Deer Island Preserve

A 154-acre preserve rising above the eastern edge of Novato.

Rangers Recommend

  • No longer a true island, the preserve was once part of the extensive wetlands of the Petaluma River delta.
  • Neighborhood visitors hike, jog, or walk their dogs on the relatively level loop trail as a daily exercise routine.
  • Historic remnants of an 1800s dairy farm still stand. Look for the weathered outbuildings.
  • Dogs welcome, but must be leashed at all times.

Naturalist Notes

  • True to its name, the preserve shelters thriving herds of deer.
  • Enjoy a wide variety of native oaks, including coast live oak, blue oak, black oak, and white oak. Squirrels feast on the acorns.
  • Red-shouldered hawks and white-tailed kites nest here. So do barn owls and great-horned owls.
  • Surrounding marshlands and Novato Creek attract snowy egrets, great egrets, and white pelicans. The woodlands are home to woodpeckers, owls, juncos, and towhees.
  • In spring, grasslands come alive with wildflowers, including ground iris and yellow mariposa lilies.
  • Check out the iNaturalist field guide. Add your own observations.


dog on leash
Dogs On Leash
Horseback Riding

Know Before You Go

  • Stay on roads and trails to preserve sensitive ecosystems and to avoid trespassing on private property.
  • Be courteous and safety conscious when sharing roads and trails. Go slow and say hello.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. Trails can be muddy during rainy season.
  • Bring water.
  • There are no restrooms at this location.
  • Steer clear of poison oak.
  • After an outing, check for ticks.