Family-Friendly Bike Trails In The Bay Area
Biking is a fun and healthy way to get the whole family together for some quality time, and luckily, there are a bevy of family-friendly trails all around the San Francisco Bay Area. While these trails vary in length and location, they all have one thing in common: They’re a great way to spend time together.
Before you head out, keep in mind these family biking tips:
- Wear helmets. This is even more important for less experienced riders. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a serious head injury by up to 60%! Check out a local shop for the best fit.
- Consider a balance bike for little ones. There aren’t any pedals or training wheels, so they’re great for acclimating little kids with two wheels.
- Be visible. Make sure to wear bright clothing that helps other riders and pedestrians see you. Reflective tape is another great option.
- Double check gear. If you’re traveling with a trailer or rear-mounted bike seat for kids too little to ride on their own, double check to make sure everything is attached properly.
- Make a few rules. Before you hit the trail, have a family discussion about trail etiquette. This makes the whole experience much better for parents, kids and other trail users.
- Pack a snack and some water. Kids especially can get dehydrated quickly, so it’s good to have something light on hand and a bottle of water ready.
Once you’ve got the right gear, the only thing left to do is pick a trail. Here are a few of our favorites around the Bay Area that are fun for the whole family.
Crissy Field | San Francisco
You just can’t beat the views from the Crissy Field mixed-use trail in San Francisco. Ranging from 1.9 to 4 miles, this trail is pretty flat, so it’s perfect for learning how to ride a bike. Kids and adults alike will love the trail. There are also plenty of stops to rest, bird watch and take in the view. You’ll also have access to beaches, making it an extra cool destination for families.
Iron Horse Regional Trail | Danville
The Iron Horse Regional Trail spans 32 miles, so whether your family is all for going the distance or you just want to take it a piece at a time, there are plenty of options here. The trail connects Concord and Pleasanton and follows the Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way, which was established in the 1890s and ceased in 1978. This trail is paved and has a flat grade, so no tough hills.
JFK Drive, Golden Gate Park | San Francisco
Finding a trail with absolutely no car traffic can sometimes be a challenge, but rest assured you won’t find any vehicles on the stretch of JFK Drive trail in Golden Gate Park. Before the pandemic, this road was closed to cars on weekends – which made it popular for joggers and cyclists. Following lockdown, however, the city permanently closed the road to traffic, so this trail is extra safe for kids new to biking. There are a few slopes, but nothing too major.
Contra Costa Canal Trail | Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek & Concord
Your family could visit the Contra Costa Canal Trail a dozen different times and each one could be different! This whole-access trail is perfect for families because it’s paved and connects to a bunch of different parks, making stops and exploring easy. It connects to a number of regional trails, including the California State Riding and Hiking Trail, Briones-to-Mt. Diablo Trail, and the Iron Horse Trail. It’s set to also connect with the Delta De Anza Trail later on when finished.
Lake Chabot Shoreline Trail | East Bay
There are several trails to choose from at Lake Chabot, but families will love the paved 3.52-mile West Shore and East Shore trails, which are accessible to every skill level. There are also plenty of picnic tables around the lake, so stopping for a break is no problem. Riders report this trail is flat and offers great views of the lake.
Lower Great Highway Trail | San Francisco
Calling all ocean lovers! The Lower Great Highway Trail has a lot to offer families. The nearly 2.5-mile trail, which is open to cyclists, joggers and anybody wanting to take in the views, allows access to the beach, plus direct access to the San Francisco Zoo at its southern end and Golden Gate Park at its northern end. From a pit-stop to build sand castles to finishing off at the zoo, whatever the family is in the mood for, you’ll be able to find it here.
Redwood Regional Park | Oakland
Hop on over to Oakland for a day in Redwood Regional Park, a forested oasis just a few miles from downtown. As its name suggests, the 1,833-acre park boasts 150-tall redwood trees and lots of recreational opportunities. For families on two wheels, the East Bay Skyline National Trail and Bay Area Ridge Trail are both good options. There are several park entrances, places to stop and rest and picnic spots.
Ready for some adventure? Head on out to Tennessee Valley Trail, which is an offshoot of the Marin Headlands. This is a great beginner trail for mountain biking, the quick 1.7 mile trail begins at the parking areas. The surrounding nature makes this trail especially cool (spot raptors, deer and maybe even a bobcat), but the real treat is reaching the beach at the end. The only family members not welcome on this trial are the furry ones, you’ll have to leave all pets at home.