Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A lovely morning in Mill Valley

This past weekend, we were able to take advantage of a small break between rain storms and head out to Mill Valley. Our first stop was Equator coffee in the heart of Mill Valley's downtown. This is a really great place to fuel up for the day. The coffee is very good and the prices are only slightly more than Peet's or Starbucks (but you're getting small batch organic coffee that is locally roasted...bonus!!).

Such a beautiful set up!
From Equator we headed down Throckmorton (away from town) towards Old Mill Park. This is a good spot to let the kids run around while you enjoy your coffee. There is easy access to the creek, which is fun to stomp around in during the colder months and would be just as much fun on a hot summers day.

Old Mill Park
Continuing past the playground, you will cross a wooden pedestrian bridge and then make a right onto Cascade Drive. The path follows along the creek for a little bit, and then you will continue to walk on a residential road. From the park, it's about a 0.7 mile walk to the trail head. Keep an eye out for a plaque that says "#131 Mill Valley, Steps, Lanes, Path" that is mounted on a tree at the beginning of the path. This path is relatively short (about 0.3 miles) and follows the creek until you get back to Cascade drive, at which point you cross the road and enter the trail to Cascade Falls.

The path has some toddler friendly portions, but our 3.5 year old needed a hand to hold along several portions, and the 1.5 year old had to be carried over the portions that were steep or had big drop offs.
The hike to Cascade Falls is short and easy, and you can loop up to the falls and back fairly quickly. Stay to the right when the path forks to get a better view of the falls, and then continue the path up and over the falls and it will bring you back down to where the path originally split off. The creek, as well as the pool that the waterfall pours into, is fairly slow moving and shallow, so it's a great spot to let the kids splash around.

After the hike we headed back into town to explore the downtown shops. There are a number of upscale boutiques in the square as well as a handful of restaurants and cafes. The Depot Bookstore and Cafe is a popular spot to get a snack and the outdoor patio sits adjacent to an open space with park benches where the kids can run around.

Downtown Mill Valley. The Depot Cafe and Bookstore (lower right) used to be a train depot for the Northwestern Pacific Railroad and sits in the center of the downtown square.
For lunch we headed to Tony Tutto's, which is about an 8 minute walk from the square (we chose to drive since everyone was tired from the hike). Tony's specializes in vegetarian pizza's made with fresh, organic ingredients, and the pizza is delicious!

We had the margherita pizza and it was so fresh and flavorful! The kids really enjoyed it too...we definitely should have ordered two pizzas. 
Smelling the flowers that are around the outdoor patio at Tony Tutto's. 

Until next time...
What are your favorite urban hikes in the Bay Area?

The details: Mill Valley is about 30 minutes from Berkeley. The hike is just over 2 miles R/T if you start in downtown Mill Valley.  **Note that there is a small turnout for parking at the entrance to Cascade Falls where you can access both trails without having to do the initial walk through Old Mill Park and the residential neighborhood.

The facts: Gas/Toll: $10, 2 large drip coffees at Equater: $5.50, Pizza at Tony Tutto's: $12 (**but you should plan on getting 2 pizzas if you want to fill up).

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