Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area


Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area is a group started by health care providers and park guides to help San Francisco Bay Area residents explore the parks near them while improving their mental and physical health.

Being outside in parks offers several benefits:

  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improves mood
  • Provides opportunities for physical activities
  • Can help reduce blood pressure in some people with hypertension
  • Helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
  • Introduces neighbors to each other

Join Healthy Parks Healthy People for free, easy, and family-friendly nature walks every Saturday. Refer to the calendar below for information on when and where the walks meet. Click on the walk you are interested in for a more detailed description of the activity. In order to make the most of the nature walk, please be sure to dress comfortably, wear sneakers or walking shoes, bring a water bottle, and bring sun protection.

Stay up to date with Healthy Parks, Healthy People programs and news by liking us on Facebook!

For more information please contact us at health@instituteatgoldengate.org.

Upcoming Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area Events in May 2015

*Click on the maps to expand them. See the calendar at the bottom of the page for future events.

Walk along Lake Merced

When: Sat, May 9, 10:00am – 1:30pm

Where: Lake Merced - Meet at the Penguin Prayer Statue at Lake Merced Blvd Parking Lot

Description: This 4 mile loop trail includes beautiful views of San Francisco’s very own native wetlands providing opportunities to see bird species and impressive wild plants. Learn about the history surrounding the lake as we meet new animal and plant species alike. This event is organized by San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (http://sfrecpark.org/).

Walk a Trail at McLaren Park

When: Sat, May 16, 10:00am – 12:30pm

Where: McLaren Park Trailhead - located on the parking lot southwest of Mansel St. and Visitation Ave.

Description: Join us for a walk on the Philosopher's Way trail, which meanders through McLaren Park, weaving onto vistas of the city and the Bay Area and into groves of redwoods and cypress. The 2.7 mile trail loop holds expansive views of the region. The walk starts with light stretching, followed by a guided walk along the trail, which contains 14 markers or "musing stations" that try to evoke perspectives on history and are intended to stimulate contemplation. This event is organized by San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (http://sfrecpark.org/).

Walk a Wetland at Heron’s Head Park

When: Sat, May 23, 10:00am – 12:30pm

Where: The EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park, 909 Florida, San Francisco, CA 94110-2819 (Near Jennings Street off Cargo way)

Description: You can learn all about the history and natural areas in an easy walk along San Francisco’s very own Bay Trail. Beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay are just one of the treasures you’ll observe on this walk. Our walks are free for all and require no pre-registration. Our professional RPD Guides will provide a short interpretive program designed specifically for each location. The staff will have first aid equipment and are certified in CPR. The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department works in partnership with the Institute at the Golden Gate to provide the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program. HPHP Bay Area launched a coordinated effort to provide approachable, culturally relevant park programming for communities with high health needs. This event is organized by San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (http://sfrecpark.org/).

Important Information: Please remember to bring your water and sunscreen. Check local weather forecasts – Trail Walks will be canceled due to unsafe conditions and/or rain.

Contact: For more information email lisa.mchenry@sfgov.org

Healthy Nature Walk in Alviso

When: Sat, June 6, 9:00am - 11:00am

Where: Alviso Marina County Park, 1195 Hope St, Alviso, CA 95002, United States. Meet at the Marina parking lot.

Description: Take an easy 2-mile nature walk through the wetland marshes of this beautiful bayside park. Explore the fantastic views and unique wildlife that call this park home.

Contact: Questions? Call (408) 355-2240

Sheep Camp Trail - Belmont, San Mateo

When: Sat, June 6, 9:00am - 11:00am

Where: St James Rd, Belmont, CA 94002

Description: Park rangers and volunteer docents lead participants on a monthly hike, sharing information about the park’s unique features and the natural history. Take A Hike attracts individuals and families looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors while incorporating exercise and learning.

Contact: (650) 599-1306

Mt. Tam HPHP Nature Walk 

When: Sat, June 6, 9:00am - 10:00am

Where: Pantoll Ranger Station at Pantoll Campground - Mt. Tamalpais SP, Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley, CA. Please meet at the kiosk in the parking lot.

