Need some new ideas to keep the kids busy and happy on the weekend? Pack a lunch and head out to a trailhead in one of California’s parks or nature preserves. Explore wildlife and marine life on your hikes along the water and through marshes and forests. Choose from these easy California hikes to enjoy with your children.
Explore Wildlife and History at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center
Image via Flickr by Robert Couse-Baker
Kids who love to see animals in natural habits will enjoy a day walking the trails in the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. The center is a designated Watchable Wildlife area. Here, you can travel over eight different paths to catch a glimpse of deer, rabbits, and owls. Children should find the trails easy to navigate. Your family can also explore the replica Nisenan Maidu native village and the butterfly garden during your visit.
Note that the trails are not paved and may not the best option for strollers. You’ll need to leave dogs and bicycles at home, too. Admission fees help pay for maintenance and animal care and are just $2 per adult, $1 for each child, and $5 for parking. You’ll find the nature center inside Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael, California.
Spot Bald Eagles on the Alpine Pedal Path
The Alpine Pedal Path in Big Bear Lake is an ideal trail if you’re pushing children in strollers. This paved walkway follows the northern edge of Big Bear Lake. The path provides excellent views of the San Bernardino Mountains and the bald eagles that nest in the trees during the winter. Plan your visit between late November and early April to make sure you see these regal birds.
Plan to stay for the weekend and search for Big Bear Lake hotels via Hotel Planner. You can easily find hotels along Big Bear Road that are a short ride to the Alpine Pedal Path. Purchase a $5 adventure pass to park near the path.
Go Whale Watching at Point Reyes National Seashore
Image via Flickr by jmenard48
Visit Point Reyes National Seashore to spend quality family time on the beaches and hiking trails. Follow the 1.5-mile Abbots Lagoon Trail out to the Great Beach. Stroll along the shoreline where the kids can catch sightings of birds like ospreys, sparrows, and hawks. You may even see a bald eagle. If you children can handle steps, climb up to the Point Reyes Lighthouse lookout.
On land, your little ones can see deer, weasels, and foxes. Look out over the ocean to see harbor seals and sea lions napping on the rocks in the sunshine. Visit during the migration season from January to March and marvel at the families of gray whales traveling north. Point Reyes National Seashore is in Inverness, about 90 minutes north of San Francisco. You don’t have to pay an entrance fee. Note that dogs can’t join your family on the trails.
Take your children on an outdoor adventure and follow an easy hiking trail in California. Have fun watching native wildlife, birds, seals and even whales.