Posts Tagged ‘Bay Area hikes for preschoolers’

and last week we found a gem when we walked out to the tafoni sandstone formations in El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve.  The trails here are wide and secluded–perfect for toddlers–and this one ended in a spectacular destination that was interesting for the whole family.

The Monkey on a sunlit path


I learnt all about local geology and ‘tafoni’ (the little crevices and pocks in the sandstone) while the boys had fun wild-life spotting and running along the windy path.  It’s a bit of a trek at 2.2 miles, but highly recommended for the keen preschool hiker.

sandstone formations in the wood


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I’d never heard of this little gem up in the Santa Cruz mountains near Felton until this weekend, but it sounded so intriguing that we had to check it out.  Quail Hollow Ranch is a 300 acre historic horse ranch and nature preserve boasting a plethora of rare Californian plants and animals and no less than 15 natural habitats.  According to the on site museum, it’s also where the owners of Sunset magazine enjoyed the robust, outdoorsy life that kept them young at heart.

No preserve is complete without a dirt pile

After visiting today, I’d say it’s also a great destination for little boys. It has everything they need: large animals (horses), ducks, woodpeckers, eagles, logs to climb on, mud to squelch near the pond, and a flat but varied trail system to run along and explore.  There was also a man in the car park wearing a snake (I think he’s there the first sunday afternoon of every month).

Quail Hollow's airy trails

Quail Hollow Ranch has a couple of trails but they’re all fairly short and easy for little ones to hike.  We, or rather The Monkey, selected the Discovery Trail for our hike. It was actually a useful introduction to the preserve as it took us around the ranch, a little way up the hill, through the valley and round to the duck pond and picnic area.   There are a couple of other trails we plan to check out on future visits.  The preserve also has a cute little museum with some interesting natural history exhibits.  As usual, we didn’t meet any other families when we were there, which was a shame as this is a great spot to take toddlers to let them roam free (no traffic, no glaring natural dangers etc). And it’s free.

neat trees.

Not sure it’s worth a day trip from Silicon Valley, but if you’re heading out that way it’s a great spot to check out.

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