Discover & Learn

Get outside and explore your parks and preserves this summer.

Rangers Recommend

Mount Burdell Preserve

Giant oak tree in Bowman Canyon

This preserve holds some of the mightiest valley oaks in Marin. There are also impressive coast live oaks, black oaks, and blue oaks. Start at the gate at the end of San Andreas Drive, heading out on San Andreas Fire Road. Turn right onto Middle Burdell Fire Road, passing the seasonal vernal pool called Hidden Lake. After crossing Old Quarry Trail, take a sharp right at the second junction, on to Salt Lick Fire Road, where hillsides above the grasslands are dotted with valley oaks. Follow to the junction where it joins San Carlos Fire Road, which loops right onto San Marin Fire Road, heading back past the water tanks to where you started on San Andreas.

  • 4.5 miles
  • 700 foot elevation gain
  • Strenuous

Indian Valley Preserve

Sun shining through oak branches

Oak woodlands offer a glimpse of what Marin County looked like before European settlement. Start on Ad & Gloria Schwindt Trail through oak and bay forest, continuing on to Indian Valley Fire Road. At the next junction, turn right on to Buzzard Burn Fire Road, crossing the creek bed through bay, buckeye, madrone, manzanita, coast live oak, blue oak, and black oak. The road becomes Witzel Trail. Stay straight until joining Susan Alexander Trail, which is a steep uphill through buckeye, California bay, and black oak woodland. Pass the waterfall, taking Ken Harth Trail on the right. Switch backs loop you to Pacheco Pond Fire Road, along the parking area. Plenty of paid parking is available in the college campus lot.

  • 4 miles
  • 500 foot elevation gain
  • Moderate difficulty

 

Naturalist Notes

River otters on sand

North American River Otter

Otters have two layers of fur – the thickest coats in the animal kingdom – to keep them warm and buoyant. At home in water or on land, they have webbed feet and sleek tails for swimming as well as strong legs and sleek bellies for running and sliding. They can jog as fast as 15 miles per hour! Creekside dens often have an underwater entrance, helping to protect them from predators. Otters are known for playful antics and a variety of vocalizations from chuckles to chirps to growls. Due to conservation efforts and habitat improvements North American river otter populations have recently rebounded and they are once again found in many parts of the Bay Area. Add your sightings of Lontra canadensis to iNaturalist.

Volunteer Opportunities

Young girl planting native flowers at Creekside

Stewardship

Have a few hours? Let's pull together as we bring back volunteer events. Join together outside and have fun, meet new friends, explore the outdoors, and give back to the special places where you love to hike, run, ride, and play. For more information check out the calendar or contact Parks volunteer coordinators:

  • Parks: email Kirk Schroeder
  • Open Space: email Greg Reza
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