East Bay

Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park

A beautiful afternoon hiking with my family is one of my favorite things to do. On this hike we attempted to hike almost seven miles but with a late start and the days still being a little short we hiked 5.2 miles at 

Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park.

  It was an absolutely beautiful day and the hills were beckoning.  We parked at the Foothill Staging Area and successfully transferred my sleeping daughter, Sophia into my front carrier and headed up multiple switch backs on Woodland Trail.  The cows were definitely out and about along the trails.

My son, David was a little terrified of the cows so he climbed up on 

+Jesse Avery

 shoulders and so began the sweaty, sweaty uphill hike carrying our toddlers to the ridge.  At some point Sophia woke up and was DELIGHTED to see the cows so close to ups.  Even with her sleepy eyes she fought through her sleep to say, "Mommy, moo, moo!"

A view from the Woodland Trail after completing the switchbacks during our little break.  This was my third and

+Jesse Avery

 second Trails Challenge hike but we were not sure if were could complete all seven miles before sunset.

We finally made it to the Ridgeline Trail and the views were absolutely magnificent.  Mission Peak and Sunol Regional Parks are in the background.  A hiker stopped and thanked us for hiking with our children and not taking them to the mall.  That made me smile and said thank you and told him our children were made for the outdoors.

Sophia REALLY loves dirt, I mean really loves dirt and tutus.

Making dirt angels, she was swimming on the ground.

That's my hiking toddler, loving the dirt and the earth that we came from.

Hiking through the beautfiul Olive Grove on Ridgeline Trail.  I loved the rolling hill type trails, those are my favorites and easiest on my children.  David really liked checking the map to make sure we were on the right path and not lost.  He's wearing daddy's explorer hat that we got in 2009 to our trip to Machu Picchu.  Now my three old son wears it when we hike.

I love this picture at marker #16 on Ridgeline Trail.  David loves running down hills, he loves anything that goes fast so running down a hill is a controlled fun fall.  He looks so free and he face is full of extreme joy when he runs, especially towards one of his favorite people in the world, his dad.  We took a a break at the trail marker and calculated that we weren't going to be able to complete the entire seven mile hike so we decided to head on back on Thermalito Trail after a break.

The kids found a tiny patch of loose dirt and played in the dirt the entire break.  I noticed how quiet it was when the kids stopped making noise for 10 seconds.  It was wonderful.  Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom is difficult and all I want is silence for a few minutes and I got my silence while being surrounded in God's creation and my family.  Those are the moments I cherish.

Daddy and daughter hiking on Thermalito Trail.

It is difficult to hike with children especially toddlers but it truly makes me appreciate the small things, like this lady bug.  My kids love water....creeks, lakes, a puddle you name it.  All along Thermalito Trail there were three muddy ponds and of course we had to stop at each one so the kids can throw rocks in the ponds.  While I was waiting for the kids, I saw this little ladybug and loved how red it was.  Thanks David and Sophia for helping me love the little things.

We continued onto the third pond which was pretty much muddy shallow water with ducks sitting in it.  I'm not completely sure but I think we were on Olive Grove Trail at this point, the kids were getting pretty tired by this point.  I kept distracting David with all the ground squirrels running in the hillside to keep him moving along.  Jesse came across a dead frog in the ground which also motivated David to run down the hill to see it.

The sun was setting off in distance and this was the last picture I took because we had to carry each kid on our shoulders.  Sophia plopped herself in the same dirt angel that she made earlier and I tried to scare her into hiking by hiding from her on the trail but she wasn't scared she just played in the dirt.  A mountain biker saw me hiding and gave me a funny look and I said, "I'm trying to make her hike" and he just smiled.  I loaded Sophia up on my shoulders and Jesse had already hiked down to the gate near trail marker 10 and the boys were waiting for us.

It was a really beautiful hike, serene rolling green hills, not a lot a people around and of course being with my family.

Our GPS Garmin ran out of power before we finished hiking so our hiking stats are a little off.  For a more complete trail you can check out my 

Strava Link.

 but we hiked 5.2 miles a 1,000 ft elevation change

Woodland Trail - Ridgeline Trail - Thermalito Trail - Olive Grove Trail - Woodland Trail

Happy Hiking!

2013 Trails Challenge Hike - Coyote Hills

Last weekend we did not have a chance to go hike, so by Monday morning my kids were a little too energetic for this stay-at-home-mom.  I had been contemplating for the past couple of weeks to go hiking alone with my toddlers (three and one year old) because sometimes the children's parks and neighborhood walks are not enough for my kids.

