By Laure Latham
Publisher: TheMountaineers Books
General subject matter: hiking, California, family recreation
Laure’s blog: http://frogmom.com
I have a fairly good book collection about local hikes and outdoor places, and one of the superior ones is Laure Latham’s Best Hikes with Kids San Francisco Bay Area. Someone once recommended this book long before I acquired it, and at the time I shook my head, thinking the hikes would be too easy. Little did I know. Easy doesn't mean boring, and when you have children, easy to moderate hikes that are full of interesting things to see and do are what turns recalcitrant children into inquisitive, happy beings. Once I acquired Laure's book, I loved it! The reasons are numerous: it has an intelligent introduction, comprehensive chapters, great organization, family focus, and breadth of trails, many which are new to me.
|Dad, 2-month-old baby, 4-yr-old kid|
Laure emphasizes having fun. Some of the tips she has for motivating children include having them hike with friends, telling stories out loud (she’s got a great list of recommended books), doing arts and crafts on the trail, building fairy houses, and bringing lots of snacks. Practical tips, but potentially forgotten or de-emphasized by tired parents in their rush to get out the door, or finish a trail.
|Kids on the go! (credit: durangogov.org)|
A hundred hikes are divided between neighboring counties of San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Solano. There’s a map in the beginning of the book to show you where the hikes are, stretching as far north as Guerneville, as far south as Gilroy, and east from Fairfield.
Each hike has a “Before You Go” info box about maps and relevant web resources, and an info box about the hike’s vital points: length in miles, estimated hiking time, elevation, season, and level (easy, moderate, difficult). There are awesome detailed maps and a photo for each hike.
THE TRAILS LESS TRAVELEED
|at Candlestick Point, SF|
I love water and walking, but with newborn twins and a double stroller, I’m a little stymied for ideas of where to go to swim and stroll. I appreciate Laure’s write up about a 2.2-mile trail with a paved path at Spring Lake Regional Park in Sonoma County.
|Smittle (credit: westernwildflower.com)|
Monarch butterflies fascinate both my four-year-old and myself, and we’ve always wanted to see flocks of them. But when, and where? Laure tells where to find monarchs in Santa Cruz County. She recommends an easy 1-mile loop at Natural Bridges State Beach during certain migration months (and one is coming up!). On this hike you’ll also see amazing rock formations (Laure gets into describing the geology too) and get a chance to explore tidepools.
FROGMOM’S WRITING PROCESS
|Yes, this is Laure Latham! :-)|
Laure created three rules to guide her research and writing:
"First, I wanted my book to be fair to each county and represent the diversity of the Bay Area wherever you lived – not just for San Francisco families. That way, you could take the book with you on a day trip to Sonoma or a day trip to Santa Cruz and still find stuff to do. That meant popular Marin hikes would not be included but people would be able to discover the green side of Napa or Solano.
"Second, I wanted to include sightseeing and nature facts sidebars because I love to combine trails and travel. Seemed like seasonal events would be cool additions too.
"Third and last, I wanted each hike to have specific kid appeal – animal farm, cool nature fact, animal migrations, historic buildings, famous children’s books locations, shipwrecks, native American way of life, etc."
|Laure and her book! (credit: frogmom.com)|
And better yet, because the written word on printed page shall never die or go out of style, Best Hikes with Kids: San Francisco Bay Area is available and fully able to be stashed in the glove compartment of your minivan, in your baby's diaper bag, or in the undercarriage basket of your stroller.