I suppose there's a reason why the authors of "Best Hikes for Children: San Francisco Bay Area" wanted my family to trudge along an exhaust-filled, traffic-choked roadway, but damned if I can figure it out. I'm looking forward to hiking the 90 trails in this book, but I hope the rest aren't like this one.
We had actually planned to hike No. 85, the Redwood Grove Trail Loop in Muir Woods on Sunday, but Sunday was Mother's Day, which meant I got to sleep in, which meant we didn't get over Golden Gate Bridge until 11 a.m. Apparently half of northern California also wanted to hike Muir Woods on Mother's Day, because the closest parking spot was a half-mile away along a winding road with narrow shoulders. Not the hiking ideal.
So we at a picnic lunch in the car and then found a nice little trail that wound around the hills and revealed great views of Sausalito and the Bay, But the hot sun was beating down on us, so we decided to try something with a little more shade — say, No. 86, the Corte Madera Ecological Reserve Trail, just a short drive away.
I should've guessed this wouldn't be a happy stroll through Marin County flora and fauna when I saw that this particular hike began at the parking lot of Larkspur's ferry terminal. "Head east on the path toward Remaillard Park," I read out loud to Ron as we stood in the nearly deserted lot.
"What, along the road?" Ron asked, pointing to the traffic whizzing by at 50 mph. That made no sense, so we piled back into the car and drove to Remaillard Park instead, where the book promised a duck pond restored by the Marin Audobon Society.
I suppose it's a very nifty pond for ducks and turtles and frogs, but we could see very little through the reeds as we circled the pond on a dirt path. Ron hoisted Benny on his shoulders so he could see the three lonely ducks huddled near a log.
"The book says we can go back to the terminal parking lot and walk to the ecological reserve," I said hopefully.
"What's there?" Ron asked.
Good question. The book said to climb stairs to an overpass, follow another busy road and turn left under the freeway. Included in the hike's description was a picture with the cheery caption: "The freeway is only a stone's throw from this catwalk."
I shut the book and tucked it into my backpack. "Never mind," I said. "Let's go home and eat cookies."