COMING SOON-- WORKSHOPS
What really goes in the blue bin
--and what doesn't
Deepen your outdoor experience
--Use a topo map and compass
COMING SOON-- PHOTO GALLERY
Browse photos of a coming tour
--or of the tour you just took
ARMCHAIR TOUR! Movie: Monumental: David Brower's Fight for Wild America
--Chronicles the life and times of David Brower, the Sierra Club's legendary first Executive Director. --An avid mountain climber, he led campaigns to protect national parks and other wildlands in the 1950s through the 1990s.
-- He inspired millions of Americans to become environmentalists!
Book: California's Wild Gardens: A Living Legacy
--From the California Native Plant Society (www.cnps.org)
--If you lived to be 100 and hiked every day throughout California, you couldn't see as many species of wildflowers and different habitats as in this beautiful book. A biodiversity feast for the eyes!
Music: Beethoven's 6th Symphony, the Pastoral
--By Ludwig von Beethoven
--Portions of this symphony, composed two centuries ago, provide the soundtrack for parts of Walt Disney's animated 1940 film, Fantasia. Whether you've seen it or not, hear the entire masterpiece that paints a peaceful rural landscape in music, as a storm moves over it.
TOUR TIP Summer in the San Francisco Bay Area means lower temperatures at the coast and hot temperatures inland. Always carry water, and dress in layers, because the day can warm up, then cool off again before sunset. It can be 60 degrees F., windy, and cool on the Golden Gate Bridge at the same time it's 97 degrees F., hot, and no wind at Mount Diablo, just 30 miles inland!
CUSTOMIZE Not sure which tour is right for you? Special event coming up? A topic you're especially interested in?
No worries about marauding grizzlies, though -- the Bay Area's last grizzly was shot at Bonny Doon Mountain, only a few miles away from Waddell Creek, in 1886. The grizzly is California's official state animal, seen on the state flag, but it's been extinct in California since the 1920s!
I've tried to cover your most likely questions. If you want to know more, please contact David. Please don't be shy. If you want to know something, we want to tell you. Based on your questions we'll add to our FAQ. Also our policies document has additional information.
What's a California Nature Tour?
A fun, active tour of beautiful places that are home to Californiaís extraordinarily diverse wild plants and wildlife (including some places in the City of San Francisco), and experience all that Nature has to offer, while also exploring local history -- the human stories of people who once lived here.
What if I really want to go on a certain California Nature Tour, but I canít go on the day(s) itís scheduled?
First, check our schedule Ė some tours are offered more than once a year. Or, if you can find at least two more people who want to go, contact us, and we can schedule a custom tour for your group on a day that works for everyone.
What if I want to design my own tour for my family, friends, or group?
We can help you plan custom tours with us that go anywhere in California, including transportation, meals and accommodations.
How do I reserve a place on a tour and pay for it?
Your place is reserved as soon as we receive your payment, either online through the signup page (where you can pay with a credit card through Google Checkout, or use PayPal) or by check or money order mailed to California Nature Tours, 235 Douglass St., San Francisco, CA 94114; Attn: David D. Schmidt. You will receive an email confirmation.
What if I've paid for a trip but want to cancel and get a refund?
If it's a one-day hiking or biking tour, you must notify California Nature Tours by phone (415-971-5201) or email (email@example.com) at least seven days before scheduled starting date to get a refund. To cancel from 7 days until 48 hours before the tour start time, notify California Nature Tours by phone and you can reserve a spot on another comparable tour of your choice. No refunds or comparable tours for no-shows or cancellations less than 48 hours from start time.
If it's a van tour or multi-day tour, you must notify California Nature Tours (415-971-5201) at least 30 days in advance of tour start time to get a full refund; cancellations from 29 to 14 days before tour start time get a 50% refund. No refunds for cancellations less than 14 days in advance.
What should I bring?
A few days before each day trip, and weeks before a multi-day trip, we send an email to everyone who signed up regarding what to bring and what conditions to expect. Just like California weather, it varies a lot by season and location. In the Sierra, sometimes it rains in the summer; along the coast, it almost never rains in summer, but is often cool and windy.
How do I know if a tour will be too strenuous for me?
Each trip description on the website includes distance to be walked, whether itís hilly, and minimum age for participants. If itís challenging, the trip description will say so. Almost all of our tours are suitable for healthy people over 10 years old and under 65 Ė- as well as a lot of very fit people over 65. If you are not sure or have special needs, tell us before you sign up. Weíll try to meet your needs. Custom tours can be tailored for any age.
What if I donít have a car, or have one but donít want to drive to a tour starting point?
For scheduled one-day or half-day tours, just indicate on the sign-up form that you need a ride and weíll give you a ride from San Francisco (with free pickup at any hotel), space permitting, on a first-come, first-served basis. We can also provide contact information for others to car pool with, or public transit directions upon request. For custom tours and multi-day tours, we provide or arrange transportation.
Can kids go too?
The minimum age for each tour is listed in the description. For reasons of safety and stamina, some of our tours are not suitable for younger kids.
What happens if thereís bad weather on the day of a trip Iíve already paid for?
Nearly all tours go ahead rain or shine. However, if an extraordinary storm or other conditions make it unsafe to go, weíll notify everyone by phone that the tour will be rescheduled.
Why pay for a guided tour when I can take the same route on my own?
For the same reason youíd take a guided tour of a medieval cathedral in Europe. You can go there on your own, and youíll find itís big, beautiful, old, grey, and ornate. But on the guided tour, youíll hear the stories of God, the saints, and Satan in every stained glass window and carving, from Adam and Eve to the final Judgment, and the meaning of the soaring architecture, and how it's all designed to awe and educate medieval churchgoers, who could not read. Similarly, Nature and California history have their own awesome and intricate stories. Plus, youíll meet great people!
Is lunch or other meals included on your tours?
On day tours, gourmet lunches with fresh, organic California-grown foods will be available upon request from May through September for $25 each. Lunches are included on custom tours and multi-day tours. Multi-day tours include meals, unless otherwise stated (see individual tour descriptions).
Action Alert Keep the Bay Area Beautiful, join Greenbelt Alliance! If you live in California, join the Greenbelt Alliance. Since 1958, Greenbelt Alliance has been helping citizen groups all around the San Francisco Bay Area to limit sprawl developments and promote liveable, walkable cities. The Bay Area didn't have to be this way. It could have gone the way of Los Angeles. But thanks to the Greenbelt Alliance and its local partners, the Bay Area's hills (and some of its valleys) are still green.
The redwoods were AMAZING! . . . a truly magical experience . . . I felt transported to another world, every step
yielding amazing sights, and
David has so much knowledge
about the flora and fauna
as well as local and national history . . .
I highly recommend David's unique personalised tours . . .
You'll remember it always, I know I will!
I was thrilled to find
California Nature Tours--
a San Francisco Bay treasure!
My tours to Muir Woods and
Point Reyes National Seashore
were relaxing, educational, and just magnificent.
I highly recommend David Schmidt and California Nature Tours.
You will come away feeling great and knowing you have seen California through the eyes of someone extraordinary.
You will love it!
Ms. G. K.
We really loved your wildflower tour, it was
a FANTASTIC day.
Beth M., Australia
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.