I have always enjoyed the outdoors and as a child I used to spend my weekends claiming mountains and exploring the local parks of the Andes of South America.
After moving to the United States, I was always looking for chances to see the wonders of nature and in my search for work I made my way across the country by car twice, visiting over 15 National Parks along the way. Despite long hours of driving, I was never disappointed. Every time we stopped at a National Park, we were overwhelmed with the most beautiful scenes I have ever imagined. The wonders of nature were so large in scale and beauty that I could hardly believe I had never heard of them before. After settling in California, I made it my mission to take my children to parks as often as we were able to accommodate it. Ever since they were young, they have learned to love camping under the redwoods and swimming in the alpine lakes of the Sierras. Our interest took us to National Parks, Forest Service campsites, State Parks and even locally to our wonderful East Bay Regional Park System. In my opinion, California gives us amazing opportunities to explore the outdoors, and we should never postpone the opportunity to expose our children to the healing powers of nature.
Much has been said about the beneficial effects of nature to improve our immune systems, reduce stress, increase school and work productivity, and reconnect us with ourselves and with others. In some countries “Nature” is being prescribed as part of medical treatments for multiple psychological and health issues. A prescription of an hour dose of nature a day is prescribed to kids suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder in some European countries. Some early education schools in Northern Europe have even assumed a model were students are outdoors all day, regardless of the weather, to stimulate the children’s minds and immune systems. In comparison, our local children have little opportunity to explore nature and spend most of their time indoors, which results in our children feeling disconnected from nature.
Today, as we help celebrate 100 years of the National Park System, I want to suggest a pledge for 2016. Let us self-prescribe a minimum of four hours a week outdoors. During those hours, we will be unplugged from our devices and reconnect with our friends, family and nature.
To help you fulfill your pledge I want to suggest a few local outdoor activities and destinations that will make great adventures for kids and adults alike.
- Best place to explore a creek around Richmond:
- Best place for a family picnic and hike by the beach around Richmond:
Point Molate Beach
- Best place to bike with kids and run with a stroller around Richmond:
Point Pinole Regional Shoreline
- Best Coastal Views Hike around the Bay Area:
Muir Beach to Tennessee Valley Trail
- Best Hike in the woods:
Muir Woods, upper trails
- Best view of the Golden Gate Bridge:
Cavallo Point and surrounding trails
- Best East Bay Redwood hike:
Stream Trail in Redwood Regional Park
- Best place to camp in the Coast without a reservation:
- Best hike in the Alpine Meadows:
Yosemite White Wolf to Lukens Lake
- Best place to camp next to quiet lake
- Best place to camp with a large school group:
Gillespie Family campground
- Best place to go snowshoeing or adventuring in the snow:
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Happy outdoors play in 2016!