popular demand---the hike on a hill with yo' baby or kid!! This is a good one: stroller friendly, views from Mount Diablo to San Bruno to Mount Tamalpais, and probably a place you've never been to before in San Francisco.

Bayview Hill

November 16th, 2013
On top of Bayview Hill
  • Meet at the east end of Key Avenue (cross street: Jennings)
  • 9 am to 12 noon. Try to arrive by 8:45 to factor in the limited parking on Key Avenue. 
Bayview Hill in San Francisco is a great place to walk, especially with a fun group of kids and adults. There is a short distance (less than a quarter mile) uphill, on a wide, paved, pedestrian-only road. Once we reach the top of the hill, there is a flat, circular road---long abandoned, gravelly, and slowly being broken by plants--of no more than half a mile.

Bayview Hill, a 44-acre park, has an interesting history, and is a significant designated natural resource area in our city. The last stand of Islais cherry, a food source for the Ohlone indigenous people, still grows here, as do rare lupine plants that attract very special butterflies, like the Mission Blue. You can often see raptors--hawks and kestrels--flying overhead, or in the trees. There are also wall and staircase remnants of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) from the 1930s, and an Art Deco radio tower building from 1934.

Pack a lunch, water, and dress in layers. We'll still walk if it's light rain (but the forecast looks fine).

If you're in doubt about bringing your baby, rest assured: our eldest came here when she was 13 days old, and our newest--six-month-old twins--are coming up here for their first time.

For more information about Bayview: http://hillbabiessf.blogspot.com/2009/10/nearly-secret-hike-bayview-hill-of-san.html

Download a brochure with map here: http://sf-recpark.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/wcm_recpark/Volunteer/Brochures/BayviewHill.pdf

Directions to the Meeting Location
Key Avenue & Jennings
Public Transit:
  • T-3rd Light Rail
  • CalTrain, Bayshore Station
Heading south on 101:
  • Exit towards Cow Palace/3rd Street
  • Follow signs for 3rd Street/US 101 N/Bayshore Blvd N
  • Stay right at the fork, follow signs for 3rd Street/Bayshore Blvd S
  • Left on Bayshore Blvd
  • Continue on 3rd Street
  • Right at Key Ave
Heading north on 101:
  • Exit 429B/3rd Street
  • Right at Key Avenue

View Larger Map

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Let's Play in McLaren Park

On Saturday October 12th there are two great things happening in McLaren Park: the opening of a new playground at Peru and Burrows Street, and a reggae concert at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. 

Both are free, and you should come! 

My friend, Chuck Farrugia, and his wife, Trilce, have been the galvanizing forces to create this particular playground. I know they credit a lot of other people in the making of this playground, and that's to be expected, but I think of it as a real triumph for neighborhood activism which they spurred on. Check out http://helpmlpark.weebly.com.

As for the concert, it's one of many in a series of concerts this year at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater. Just last month Charity and the Jamband played for a crowd of screaming toddlers. Check out http://savemclarenpark.org.

12:30--Playground Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Peru and Burrows Street, McLaren Park

2 pm--Reggae show at Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, McLaren Park

There are trails leading between the two destinations, so park your car by Peru and Burrows, or take the # 44 bus. Check out the playground. Bring your picnic lunch. Later, wander in the direction of the reggae music, or just pick your own trail and explore the park. 

This is not a guided hike, by the way--I'm still adjusting to getting outside and about with two young twins and a four-year-old. This is just an open invitation to all who are connected in some way to Hill Babies, or who like to hike and play and be with children.