Trail Resources for Kids & Families

Girls discovering nature at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve on the Peninsula.

With an amazing network of trails and partner organizations around the Bay, the Council is working to get children and families outside on the Ridge Trail.  The Ridge Trail is just one great source of fun and outdoor engagement available, and we hope to provide solid, go-to resources to help you and your kids or grandkids, get out there and have a great time.

Consider the resource list below a starting point.  Find tips, activities and outings, and other resources to help you engage the children in your life with our natural surroundings (including the Ridge Trail!) and healthy outdoor activities.


Resources

Family feeding horse a carrot at Ridge Trail Cruz.

The leading organizations on connecting youth to the great outdoors: 

Children & Nature Network 

Children in Nature Collaborative – Bay Area


Our corporate partner, REI:

REI Family Adventure Program - kids can get an Adventure Journal to log their fun in the outdoors plus find other activities and play online nature-focused games.  Parents, check out the photo contest, REI Family Adventures, and other resources such as these:

REI Geocaching article and videos - follow this link for information on Geocaching with families. Want to try geocaching on the Ridge Trail?  Check our calendar for upcoming opportunities!

REI Expert Advice for Families to introduce your kids to new outdoor activities - and our advice on where to take your family on the Ridge Trail:

Hiking with Kids - advice on how to get your kids excited about hiking.  One of the key tenents: choose a great destination that's close to home.  The Ridge Trail is perfect in so many ways: miles of trail in each Bay Area county hide magical places waiting to be discovered.   

A great starting place: the Golden Gate Bridge and the Presidio - everyone loves to walk the Ridge Trail across the Bridge and the Ridge Trail through the Presidio is gentle and offers exciting discoveries for the whole family.  Get the map.

Cycling with Kids - the Ridge Trail is a terrific place to take your kids cycling!  Whether they are enjoying the trail from a child bike seat, just starting out on their own bike, or trying mountain biking for the first time, the Ridge Trail is the place!

Our favorite section to ride is in San Jose: Coyote Creek Trail from Stonegate Park (off Tully Road) to Anderson Dam, 19-miles of paved trail follows Coyote Creek through mulitple parks and neighborhoods - the trail has a very easy grade and plenty of miles for multiple excursions.  Get the map.

Camping with Kids - there are great locations around the Bay to camp on or near the Ridge Trail.  Check out this link for advice on taking your kids on their first camping trip, and fun activities to do together while at the campground

For an extra special camping experience, try a yurt at Mt. Madonna County Park and enjoy hiking the Ridge Trail (map), accessible from the Visitor Center.


Our local partners:

California State Parks -  Children in Nature - includes a calendar of family friendly events in California State Parks, the Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights, guides to help you and your kids explore your neighborhood, and more!  Did you know the Ridge Trail goes thru 8 State Parks?

East Bay Regional Park District:

Kids Challenge - complete 5 of the 10 activities listed in the California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights.  One of the activities is follow a trail - why not follow the Ridge Trail thru the East Bay Hills and explore parks like Tilden and Sibley Volcanic Preserve (fantastic surprises can be found in Sibley!)?

Kids Nature Discoveries - Naturalist-led programs and activities are a great way for your family to learn about natural history and get outdoors. 

Boy at trailhead with activity sheet.

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Camping at the Presidio Program - Rob Hill Campground is on the Ridge Trail!  Find more info about the campground here.

Youth and Family Programs - Discover volunteer opportunities for the whole family.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District - Great Activities for Kids (2 on the Ridge Trail!)

Presidio Trust - Kids on Trails

Santa Clara County Parks

Just for Kids - kids can become a Junior Ranger and discover the Access 2 Nature website, which is packed full of great activities and information.

Healthy Trails Challenge - Hike 5 different trails to receive a gift from Santa Clara County Parks.  We challenge you to complete the challenge using only sections of the Ridge Trail.  Try these family friendly hikes on the Ridge Trail outlined in the 2nd edition of the Healthy Trails GuidebookRidge Trail is in bold.

  • Coyote Creek Parkway - Coyote Creek Trail: Malaguerra to Eucalyptus Rest Area and/or Silver Creek to Metcalf.  Each hike is 6 miles roundtrip.  Stroller friendly, great for school age children.
  • Penitencia Creek County Park - Penitencia Creek Trail.  4.4 miles roundtrip.  Stroller friendly, great for school age children.
  • Almaden Quicksilver County Park - Wood Road/Castillero/Mine Hill trails.  4.5 miles roundtrip.  Great for school age children.
  • Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park - Coyote Ridge/Havey Bear/Calaveras trails10.0 miles roundtrip. Stroller friendly and great for older school age children (due to the distance).
  • Ed Levin County Park - Tularcitos/Calera Creek/Agua Caliente trails. 3.4 miles roundtrip.  Great for school age children.
  • Mt. Madonna County Park - Ridge/Tie Camp/Merry-Go-Round trails. 3.6 miles roundtrip. Great for school age children.
  • Santa Teresa County Park - Fortini/Mine/Stile Ranch trails. 2.5 miles roundtrip.  Of Hidden Springs/Mine/Rocky Ridge/Coyote Peak trails.  5.0 miles roundtrip.  Both are great for school age children.

Youth Science Institute - offers a variety of activities and events.  Located in Alum Rock Park, just off the Ridge Trail!

 

Other great websites:

Landpaths - Getting Kids Outside

Let's Go Outside - US Fish & Wildlife Service

National Wildlife Federation - Kids

Pathways to Nature - For Kids

 

Resource Toolbox

Nature Clubs for Families Toolkit (pdf) - sponsored by our trail maintenance partners REI, the toolkit is a template and guidebook for starting your family and others on a path to happy outdoor adventure.

Nature Photography - 11 Simple Tips for Kids

Kids Discover Nature

When Learning Comes Naturally - A Guide for Parents and Teachers

Nature Rocks - great website to help your family explore nature near you.

September 25 is Nature Rocks Day!  What will your family do?  Here's our great idea - visit the Ridge Trail!

 

Have you heard about Nature-Deficit Disorder?

Nature-Deficit Disorder is a term coined by child advocacy expert and author Richard Louv in his best-selling and movement creating book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.

To sum it up, children across America are disconnected from the natural environment and overloaded with the "built" environment - from indoor spaces to electronics.  This lack of intimacy with nature is linked with the most current research of the day including childhood obesity, attention disorders, and vitamin D deficiency (which is linked to so many other diseases).

The book discusses the research and provides insight into how communities can foster the relationship between today's youth and the great outdoors.  (For a complete summary, click here.)

Researchers have determined that kids who spend more time outside:

  • do better in school
  • are quicker at solving complex problems
  • are generally healthier physically and emotionally
  • see better (yes, visually!)
  • are happier

That's where the Ridge Trail comes in with it's miles of trails, connecting communities and families to parks, and providing these great resources for your family!

We recommend you bookmark this page and visit it regularly for new resources and a current list of upcoming activities on or near the Ridge Trail that the whole family can enjoy!

 

Thank you to the David and Lucille Packard Foundation for their generous support of our goal to connect children and families to the Ridge Trail.

If you would like to contribute to the list of resources or events, please email our Development & Outreach Associate at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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