Hiking with a toddler isn’t really hiking in the traditional sense. Sometimes it’s just a walk down the street, or a quest to find bugs or fairies. So we’ve rounded up a bunch of toddler-friendly “hikes” that you can take your little ones on in the East Bay. These hikes are generally short, mostly flat, and often have some sort of playground or other toddler-attention-grabbing elements. Big thanks to all the terrific tips from our Facebook Group! Oh, and don’t forget all the snacks!
Our East Bay Parks, a great place to start
The East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) manages a giant system of beautiful public parks and trails spanning over 120,000 acres in Alameda & Contra Costa counties. EBRPD has created a super useful list of short loop trails that are perfect for toddler-level hikes. Each of the 36 listed hikes is between .5 miles and 3 miles total; reference the list and find the length, elevation gain, and max grade so you know what to expect.
8 Sweet Oakland Hikes for Tots
Bridgeview Troll Hike near Montclair Golf Course, Oakland
While not necessarily stroller-friendly, this little hike offers an added bit of toddler “bait” in the form of hidden troll statues along the trail. There are also some cute, though precarious swings, and the beauty of redwoods to further entice little hikers.
Garber Park in Claremont Canyon, Oakland
We heard about this little park from our Facebook Group. Stayz says, “Garber park in Oakland is a hidden gem. Park at the end of Rispin Drive at the swing set. There’s a loop hike that’s less than .5 miles with almost no poison oak. Toddler heaven.” Garber Park is a 13-acre wildland park located behind the Claremont Hotel in Claremont Canyon. You can read more about it here. Be warned though, it sounds like there’s a bit of a hill to contend with.
Knowland Park behind the Oakland Zoo
The 500-acre wildland, Knowland Park, might reward curious hikers with room to run and a glimpse at zoo animals.
Redwood Glen Trailhead at Joaquin Miller Park, Oakland
The Redwood Glen Trailhead at Joaquin Miller Park offers a magical forest with three trail options great for toddling little ones. There are often little structures and forts built by others out of bits of trees and branches that’ll excite your little one’s imagination for sure. Or you can park on Joaquin Miller Road, directly in front of The Cascade Fountains to access the stairs and other play areas.
Lake Temescal @ Temescal Regional Recreation Area, Oakland
Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, Port of Oakland
From our Facebook Group, Sally says, “Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is one of my favorite places for an easy hike. It’s right by the container ships in Oakland so there is plenty of fun (and colorful) stuff to see if you’ve got kids that like things-that-go.” Sally has some other great hike ideas too.
Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, Oakland Hills
Reinhardt Regional Redwood Park is a real favorite for local parents and offers so much for toddlers: Give a DIY Botany Hike a try with your little one; search for salamanders and ladybugs colonies; or check out the playground area near some easy-to-walk trails perfect for toddlers. Canyon Meadow staging area is a great place to start, and our Facebook Group highly recommends the Steam Trail as ideal for little legs (it leads to the playground).
Find more Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park hikes for families here >
Roberts Regional Recreation Area, Oakland Hills
At the Roberts Regional Park entrance, there’s a fabulous play structure, wide trails, and lovely redwood groves that make this a magical option for you and your little ones. Parking is $5. You can find another redwood grove by entering the park at the Redwood Gate entrance, two miles east of Skyline Boulevard on Redwood Road. Park your car in the parking area and stroll with your toddler along easy and flat Stream Trail through the shady canyon.
3 Super Berkeley Hikes for Toddlers
Aquatic Park along the water, Berkeley to Emeryville
There is a nice flat paved path from Berkeley’s Dream Land playground to Emeryville (or you can do the entire 2.3-mile loop around the lagoon). Toddlers will love the ducks and geese, trains speeding by, frisbee players, and the playground. Just be aware that there are cyclists and people walking dogs pretty regularly.
Jewel Lake at Tilden Park, Berkeley
A favorite among families with little kids, the flat pathway from the Little Farm parking lot to Jewel Lake is perfect for toddlers. You can do the entire loop (1.3 miles), though if you have a stroller you’ll just want to stick to an out and back on the flat part of the trail. Bonus: feed the goats at Little Farm and play at the toddler playground before going home for naptime. Pro Tip: the Jewel Lake path doesn’t allow dogs, so it’s great for dog-shy toddlers.
Park by Adventure Playground for free and walk along the paved flat pathway for an easy walk by the Bay. Stop and visit Shorebird Park, or walk down to the little beach to find sea glass and crabs. It can get windy too, so bring a kite if you’d like (or head on over to Cesar Chavez Park for some serious wind).
Read more about Adventure Playground and Shorebird Park >
Alameda Favorite Toddler Hikes
Fairy Door Hunt by the waterfront
This is an adorable hike you can do with your toddler that is flat and exciting for everyone. Julia went with her girls and tells us that” the trek is just under 2 miles one-way, so if you have little children and want to see the full alphabet, come prepared with a stroller, water, hats, all the snacks and dressed in layers because it’s breezy by the water. You can also break it up over a few different days; we saw older children with bikes and scooters.”
Read more about how to go about your own Fairy Door Hunt in Alameda here >
3 Fun Richmond Hikes for Toddlers
Fairy-Spotting Hike, Point Richmond
This fairy discovery walk is an adorable little hike for your toddler. While not in nature, it’ll invigorate your toddler’s imagination and is 100% stroller accessible. The magical fairy houses that make up Little Point Richmond of Washington Avenue are so intricate and well done that your toddler’s enthusiasm for walking up the hill will last much longer than you’d think possible. There’s also a little park, Janice Playlot, at Washington & Nicholl Ave perfect for toddlers.
Read more about the Fairy Hike in Point Richmond >
Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline, Richmond
This hike is a super fun option for you and your toddler because there are playgrounds, flat paved paths, a pond, birds, and beautiful views of the Bay. It’s just through the tunnel in Point Richmond and parking is easy either in the parking lot or along Dornan Drive. It’s also a fabulous place to fly a kite, and you could also stop at Keller Beach if the mood strikes.
Read more about kid-friendly places in Point Richmond >
Point Pinole, Richmond
There’s a small hill up from the parking lot at Richmond’s Point Pinole, but otherwise, the pathway is flat and very toddler-friendly. Point Pinole is stroller-friendly and there’s a cute little wooden playground that your toddler will enjoy. Bonus: toddlers will love watching trains speed by under the bridge just up from the parking lot.
Read more about Point Pinole with kids >
What are your favorite toddler-friendly hikes? Share them in the comments!