Sometimes it can be challenging to find child friendly hiking options in Northern, CA. Well anywhere for that matter. But I have a few of my favorites in Northern, CA for you today. These hikes are 3.5 hours or less from the Bay Area. Enjoy.
Las Posadas State Forest Loop- Angwin, CA.
735-999 Las Posadas Rd.
Angwin, CA 94508
We love this hike. In all honesty though we’ve never finished the entire hike. But only because we never get here early in the day. Being a loop makes it nice if you do intend to complete the hike start to finish. It is considered a moderate trail.
When we went there was some flooding so it was a bit complicated. Only if you are trying to stay clean or are afraid of water though. Crossing the logs was probably my kids favorite part. Beware though that the logs aren’t in cement or anything so they do move some. I don’t know if these logs are under water during the dryer seasons. I do suggest going after a good rain anyways just because part of the fun is crossing the logs.
Armstrong Redwoods State Preserve- Guerneville, CA
17000 Armstrong Woods Rd.
Guerneville, CA 95446
There are several options for hikes here ranging from easy to moderate. The first is Armstrong Redwoods Grove Loop Trail-1.2/Armstrong Nature Trail-2.8. This one is good if you want to learn about the park. There are plaques throughout the trail that inform you of animals and plants and even some history along the trail.
We have also tried the East Ridge Trail. It is around 5.5 miles and it is out and back. There is an option at the top where you can choose to go on the Pool Ridge Loop Trail. It is a climb but our kids had a blast doing this one and they’ve asked quite a few times to go back.
Both hikes are enjoyable I would say that the nature trail/Grove Loop Trails are usually busy. The East Ridge Trail had some traffic but it wasn’t too bad and it was relaxing.
Cataract Falls Trail- Fairfax, CA
Faifax Bolinas Rd
Fairfax, CA 94930.
This one is a bit harder to give exact directions for because there isn’t a street address. To get here I highly suggest you download an app called AllTrails. It is where we find most our hikes. They have an option to get directions to the hike once you have picked one. You can also search for the city or trail if you know where/which one you are looking for. They usually have reviews. Users can also add in the route they followed using the app to track distance, elevation, and time.
Now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way I can tell you about the hike. It’s beautiful! Two suggestions though: try to check road conditions because sometimes in the rainy season they get closed. Second, go in the rainy season if you can. This is a waterfall hike and it is a gorgeous one. Over the last few years that we’ve lived here it has gotten to be more of a trickle during the dry seasons, I am not sure though how much of an effect the drought had on this.
It has also started to gain popularity over the last couple of years because there has been an increase in traffic. I wouldn’t say it’s unbearable or anything. However, when we found this one originally, we would never see another soul for the duration of the 2.7-mile hike.
It’s out and back and there are a ton of stairs. There are other trails that you can use to turn it into a loop but I am not certain about them because we have never done that. If you download the AllTrails app there are several other variations of the trail from people who have done the loop options.
Westwood Hills Park- Napa, CA.
3107 Browns Valley Rd
Napa, CA 94558
This hike is 1.9 miles and it is rated as easy and I agree completely. It’s a blast. There are hidden tree swings and lots of random trails off the main one if you’re looking to waste a day and just wander. We really enjoyed this and when we went we weren’t aware of the tree swings but stumbled upon one. I believe there may be more than one from what I read after the hike. But I’m not sure if that’s true or where they are.
I seriously suggest if you have a day to waste and you are looking for a great kid friendly hike to try this one. It can get hot here in the summer but there is a lot of shade usually.
When you get to the top there is a great view of Napa. The trail is right off of a main road but once you start it you will feel like you are far outside the city.
Shirley Canyon Cascades Trail- Tahoe City, CA
400 Squaw Peak Rd
Alpine Meadows, CA 96146
This is a 4.1-mile hike. It is rated as hard and I completely agree. It was a real challenge especially with children. I would only suggest this hike if you have taken your kids out on several other challenging hikes. Or if you are patient and willing to let them challenge themselves.
We took our 3 & 5-year-old on this hike and they did great. At times it was a bit nerve wracking though. The trail is open primarily from April- October. We didn’t make it the whole way because it was challenging. We didn’t realize until we left that we had almost made it to the top.
Part of what makes it so challenging is all the climbing. There are lots of huge rocks/boulders but it is fun. From my understanding, there may be a gondola as well but since we did not make it to the top I can’t say for sure. When the snow clears up this year we intend to try this one again and then I can give you an update about the gondola.
This trail is marked with pink highlighted spray paint because it can be slightly difficult to follow the trail. We saw waterfalls the whole way up. There is also supposed to be a lake at the top also, I believe.
I may sound like I’m not completely for this one but it was one of my all-time favorite hikes because of the challenge and I look forward to taking my 4 & soon to be 6-year-old back to it.
Don’t let the fact that some hikes don’t talk about being kid friendly keep you and your family from trying. I think all but one of these hikes said nothing about being kid friendly. We could barely find info about them the first time we went on them. It doesn’t mean that they won’t be it just means no one has tried. Or they just didn’t want to write a review, which I am so guilty of.
Sometimes a hike that I would let my kids go on isn’t a hike another parent would be comfortable letting their little ones go on as well and that may be the case with some of these. I do hope that you enjoy them anyways though.
If you have any hikes that you and your family love let me know in the comments and for those of you that try these let me know how you liked them!
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