Once upon a time you spent your weekends climbing and camping. Then you got saddled with a baby. We asked local adventurer and mom Laure Latham, author of Best Hikes with Kids: San Francisco Bay Area, for family-friendly destinations that are perfect for trekking with a brood.
A Water-full Walk
The Hike: The Waterfall Loop Trail at Uvas Canyon County Park.
The 411: A 3-mile loop through a narrow canyon on the western side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Traverse a mile-long, moderately graded fire road that overlooks a creek, continue up the canyon, and zip down the roller coaster terrain of Contour Trail. Return to your starting point via a left on Alec Canyon Trail.
Best Part: The three waterfalls that are right off the main path.
Don’t Forget: Snacks and your dog.
A Tarantula Trek
The Hike: Mount Diablo’s Mitchell Canyon trailhead — with a docent or on your own.
The 411: An uphill, 2.2-mile quest for the giant (and gentle unless provoked) spiders via Black Point and Globe Lily trails. On Globe Lily, look for spider burrows and their hairy, creepy-crawly inhabitants. Return by lefts onto Red Road and Mitchell Canyon Fire Road.
Best Parts: Spooky fun without candy, bathrooms at the trailhead.
Don’t Forget: Your camera.
A Little House on the Prairie
The Hike: Ardenwood Historic Farm loop.
The 411: Perfect for beginning walkers or tots in strollers, the flat, 1-mile loop circles a working Victorian farm. Divert them with horse-drawn trains, an outdoor kitchen, walnut orchards, and farm animals.
Best Parts: Spotting the resident peacocks and making your own refreshments at the old-fashioned apple press (when available).
Don’t Forget: Your stroller.
Laure Latham’s Best Hikes with Kids: San Francisco Bay Area is available at The Warming Hut Bookstore & Cafe, Presidio Building 983, Marine Drive, at Long Avenue (415-561-3040); REI San Francisco, 840 Brannan Street (415-934-1938 or rei.com); online at mountaineersbooks.org, $20.
Mill Valley Children’s Film Fest
What: Ten days of circus dream-themed features and shorts, with a party and jazz band costume parade.
Why: Come one, come all.
When: Thurs.-Oct. 16.
Where: Locations online at mvff.com. For tickets, go to mvff2011.inticketing.com. $10 per film, $25 for four.
What: Drums, smiles, and tunes for all ages at a free outdoor concert just for fams.
Why: Get your beat on.
When: Sat., 3-3:30 p.m.
Where: Ortega Branch Library, 3223 Ortega St., b/t 39th & 40th Sts. (415-557-4353).
Leap’s 28th Annual Sand Castle Contest
What: Wee builders reinvent Ocean Beach with ginormous grainy creatures and structures.
Why: Proceeds benefit Leap, an organization that brings art to public schools.
When: Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Great Hwy. Admission is free.
Photo: Courtesy of Laure Latham