15 Easy East Bay bike trails for kids

15 Easy East Bay bike trails for kids – Lafayette Reservoir to Fremont’s Coyote Hills

Bring the kids – and your bikes – to East Bay parks
Enjoy the newly constructed segment  of the SF Bay Trail between Gilman Street in Berkeley and Buchanan Street/Albany Beach in Albany. (Photo by Cali Godley courtesy East Bay Regional Park District)

A reader whose 6-year-old daughter just learned to ride a bicycle asked me for a list of easy, flat, paved bicycle paths in regional parks that young children could enjoy safely.

There are lots of options, district-wide:

Big Break Regional Shoreline. The park entrance is on Big Break Road off Main Street in Oakley. From the parking lot, it’s a flat, scenic 2.44-mile ride on a paved trail east to the Marsh Creek Regional Trail, which is also a great ride. When the pandemic is over, the Big Break Visitor Center will reopen, and it’s well worth a visit, too.

Contra Costa Canal Regional Trail. This paved trail follows the canal from the Highway 4 frontage road in Martinez all the way to Willow Pass Road in Concord, with multiple access points. Most of it is flat; there are nice, shady stretches in Martinez, Pleasant Hill and elsewhere along the way.

Iron Horse Regional Trail. Extends for more than 30 miles down the Diablo and San Ramon valleys between Concord and Pleasanton, again with multiple access points. You can plan as long or short a trip as you wish.

George Miller Regional Trail. A scenic two-miler between Martinez and Port Costa. Roadside parking on Carquinez Scenic Drive at the east end; a parking lot on the Port Costa side. Great views of Carquinez Strait and Benicia. Mostly flat.

Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail. About seven miles, from Olympic Boulevard in Lafayette to Canyon Road in Moraga. Many access points.

Lafayette Reservoir. Bicyclists and people on roller skates, roller blades and scooters are allowed noon-closing on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from opening to 11 a.m. Sundays on the paved Lakeside Trail and roads. The entrance is on Mt. Diablo Boulevard west of downtown Lafayette. Fee parking at the lot atop the dam.

Nimitz Way, Tilden Regional Park. The first mile is flat, heading north from Inspiration Point on Wildcat Canyon Road in Berkeley. At Mile One, there’s a hundred yards of downhill. Of course, what goes down must come back up. Can be crowded.

Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. Park at the entrance on the Giant Highway. The paved road from the parking lot leads across a bridge, into the park and 1.5 miles out to the fishing pier. Cooling bay breezes on a hot day.

Richmond Marina. Lots of flat trails for bicycles at the end of South Harbor Way around the Craneway building.

San Francisco Bay Trail. Park at the end of Buchanan Street in Albany. From there, a new section of the trail heads south toward Berkeley. There’s a long gradual hill in a short distance; parents with younger kids can turn back and enjoy the beach.

Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park. From Canyon Meadows Staging Area, accessed via the Redwood Road entrance in Oakland, the Stream Trail is paved and open to bicycles for about a mile through the redwood groves. After that, the pavement ends and bicycles are not allowed. But it’s a beautiful, easy ride through the trees.

Lake Chabot Regional Park. From near the marina on Lake Chabot Road in Castro Valley, both the East Shore and West Shore Trails are paved for a couple of miles. Some short hills.

Alameda Creek Regional Trail. It’s flat and the south side is paved, from Niles all the way to Coyote Hills Regional Park.

Coyote Hills Regional Park. At the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont. Check out the paved Bayview Trail, which circles the hills.

Trails may be crowded

These flat, paved trails can be crowded, especially on weekends. The speed limit for bicycles is 15 mph. State law requires that all bicycle riders 17 and under wear helmets, and the park district recommends that everyone do so.

Please advise other trail users by voice or bell when you are overtaking them from behind, so they know you are there. You are unlikely to encounter equestrians on paved interpark trails, but they have the right of way.

Because of the pandemic, please have face coverings available to wear when social distancing is not possible.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. For more information, including maps, visit the park district website at ebparks.org. Check out “Parks,” “Parks & Trails,” “Interpark Regional Trails” and “Bicycle Loop Trails.”

Ned MacKay writes a regular column about East Bay Regional Park District sites and activities. Email him at nedmackay@comcast.net.