Description: A free “Healthy Parks Healthy People” stretching session and Park Ranger guided walk followed by refreshments at Mount Tamalpais State Park. The walk is designed with beginning hikers in mind. Healthy Parks Healthy People (HPHP) harnesses the power of parks and public lands in promoting the health of people and the environment. The easy, one mile, 30 minute walk starts and ends at Pantoll Ranger Station. We will pass thru lush foliage and trees along Old Mine Trail and will be met with fabulous views of the mountains and ocean looking out towards San Francisco from the veteran’s bench viewpoint. Parking is available at Pantoll Parking lot off of Panoramic Highway or you can take the bus to the park. The walk will leave just after the arrival of the Marin Transit Stage Route #61 at Pantoll at 9:04 AM. Participants should come prepared for changeable weather. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots and bring a water bottle. Restrooms and a water fountain are available at Pantoll. The walk will happen rain or shine. If you wish to embark on a longer hike afterwards, the Park Ranger can offer hike suggestions and give out free maps to those who are interested. HPHP activities will be ongoing at Mt. Tamalpais on the first Saturday of every month. A schedule will be posted online at www.parks.ca.gov/mttam. The bus schedule is available online at http://www.marintransit.org/routes/61.html. For more information, please visit: parks.ca.gov/mttam

Walk at the Park at Stow Lake

When: Sat, June 6, 10:00am - 12:00pm

Where: Stow Lake Boathouse, Stow Lake Drive East, San Francisco, CA, United States

Description: Our walks are free for all and require no pre-registration. Our professional RPD Guides will provide a short interpretive program designed specifically for each location. The staff will have first aid equipment and are certified in CPR. The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department works in partnership with the Institute at the Golden Gate to provide the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program. HPHP Bay Area launched a coordinated effort to provide approachable, culturally relevant park programming for communities with high health needs. This event is organized by San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (http://sfrecpark.org/).

Important Information: Please remember to bring your water and sunscreen. Check local weather forecasts – Trail Walks will be canceled due to unsafe conditions and/or rain. 

Contact: For more information email lisa.mchenry@sfgov.org

Headlands Treasure Hunt

When: Sat, June 6, 11:00am - 12:30pm

Where: Point Bonita YMCA, 981 Fort Barry, Sausalito, CA, United States

Description: This summer, experience the Marin Headlands as explorers of the past! Strengthen your navigational skills by finding your way to checkpoints of fun challenges using only a compass and a map. Say goodbye to your GPS and Google Maps for a must-do summertime mission with your family and friends! All levels are welcome in this orienteering adventure. X marks the spot and we’ll see you there!

Nature Walk in Coyote Hills

When: Sat, June 6, 1:00pm - 2:30pm

Where: Coyote Hills Regional Park, 8000 Patterson Ranch Rd, Fremont, CA 94555, United States

Description: Combine being outdoors with a little bit of exercise and surprise yourself with how great it makes you feel. Join us for a leisurely stroll to explore and learn about the natural world around us and invigorate both the body and mind. No registration required; Drop-in program only. (12+ years)

Contact: For more information call (510) 544-3220

Family Fun Fitness - Presidio

When: Sat, June 6, 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Where: Presidio Main Post Parking Lot, Anza Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States

Where to Meet: We will be meeting at the Main Post Parade Ground in front of the Presidio Visitor Center on 105 Montgomery St.

Description: Fitness doesn't have to be boring. Join the HPHP family to learn how we can work out our bodies while playing fun games and exploring the Golden Gate National Parks. Wear comfortable exercise clothing you can move in and don't mind getting dirty. Don't forget your water bottles. We will be meeting at the Main Post Parade Ground in front of the Presidio Visitor Center on 105 Montgomery St. All ages and fitness levels welcome. 

Contact: Please call the Presidio Visitor Center: (415) 561-4323 or visit: https://www.smore.com/bs1g, for reservations and program details.

Contributing Partners

Bay Area Open Space Council
California State Parks
Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland
Crissy Field Center
East Bay Regional Park District
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, NPS
Greater Vallejo Recreation District
Institute at the Golden Gate

John Muir National Historic Site, NPS
Latino Outdoors
Marin County Parks
Marin Health and Human Services

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District
National Park Service, Pacific West Region
Network for a Healthy California
Point Bonita YMCA, YMCA of San Francisco

Point Reyes National Seashore Association
Point Reyes National Seashore, NPS

Rosie the Riveter / WWII Home Front National Historical Park, NPS

San Francisco Bay Trail Project
San Francisco Department of Public Health
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, NPS

San Francisco Parks Alliance
San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department
San Mateo County Parks
Santa Clara County Department of Parks and Recreation
Santa Clara County Open Space Authority
SF State University
Solano County Department of Health and Social Services
Solano County Parks and Recreation Division
Sonoma County Parks
U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region
U.S. FWS, Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge

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