I decided to "bite the bullet" and take my kids, David and Sophia, to 

Coyote Hills Regional Park

 and might as well complete my first hike of 

2013 Trails Challenge

 of the 

East Bay Regional Parks District

.  I decided to do one of the hikes marked as "Easy-2.5 miles" since I've never been hiking alone with my kids.  It took me almost all morning to get ready, tummies needed to be filled before we left and as well as preparing lunch for the hike.  One of the many important things, I have learned as a parent is it takes a really long time to leave to go anywhere, so if I can mentally prepare myself for it then preparation time is not stressful.

The drive into Coyote Hills was beautiful, the hills were green, skies were blue and a beautiful field of yellow flowers filled the street that turned down to Coyote Hills entrance.  I wanted to stop and take pictures but Sophia looked a little sleepy and I wanted to start hiking before she fell asleep.  An eternity to pack up to get out of the house also leads to an eternity to get out of the car to start hiking.  I wanted to pick up our Trails Challenge T-Shirts but I did not know that Coyote Hills Visitor Center was closed on Monday's.

We started our hike as listed on the Trails Challenge on Bayview Trail near the Visitors Center, but did the trail in reverse order.  I brought our double jogging stroller just in case the kids got tired but after this hike I will no longer bring it along, my kids are hikers not sitters.

Sophia taking the view of the Main Marsh and Mission Peak in the background.  We hiked along Bayview Trails towards Lizard Rock Trail but on the 0.17 miles there Sophia got cranky, wanted to be carried and David wanted a snack.  I convinced my kids to sit in the stroller with some banana chips, one of their favorite snacks. 

A view of the North Mash and in the very far off distance in the Hayward hills is California State University Hayward, (my alma mater) now CSU East Bay.  There are two Lizard Rock trails one for hikers only and the other for hikers and bikers.  Is a jogging stroller considered a bike? Either way I just followed the tire marks in the trail and took the wider Lizard Rock Trail.

Sometimes I can not believe I'm a mother of these two beautiful kids.  I truly love them so much.  I saw this beautiful big tree on Lizard Rock Trail and and to plop them right in front of it for a picture. The trail was bumpy so the kids really enjoyed all the jostling and it made them down right sleepy.  We headed down towards the Main Marsh again where I found something new that caught my eye. 

Granted this is our second year doing the Trails Challenge but it was nice to see the trail markers marked as part of the trails challenge.  Bright green to catch my eye!

Tried to take a picture of myself with my kids but they can never sit still, so here's a solo one of myself.  The Visitor Center is to the left of the picture with the Main Marsh right behind me.  We made a quick right onto Muskrat Trail where we spent a very long time.  The kids saw the marsh that followed along the D.U.S.T. Trail and both screamed "Me Stuck!! Out!!"  A fellow hiker told me there were large fish in the water and the kids excitement went through the roof.

We sat there near the marsh as Sophia "threw rocks" into the marsh, lets just say the rocks never made it to the water.  That morning David had watched "Go, Diego Go" and watched Diego save a whale, therefore he asked me to see the whales and I told him maybe we could see the Bay (the ocean) and see some animals.  David was determined to see a whale.  The imagination and hope of a three year old is quite refreshing sometimes.

As we sat by the marsh all of a sudden five large fish started splashing just underneath the surface of the water.  The kids didn't know what to make of it and I explained that the fishes were swimming, but a few minutes later one large fish literally jumped out of the water three times in a row right in front of us.  David nearly died of excitement, I've never heard him squeal so much before.  It almost brings tears to my eyes remembering his face and him squealing, "Mommy a BIG fish, it's a whale!!"  Sophia also saw the fish and was more scared than anything else, she needed a big hug.

After the excitement of the "whale" subsided, David wanted to move on but Miss Sophia could sit near the marsh all day long so I convinced to sit in the stroller for five minutes with some cheese sticks.  Down Muskrat Trail towards Chochenyo Trail, where the cotton tail plants were as tall as I am, five feet tall.

There were "fuzzies" floating in the air from the cotton tails and some other flowering plant, which looked like snowflakes drifting.  David comes to the realization that it's "snowing" and Sophia starts babbling, "snow, snow, snow..." Who am I to burst their bubble and agree that it's snowing in 70 degree weather in Fremont.  Mother's love.

Sophia was being silly, she does not have the energy level as our son so she took a break by laying down in the trail, face in the ground on Chochenyo Trail.  Everyone wanted a little break so I decided to break out the good stuff, Trader Joe's Salami, some more cheese, cherry tomatoes and banana chips.

