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Monday, June 14, 2010

Celebrate Father’s Day Outdoors Around the San Francisco Bay

This is a guest post by Laure Latham, author of the excellent family travel blog Frog Mom. She is currently hiking all around the Bay Area for her upcoming book "Best Hikes with Kids in the San Francisco Bay Area" (2011). Until it comes out, find lots of hikes on her Facebook page. She also writes a green parenting column for the San Francisco Examiner.com and you can follow her on Twitter @frogmomblog. Thank you Laure for sharing your expertise with us!

Want to make Dad feel extra special? Better than a gizmo, offer him a day out to remember and document it with all your media power or an entry in your kids’ journal. Father’s Day is usually blessed with true summer weather so all the more reason to go outdoors and enjoy the sun. The following hikes and events take place in wonderful parks that have unique characteristics – unique to the Bay Area that is.

Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserve: Nature hike and wine tasting

June 19 - 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

A winery at the end of a trail? The fact is rare enough just to get mentioned, but even more interesting when you realize that the winery occupies the historic buildings of an old ranch in the Cupertino foothills. Closer than Napa with a nature component, Picchetti Open Space Preserve is also a great picnic spot for families as the picnic area is organized around a wide grassy area.


For your hike, choose the short and moderate Orchard Loop Trail that meanders through the – now wild - orchards of the former ranch, offers great views of the Stevens Creek Reservoir, and takes you back to the trailhead.

For a behind-the-scenes intro to this park, join docents Bob Segalla, Jim Rea, and Toni Gooch for the Search for the Everlasting guided hike on June 19, 2010. Discover whether or not the everlasting plant smells like maple syrup to you; take in a lovely view along the Orchard Loop and Zinfandel Trails; listen to the sound of Stevens Creek as you enjoy lunch at a Santa Clara County Park picnic area. Capable children can handle this moderately-paced, 4-mile hike with a couple of 200-foot climbs. Meet at the parking lot at 10:30 a.m.. No reservations required, FREE.

Henry Cowell State Park: Redwood hike and crazy hats

Saturday, June 19, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. , Sunday, June 20, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Henry Cowell State Park offers the charm of majestic redwood groves with a distinct Santa Cruz flair. The park's visitor center is right across from Roaring Camp Railroads, a steam train operation that transports train enthusiasts from this part of the Santa Cruz mountains to the beach boardwalk. Back at the park, the all flat loop that passes by the tallest tree giants is both soothing and invigorating. As you stroll along, enjoy the green quality of sun light filtered through the redwood canopy. It is really quite special. You can even walk to a small dirt “beach” along the San Lorenzo River to enjoy a refreshing splash in shallow waters.

However the Crazy Hat Days around Father’s Day are events not to be missed for a fun twist on Father’s Day. Listen to live music, taste great food, and hike in the redwood park, but don’t miss the highlight. Crazy Hat Days are the perfect opportunity to let your imagination run wild! Impress your family or the crowd by entering the crazy hat contest and other fun games like hula-hoops-n-hats, crazy hat contest for dogs. You can make or find a fuzzy hat, lamp shade hat, historic hat, nature themed hat, flower bouquet hat, or a hand-made hat all your own. Seriously, when was the last you wore a three-foot submarine construction on your head?

Point Reyes National Seashore: Coast Miwok and Poetry

Saturday June 19, 8 p.m.

If Dad loves a good rhyme or music under the stars, then the Kule Loklo trail at Bear Valley in the Point Reyes National Seashore could be the ultimate Father’s Day experience. The Coast Miwok reconstructed village will come alive at the end of a day-long workshop on the craft of words, poetry and storytelling by award-winning artists. You don’t have to attend the workshop but the evening performance at Kule Loklo will be a night to remember so mark your calendar. The reconstructed village consists of several Coast Miwok structures spread on a grassy hill a short walk from the Bear Valley Visitor Center. On June 19, at 8 p.m., poetry, cello music and storytelling will fill the night sky and make you forget how close you are to city life. Find out all the details and register here.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Redwood Hike and Living History

Sunday, June 20, 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

For an historical take on redwoods, visit Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the oldest state park of California on Sunday June 20, and walk through the half-mile mile-long and level redwood loop. Only that day, you can walk with a time travel perspective. Come celebrate Father’s Day by honoring some of the remarkable men who lived in, worked in and fought for Big Basin. Living history re-enactments bring you back in time where you’ll meet pioneer settlers, Big Basin founders and early park rangers. Stroll through the magnificent redwoods on this half-mile, 1.5-hour guided walk. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. Meet at Park Headquarters. Get the cameras ready to roll!

Men of Big Basin photo courtesy of the California State Parks

Hayward Regional Shoreline: Bay-Side Hike and Father’s Day Family Camp Out


June 19 -June 20, 2 p.m. through 11 a.m.

Hayward Regional Shoreline is an unexpected stretch of protected marshland and bay trails just north of Highway 92, famous for its bird watching. As you walk away from the visitor center through former salt ponds and marshes, birds start swooping by and peppering the landscape. Bayside is how you want to take the loop north until you hit a landfill now completely grown over by bushes and grasses. If you didn’t know there was trash beneath, you wouldn’t be able to guess it. Then you retrace your steps south to the visitor center on the inland paths. Bonus: it’s all flat. Be ready for very windy bayside exploration – as in, wear lots of layers - and somewhat gentler breezes more inland.

A great way to discover this little-known preserve is the Father’s Day Family Camp Out on June 19-20, 2010. Just pitch your tent and get treated to meals and activities by the center’s naturalists for the entire family. Expect stargazing, beach-combing, birding and more, as well as the ritual marshmallow roasting session. Reservations are required so register online here or call (510) 881-6700.

For other ideas on how to spend Father's Day in the San Francisco Bay Area, click here.

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