The outdoors is calling this weekend: On Thursday before the turkey carving, why not go for a walk on a local trail? Then on Friday, REI invites you to #OptOutside and spend the day in a national, state or regional park enjoying the outdoors with family and friends. This year take time to step off the holiday merry-go-round and explore a park by bike or on foot.
Northern California’s East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) has several parks with paved trails that are not too steep, not too long, just right for families with young children. With 65 parks in the system to choose from, there’s probably one not too far away. Find more information including downloadable maps, at www.ebparks.org.
Big Break Regional Trail
This 1.6 mile paved trail follows the Delta shoreline from Marsh Creek Trail west to Jordan Lane in Oakley. The trail is located in a small bay where salt water from the San Francisco Bay meets the fresh water runoff of the San Joaquin River. This trail links up to the northern end of the Marsh Creek Regional Trail, a 6.5 mile path that can be accessed in Brentwood.
Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail
This trail through Contra Costa County is 14.25 miles long, flat, paved and connects the communities of Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, and Concord. The trailhead is at Muir Rd. in Martinez. As it follows the hills, the trail bisects the Iron Horse Trail in Walnut Creek and meanders along the Contra Costa Canal to end in Concord at Willow Pass Rd. east of Sixth St. One of the most popular paths in the park system, this multi-use, whole access trail (that is, it’s accessible to people in wheelchairs) is used by bikers, runners and equestrians. This trail has several access points where families can jump on and ride, one of which is Walnut Creek’s Heather Farms Park.
Alameda Creek Trail
In the southern-most reach of the EBRPD, the Alameda Creek Trail runs along the banks of Alameda Creek from Niles Canyon westward to the Bay, a distance of 12 miles. There are paved paths on both the north and south sides of the creek, with the south bank trail offering access to Coyote Hills Regional Park. The trail is accessible from several points in the cities of Fremont, Union City, and Newark.
Martinez Regional Shoreline
This park has several short trails that hug the Bay; in total, they add up to about 3 miles of distance. The trailside vistas include the steep (and very spectacular) Carquinez Strait to one side and the busy Carquinez Bridge on the other. Depending on whether the day is gloomy and gray or bright and sunny, the Bay’s water ripples with the wind, its colors changing from slate grey to turquoise blue and mossy green.
Crown Memorial State Beach
This trail in Alameda is 2.5 miles and also follows the Bay’s shoreline. The showpiece of the park is its white sandy beach, unique to Bayside beaches. If 2.5 miles is too short for your energetic family, extend your ride another mile across Alameda’s own bicycle drawbridge onto Bay Farm Island.