David taking a break and apparently sunning himself on the trail.  After lunch time we made it down to the end of the trail at the far end of this picture above.  Sophia got really cranky by this point so I put her in my baby sling and tried to convinced David to get in the stroller.  It was so obvious that David was really tired but every time I asked if he wanted to sit down he would say, "No, Mommy.  I walk."

This is when I decided that I would no longer take our jogging stroller on hikes.  It was absolutely useless, David sat in it for 10 minutes and Sophia an additional 5 minutes.  The rest of the time they hiked and I really realized that my babies are outdoor kids.  Hence we nickname Sophia "Mountain Baby" last summer after we visited 

Highland Lakes in Northern California


Sophia quickly fell asleep in my sling and David and I continued onto Tuibun Trail which turned into Bayview Trail which followed along the Main Marsh.  I didn't bring any chocolate on this hike so I  bribed him to keep hiking with the promise of chocolate when we got home.  It was a very fun hike and more importantly the kids had a blast and burned some energy.


My GPS Garmin had a little difficulty but we were not 250 feet below sea level.  We hike 2.6 miles or an average 1.8 mph in 3 hours.  Hiking with little ones is really slow.

Hardly any elevation change, started at sea level and barely reach 50 ft elevation.

My first "alone" hike with the kids!

Bayview - Lizard Rock - Chochenyo - Muskrat - Chochenyo - Tuibun - Bayview

Happy Hiking!

New Year's Day Hike: Garin Dry Creek

On New Years Day, we wanted to start 2013 the right way with a hike! We met up with our good friend Nate and headed up to Garin Dry Creek Regional Park. Nate had never been there so I'm always excited to introduce people to new places and we were going to explore a part of the park we've never been too.

It was an absolutely beautiful chilly day! It seemed like an eternity to start hiking after we parked. We had to pack everything into the backpacks, jackets, snacks, diapers, wipes, extra clothes etc. That is one thing I have read in multiple books about hiking with children is to always carry jackets, change of clothes and snacks for toddlers. You never want to have a cold, hungry, wet toddler on a hike.

Last time we visited Garin Dry Creek we hiked one of the listed hikes on the 2012 Trails Challenge from the East Park Regional Parks District. This time we wanted to do a "short" hike (anything with toddlers should be short) to Newt Pond Wildlife Area and a small loop around Vista Peak Loop Trail.

We started out slowly walking from the parking lot towards Old Homestead Trail and Arroyo Flats.  My daughter, Sophia, was determined to hike herself, and my son, David, wanted to get in the carrier but we wanted him to hike.  After 15 minutes of trying to get out of the parking lot (there were lots of cute dogs to see) we finally started on Old Homestead Trail.  Right away I noticed the creeks had water and across the creel there was a horse rider with a pony following.  Kind of reminded me that a mom is a mom whether you are a human or a horse! Ha! Made me smile a bit.

Even before we hit the field of cows, we could hear him loud and clear which excited the children of course. By this point my husband, Jesse, was carrying Sophia and David hurried along to see the cows.  We reached the gates were we encountered two horse riders, Sophia screamed gleefully.  David somehow missed to see the horses until they were right in his face which frightened him a little bit.  Then we walked through a field of cows in really close proximity, I'm not a fan.

This is where we went me made a little mistake we should have continued on Old Homestead Trail to reach the actual Newt Pond.  We didn't have a map so we continued on New Pond Trail thinking it would lead to Newt Pond.  I was a  little confused where the trail actually was because everything was green from the recent rain.  I'm so used to seeing the hills golden brown with dry trails.

We had to cross Dry Creek, which wasn't really dry! Jesse and Nate hopped across the creek but I'm not as sure-footed as they are so Jesse threw some stepping stones for me.  It was pretty to see water flowing.

Going up, up, up on Newt Pond Trail. Jesse, followed by David and Nate!

My little hiker!! It was very pretty in the hills.  This uphill hike really took it out of David and a little after this both kids climbed into our carriers.

Jesse carried Sophia and her backpack.  All my hiking literature says that expect to carry anything your kid wants to "carry" themselves.

Oh Newt Pond Trail, you did not lead us to Newt Pond.  There was a very slight uphill to the ridge where I thought Newt Pond was so I kept telling my son and myself that the pond is just over the little hill, but it wasn't. In fact we were on High Ridge Trail and didn't know for a while.  I finally had cell service so I Googled our location and we were way past Newt Pond.  I informed my the rest of the hikers and we had a laugh.

We decided to hike to Meyers Ranch Trail and take a break for lunch there.  It was quite windy and chilly up at the ridge.  We quickly had our "lunch" which consisted of delicious Salami, trail mix, cheese and Goldfish crackers.  Sophia was asleep by this point and David didn't want to get out of his carrier so continued down Meyers Ranch Trail.

