Hoping to get the kids interested in hiking and the outdoors, but hesitant to drag them along on a difficult, daylong trek? A great way to introduce the joys of hiking to the kids is to spend some time at Junipero Serra County Park in San Bruno.
The park is large, with 106 acres parsed into hiking trails and recreation areas. Formerly a part of the extensive Rancho Buri Buri, it was purchased for use as a park by San Mateo County in 1956.
Now it sits between the 101 and 280 freeways, completely surrounded by the neighborhoods of San Bruno and Millbrae. Not exactly “getting away from it all”, but definitely convenient for Peninsula residents wanting to get outside to enjoy some fine summer weather.
While it’s more ideal for picnickers than serious hikers, it’s perfect for families. There are several easy, kid-friendly trails, plus playground equipment and even a volleyball court. For those not interested in activity, there are even plenty of benches on which to simply sit and take in the views.
An unobstructed view of San Francisco International Airport from the park is a treat for plane watchers. As a South City resident, I’m very familiar with the sights and sounds of the airport, but I still find Junipero Serra Park a unique place to watch the perfect choreography of take-offs and landings.
The Meadow View Picnic Area is a great place to check out the airport and catch the expansive views of the San Francisco Bay across to the East Bay and Mt. Diablo. Next to the meadow is one of the two excellent playgrounds located within the park, this one featuring an amazing 54-foot side-by-side slide that sits flush to the hillside.
Junipero Serra Park offers several easy hiking trails. A great introduction to nature hikes for kids is the Quail Loop Trail, which takes you all around the park grounds for a nice display of native Bay Area trees and plants.
All of the park trails wind through a shady mix of both native trees such as the Coast Live Oak, Madrone and California Laurels, plus non-native species like the ubiquitous Eucalyptus. Along the way, you’re also likely to spot birds such as Scrub Jays, Spotted Towhees, and even an occasional Turkey Vulture.
In the spring, you can view a terrific display of wild flowers along the trails. But all year long it’s a nice place to take advantage of the trails and the views, and to spend the day with family in the beautiful Bay Area outdoors.