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If your family is like mine, you like to get outside and explore all of the amazing natural wonders in our beautiful state. And with the summer heat just around the corner, I thought I would share 5 ways our family loves to get outside and beat the summer heat in Northern California!
Of course there’s the obvious: go to the beach. But here are some not-so-obvious activities to get you outside!
This is not a “beautiful photography” post — all of these images were just taken with my iphone 7. I often think I should bring my “real camera” to capture amazing shots of my kids doing adventurous things, but the reality is….I just don’t get it out when I bring it. I want to be enjoying our activity instead. So bear with the bad photography. If you do any of these activities, I would love to know! Tag me on IG!
We discovered this popular hike a couple of years ago and can’t wait to go back! No matter how hot it is outside, it is nice and cool inside this cave (and the water is COLD!). Here are a couple of tips for visiting Natural Bridges:
• Go on a weekday — I’ve heard it gets very crowded on weekends. The parking lot is not huge and there really is no where else to park except in that parking lot.
• Bring an inner tube. The river goes all the way through the cave (which is really cool!) but it’s kind of deep (and again COLD!) in the middle.
•Be alert for poison oak — it was abundant on the trail! (We brought a battery-operated inflation device to blow up our inner tubes once we got down to the cave. You could easily carry your inner tubes along the hike, but you may rub against that poison oak!
• There are two sides to the cave — they are both worth checking out! We went to the less-crowded side that was just a little bit further down the trail. (It took us a little bit of searching around to find where it led down to the water, but so worth it!).
For more information on hiking to Natural Bridges click here.
This place is AMAZING!! The picture does not do it justice. The trailhead to the Potholes is across Hwy 88 from Silver Lake (just a few miles before Kirkwood Ski Resort). A short hike from the trailhead will take you to this incredible granite landscape with…well… holes created from the river. It makes the perfect spot to sit and cool off! My kids also enjoyed sliding down the slick granite like a slide!
Some tips for visiting Pot Holes:
• Summer weekends get busy so if you don’t want to deal with crowds, go early or go on a week day.
• There is a small turnout off Hwy 88 where you may be able to park (but it’s only big enough for a couple of cars) so you may need to find a spot on the road just up from the trailhead, or park at the Silver Lake Parking lot and cross the street. (Silver Lake parking lot is also prone to filling up on the weekends).
•Wear some shoes that are great for hiking and getting in the water (like Keens or Astrals).
For more information on hiking to the Pot Holes, click here.
We do this several times every summer. You can float on a kayak or inner tubes!
Tips for floating the Mokelumne:
• Have two drivers and shuttle your cars. We leave one car at Stillman Magee Park in Clements and then we launch at the Mokelumne River Day Use area by the Fish hatchery a few miles upstream. There is a parking fee at Stillman Magee.
• Keep an eye open for rope swings along the river! (The one pictured was not too far from where we put in and it was on the right side of the river).
PRO TIP: When you get off the river, grab a milkshake or freeze at W Burger on Hwy 12! (Our favorite is the Orange Freeze!)
We discovered these awesome train tunnels several years ago (in fact, if you are driving east on I-80, you can see them in the mountains above Donner Lake!). Even when it’s hot outside, the train tunnels are nice and cool!
Tips for visiting the Train Tunnels:
• To enter the Train Tunnels, park in the big dirt parking area by Sugar Bowl Ski Resort.
• We biked through them — I would recommend walking instead. There is a lot of deep gravel and it makes it very tiring (especially for kids) to bike it!
• Take advantage of the breaks in the tunnels to see the amazing views of the sierra and Donner Lake!
For more information on the Donner Train Tunnels, click here.
One way to beat the Valley heat is to just go to San Francisco — anywhere in San Francisco! Last summer we rode our bikes from the Marina district, across the Golden Gate Bridge (our intention was to ride into Sausalito and take the ferry back to SF but because of Covid, the ferries were not running).
Not only did we beat the heat, but my kids were freezing (see image above haha). I promise it really was a fun trip, but the wind on the bridge is FIERCE!
PRO TIP: Make a detour at Ghirardelli Square and get an ice cream sundae!
This is a bonus tip because I stayed at the lower emerald pools with my Sister-in-law and the younger kids while my brother took the teenagers to the upper pools to cliff jump. If you go to Emerald Pools you will definitely want some sturdy shoes that you can climb over the rocks and wear while jumping in the water. And if you’re lucky, you may see some Slackliners!
For more information on the Emerald Pools, click here.
I hope these tips are useful! I would love to know your favorite ways to beat the heat outdoors! We are always looking for new adventures! And if you do any of these, I would love to know! Send me a picture, or tag me on IG! Here’s to a summer full of adventures!
July 20, 2020
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