This is a view coming down Meyers Ranch Trail, I absolutely love the green rolling hills.  Garin Dry Creek is quickly becoming one of my favorite local places.  The rest of the hike was mostly down hill until we reach Dry Creek Trail which followed the actual Dry Creek which had lots of water and skinny bridges.  My kids really loved the bridges, it was great motivation to get David hiking instead of being in his carrier.  Dry Creek Trail led us back to Jordan Pond and back to the Parking lot.

Hiking Data is as follows....

3.9 Miles in 3 hours 40 minutes, seems so slow but it that's how it is with little ones.

About 1,000 ft in Elevation Change, Jesse likes to secretly pick trails with switchbacks.

Our hiking trails for this hike was: Old Homestead Trail - Newt Pond Trail - High Ridge Loop Trail - Meyers Ranch Trail - Dry Creek Trail for a total of 3.9 Miles.

A Hike Before the Rain...

We finally got to hike yesterday after weeks of not hiking caused by back to back sickness with the kids and myself.  We visited our local, 

Coyote Hills Regional Park

.  It's our go to park, something close and quick to get the toddlers out hiking.

It was a quite chilly day, so we bundled up and started our slowest hike ever.  I really don't know why we hiked so slowly but we were walking at my 15 month old daughters pace.

We visited the Visitors Center before we started our hike, which is quite nice and the Butterfly Garden, which I have never seen before.  My son loved riding the turtle in the Butterfly Garden!

We decided to use our double jogging stroller to save our backs from 20-35 lbs of toddlers.  When our children see their carriers they want to be carried more than if they see their stroller.  We started hiking after we visited the Visitor Center up towards the Hoot Hollow picnic area on Quail Trail.  It had been raining a few days and weeks before, so everything was wet and a bright green which was lovely.

It had taken us already 30 minutes to get to Hoot Hollow, so we stopped and had a little picnic there, Salami and Trail Mix.  My son hardly eats anything, it's very frustrating, but he will eat salami and trail mix.  At least I know he won't go hungry during a hike.

Nothing too extraordinary about this hike.  We took Quail Trail - Soaproot Trail - Red Hill Trail - Bay View Trail back to the Visitor Center Parking.  It was a cloudy day but the sun would pop out every once in a while.

There were birds galore at the South Marsh that was swollen from all the recent rain.  My son was excited to hear so many ducks quacking.

South Marsh

 My daughter was determined to hike and pick up every rock that she saw, hence our slowest hike ever.

My son and I being silly around the tree.  It was a truly beautiful chilly day, my favorite type of day.


HIKING TRAIL : 2.0 Miles


One last picture, in my attempt to be artistic I took a picture of a lonely mushroom.

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Thanksgiving Hikes - Hayward Regional Shoreline

The second hike we did over the Thanksgiving weekend was

Hayward Regional Shoreline

.  This hike was #4 hike of the

2012 Trails Challenge

.  We only have one more hike to go before December 1st.  I hope we can do it!

At the beginning of the hike was a little disappointing, because the view was of dried salt marshes, a landfill and a factory in the background.  The scenery got better as the hike went along.

On flat trails we've decided to take the jogging stroller and let the kids walk, for two reasons. One, they are really heavy and if they see the carriers they want to be carried and not walk.  Two, we want them to start training to actually hike so we can go backpacking next spring and in Argentina in late 2013.  Our son was being silly, tried to catch a ride on the stroller.

San Francisco Skyline is in the background, from Hayward Shoreline.  The shoreline used to harvest salt, but the restored it to its natural state. There were so many birds, flying right above the water like in Jurassic Park.

The tide coming in.  Our son enjoyed throwing rocks off of this bridge into the water.  Our daughter wanted out of the stroller but the bridge railings had big enough gaps that she could fall through, so she stayed strapped in her stroller.

My son, you know he used to be a baby model.

The only bird I could catch on my iPhone, it ducked underwater right before I took this picture or else it would have come out closer to me.  There were so many birds there.  It was very pretty to see.

Hayward Regional Shoreline Sunset.  So pretty!! I haven't downloaded our hiking statistics yet, so that will be coming up soon.  I think we hiked about 5.4 miles.  My husband and I sprinted most of the way back.  I was pushing the stroller and my husband ran with our son on his shoulders.  The kids were a little tired by then, but they enjoyed it thoroughly.

Related Post and Links:

  1. Trails Challenge 2012
  2. Thanksgiving Weekend Hikes - Don Edwards
  3. This Hiking Mama is Thankful For...

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