What’s Best: A misnamed lush creek valley, sporting wildflowers, a fern-and-redwood creek, and fruit trees surviving from the Taylorville dairy days.
Parking: From Hwy. 101, take Sir Francis Drake Blvd. west of Fairfax and continue to Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Park on left, about 1 ml. beyond main entrance, opposite sign for Devils Gulch. Agency: Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Bills Trail to: Stairstep Falls (1.5 ml.), or Barnabe Peak (8.75 ml.); IKE’ Devils Gulch Creek loop (3.25 ml.); Devils Gulch Road (up to 5 ml.)
The Bills Trail hikes are excellent. Walk to your right off the road to the creek, less than .5-mile from the trailhead gate after horse Camp 2 and just before Camp 3. This clearing is the site of the Taylorville dairy and home sites for Taylor’s son and camp workers. You cross a bridge beside a huge redwood, and go left on the trail. After less than .5-mile, going steadily up on Bills Trail, you’ll see a spur trail veering left that leads to Stairstep Falls. When the runoff conditions are right, water cascades over mossy rocks and then collects to a stream that continues on its merry way down to join Devils Gulch Creek. Bills Trail continues to Barnabe Peak, up some easy-grade switchbacks, joining the Barnabe Peak Road about .25-mile away from the fire lookout at the 1,466-foot summit.
DEVILS GULCH MAP SAN FRANCISCO Photo Gallery
For the Devils Gulch Creek loop, come up the road a short distance and veer right on a signed trail that runs upstream alongside the creek. You enter a fern forest, under a ceiling of oak and laurel trees. Just over .25-mile up the creek, you’ll pass the bridge to Bills Trail, and another .5-mile after that, the trail hooks up left and meets the road. Go left on the open road back to trailhead parking.
Devils Gulch Road follows part of an ancient trans-Marin route used by Miwok. The gulch connects the shaded recesses of Lagunitas Creek with the grassland hills near what is now Nicasio Reservoir, less than 3 miles north as the owl flies. You pass the horse camps in .5-mile, ascend a grassy slope and then drop down to creek level, entering a woodland riparian zone. Still following the creek, the road reaches the state park boundary in less than 1.5-mile, entering GGNRA lands. After another .75-mile, public lands end at a gate, a net 300 feet up from the trailhead. Note: Some of the place names in the park derive from Samuel P. Taylor’s children’s play-time imaginations.
Bike: Devils Gulch Road is a fun, intermediate bike ride. For a longer loop ride to Irving Picnic Area, go right toward Deadmans Gulch, as described in the preceding paragraph. Then take a contour trail through Madrone Group area to Irving Picnic Area. From Irving, take the bridge to your right, the Cross Marin Trail, through the campground. A bridge to the right, just past the historic mill site, pops you out to Drake Boulevard, where you need to turn right and ride a short distance to Devils Gulch trailhead. This 5 mile loop gives you a good look at Taylor Park’s many faces.