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It’s time to start planning warmer weather outings with our little ones.

If the amount of acacia pollen on our car is any indication, spring is in the air. As we emerge from what may be the final big storm system of the year, it’s time to start planning warmer weather outings with our little ones. Here are a couple ideas for sunny days ahead.

Tide Pooling at Agate Beach

It’s been a long time since Bolinas was a largely unknown bohemian oasis on the southern end of the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. (You can only tear down so many road signs before the internet finds you.) But if you’ve only ever been to Bolinas Beach, Wharf Road, or Smiley’s Schooner Saloon, you’re missing one of the most extraordinary marine sanctuaries anywhere in California. Duxbury Reef at Agate Beach is a fragile yet abundant repository of marine life, from the microscopic to the magnificent. Come at the wrong time on the wrong day and you’ll all but miss the magic, but if you wait for a low tide, one of the largest shale reefs in North America will reveal itself. Practice leave-no-trace principles as you explore tide pools that contain limpets, bat sea stars, ochre sea stars, anemones, sea urchins, shore crabs, and hermit crabs. If you can tear your eyes from the pools, turn your gaze to the horizon where, on a clear day, you may just spot the spouts of migrating whales. Be aware that the reef is a dynamic and volatile ecosystem. Keep a close watch on little ones who will be tempted to get close to the reef's edge where some of the most exciting creatures (and biggest dangers) are found. Above all, remember that every step you take has the potential to destroy fragile habitat, so tread lightly.

There is ample parking at the top of a short trail that leads to the beach. Porta-potties are available but drinking water is not. If you’re motivated to go soon, there is a minus tide at 5:40PM on March 9th. Sunset is at 6:15. The Coast Cafe serves dinner until 9:00PM. Sounds like a perfect NorCal evening.

Stolte Grove

We were reminded recently that many MHS families have never traveled deeper into to Homestead Valley than the front door of our own school. For a quietly magical experience (especially for younger kids), ditch the car and take a short walk down Montford Ave. to our very own redwood forest. This is the best season to visit Stolte Grove, as new growth sprouts from protected coastal redwoods and the creek remains swollen from winter rains. Little ones can put on plays on the stage, build fairy houses amongst the fairy rings, and splash in the creek that nourishes this precious ecosystem. If you're lucky, you may spot some California newts playing in the stream. For an added adventure, go through the gate behind the stage and explore a public easement through some lovely private gardens and a small apple orchard. (Come back in the fall to reap the Gravenstein harvest.) Stolte Grove is our favorite reminder that we don't have to go far to experience the glory of Mother Nature.

Happy trails!

Nicole Rothschild & Jesse Pearson

Marin Horizon School Experiential Education (XED)


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