This hike on the Bay Area Ridge Trail includes a round-trip hike through the heart of Mt. Burdell Open Space Preserve and a shorter round-trip hike through Little Mountain Open Space Preserve skirting part of the Verissimo Hills Open Space Preserve. The second part of the hike was kind of a continuation of a hike I had done in Indian Tree Open Space Preserve with an extension into the Verissimo Hills. These parks are on the outskirts of Novato. It is fortunate that the open space areas have been set aside, since they are in pretty areas and, in some places, housing backs right up to the open space area boundaries.
The GPS track shows an overview of the route. The trailhead is just south of the intersection of Novato Blvd. and San Marin Dr.
After about 0.4 mile of roadside and sidewalk hiking, the trail departs from the street, passing between a high school and some houses before emerging into the Open Space Preserve as the Dwarf Oaks Trail. The Bay Area Ridge Trail has a moderate grade as it climbs almost monotonically to the preserve boundary near the top of Burdell Mountain.
About 1.8 miles from the trailhead the trail has climbed to around 500 feet elevation and there is a nice view of China Camp, with US-101 in the foreground and Richmond in the background across San Pablo Strait.
Very shortly afterward the Dwarf Oaks Trail passes by a grouping of smaller-than-usual oaks, which may give the trail its name.
The central valley of the Mt. Burdell OSP opens up near a junction with the San Andreas Fire Road. Much of the trail through this OSP is through open grassland, punctuated by trees, as seen here.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail continues to climb via Deer Camp Fire Road and Cobblestone Fire Road. About 5.5 miles from the trailhead, there is one final junction before the end of the trail segment. From this junction area, which is at about 1440 feet elevation, Tiburon and Angel Island can be seen.
After following the Ridge Trail signage, turning right, and climbing a little more, Mt. Tamalpais was prominent on the skyline. In this picture the white strip is the typical afternoon fog entering the Bay through the Golden Gate.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail segment ends at the OSP boundary, which is also the boundary with Olompali State Historic Park. I went through the gate and proceeded about 10 yards to enjoy the view to the east across the Petaluma River and San Pablo Bay.
After returning to the junction mentioned previously, I took a detour (0.2 mile round trip) up the other trail to a quarry area where workers quarried cobblestones that were apparently used to pave San Francisco streets in the 1860’s and 70’s. A rock wall winds along the ridge top.
At 1535 feet elevation, this was the highest point of the hike but still short of the top of Burdell Mountain, which is just outside the park boundaries.
From this mountaintop perspective I returned to the trailhead at less than 100 feet elevation and basically kept going through O’Hair Park toward Little Mountain Open Space Preserve. After climbing perhaps 150 feet through a forested area, the trail emerges on Doe Hill Fire Road, which passes directly behind a housing development on the flank of Little Mountain. What a lovely view the residents have from their yards!
After passing through the Little Mountain OSP the trail crosses into North Marin Water District land adjacent to Verissimo Hills OSP. After a pleasant walk through these hills I arrived at the turnaround point from my previous hike, about 2 miles from today’s trailhead. I turned around and headed back to the trailhead. Along Doe Hill Fire Road I realized that I could see across the nearby housing and San Pablo Bay all the way to Mt. Diablo, some 40 miles away!
This picture was taken at about 190 feet elevation. I am continually surprised and delighted to find new Bay Area locations where Mt. Diablo is visible.
On the return trip there is one final slight rise, perhaps 50 feet high. At the top of this rise, the hills of Mt. Burdell OSP are in view, nicely illuminated by late the afternoon sun.
Revisiting a perspective view of the first part of the hike in Mt. Burdell OSP seemed like a fitting way to close the second part of the hike.