Magazine article Sunset

The Wide-Open Spaces of Marin; Three Preserves for March Outings ... Views, Wildflowers, Redwoods, Oak Pastures

Magazine article Sunset

The Wide-Open Spaces of Marin; Three Preserves for March Outings ... Views, Wildflowers, Redwoods, Oak Pastures

Article excerpt

The wide-open spaces of Marin

It takes nothing away from Point Reyes orMount Tamalpais to say there are other excellent places in Marin County to hike. The lands of the Marin County Open Space District may not be as famous, but they make for fine March outings.

The district was founded in 1972 to preserveopen space in a rapidly developing suburban county. Since then, it has acquired 20 preserves, which total 6,200 acres (see map at right).

One goal has been to protect mountainridges that separate communities. But the preserves also include bay marshes, oak pastures, and redwood groves--almost a Marin-in-miniature.

Preserve lands have been kept free ofdeveloped facilities. Fires are prohibited, and vehicle access is strictly controlled. Backpack camping is allowed by permit, available at the district office.

We suggest March walks in three preservesthat are particularly inviting this time of year. For maps and directions to these and other preserves, stop by the district office, open 8 to 5 weekdays, in Room 335 at the Marin County Civic Center, Civic Center Drive, San Rafael; telephone is (415) 499-6387. Other open space hikes are described in Tacy Dunham's 1986 Wandering Marin Trails, $4.95 in Marin bookshops and outdoor stores.

Mount Burdell. Dr. Galen Burdell arrivedin California with the gold rush, but appears, in his dental career, to have found fillings more profitable than ore. In time, his Marin County property included the 1,558-foot hill that carries his name.

A 2 1/2-mile fire road leads to Burdell's top;other roads loop gently around its slopes, which support cattle, valley oak, California buckeye, and, this time of year, a bright palette of wildflowers. Views from the summit are expansive: to the west, the Marin hills; to the east, San Pablo Bay; to the north, the remainder of Dr. Burdell's lands, set to open in two or three years as Olompali State Historic Park.

From U.S. 101 in Novato, take the SanMarin Drive exit and head west 2 miles; turn north on San Andreas Drive and proceed until you see the wooden entrance gate on the right. Hiking the fire road, you fork right to reach boggy Hidden Lake, then left to climb steeply up the slope, then right once more to the summit.

Indian Tree. This 1 1/2-mile hike starts atthe west end of Novato's Vineyard Road. To reach the trailhead, follow the directions to Mount Burdell but keep going on San Marin Drive as it becomes Sutro Avenue. Turn west on Vineyard Road and proceed to where it loses its pavement; park at roadside. …

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