Bolinas Lagoon Preserve

Bolinas Lagoon is one of the few remaining unspoiled estuaries on the west coast.

Rangers Recommend

  • Sunrises and sunsets reflect beautifully on the shimmering surface of the lagoon.
  • Bob Stewart Trail wanders through a lush grove of alders and willows at the lagoon's north end.
  • Audubon Canyon Ranch, a nonprofit sanctuary and education center, offers an additional 8 miles of hiking next to this preserve, mid-March through mid-July. Check their website for open hours.
  • The lagoon is bordered by the charming seaside villages of Bolinas. Stop for lunch.
  • Friendly dogs are welcome on shore, on leash.

Naturalist Notes

  • Bolinas Lagoon is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. It is also within the Golden Gate Biosphere, an Audubon Important Bird Area, a State and National Treasure, and one of only seven Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance in the western United States.
  • The lagoon is an important stopover for tens of thousands of birds migrating on the Pacific Flyway. The birds need rest after their long, strenuous flights. Please observe quietly from a distance.
  • Herons and egrets are among the shorebird standouts. These large waders nest in nearby trees.
  • Enjoy watching the lively and curious harbor seals, especially at low tide. They haul out to rest on land before returning to the water. Please do not disturb; give them room.
  • Seal pups are often left alone by their mothers for short periods. Don't worry. They don't need to be rescued.
  • Threatened and endangered steelhead and coho salmon swim through the waters to reach upstream spawning grounds.
  • Most of the lagoon is shallow, only a few feet deep at high tide.
  • Check out the iNaturalist field guide. Add your own observations.


dog on leash
Dogs On Leash
Kayak Canoe

Know Before You Go

  • Bring binoculars for the best views of birds and seals.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. Temperatures can change quickly. Wear waterproof shoes or boots, as well as sun protection.
  • Carry drinking water.
  • There are no restrooms at this location.