Once again I returned to hike in Marin County on my way back to the Bay Area from the Lake Tahoe area. This time I had selected the segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail in the Indian Tree Open Space Preserve just west of the outskirts of Novato. The trail also passes in and out of some lands owned by the North Marin Water District.
The trailhead on Vineyard Road is, as described in the official Bay Area Ridge Trail Guide, just past the last house. An even easier way to find the trailhead, since it’s not clear which is the last house, is to look for the sign indicating the end of the county maintained road, which, I believe, indicates the boundary of the North Marin Water District land. From this trailhead I walked generally southeast to the end of the Bay Area Ridge Trail segment. After returning to the trailhead, I then walked down the road about 0.1 mile to the continuation of the trail toward the Verissimo Hills Open Space Preserve and almost a mile on this trail before returning to my car.
The day was quite warm, about 88 degrees when I started hiking at around 1:30pm, so I was hoping that the trail wouldn’t be too exposed. Thankfully, the trail was mostly in the shade, so the hike was comfortable.
The Big Trees Trail climbs steadily, gaining about 1000 feet in a little under 3 miles.
About halfway up there is a nice view to the north across Stafford Lake, surrounded by golden hills.
In several places the trail passes stands of redwoods that presumably give the Big Trees Trail its name.
Here and there are distinctive madrones among the other trees.
The end of the Bay Area Ridge Trail segment is noted with a small sign, but the trail does continue and goes in a short loop around yet another stand of magnificent redwoods on a hilltop. At the far (south) side of the loop there is a wonderful unobstructed view south toward San Pablo Bay; the view is spectacular even on a hazy summer day – part of the reward for the climb.
On my way down the hill I encountered a young woman enjoying a ride on her horse.
After returning to the trailhead I started up the next portion of the trail toward the Verissimo Hills Open Space Preserve. I didn’t have time to hike the entire section that day, so I just explored the first portion, a little less than a mile. At the place I decided to turn around I could see the nearby housing, at the boundary between the town and the Open Space.
Later, as I drove south to cross the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco, the coastal fog was – as usual – forming and blowing in between the hills. As I approached the bridge I noticed that the far tower was lost in the fog.
The hike was very pleasant, given the warm temperature. The “big trees” were beautiful, and the view from the top was worth the climb. Later I’ll return to complete the rest of the trail segment to O’Hair Park.