What’s Best: A number of pleasant trails, meandering along creeks and woodland knolls, create loop options on these former lands of the Coast Miwok.

Parking: From Hwy. 101, take the Bel Marin Keys-Ignacio Valley Blvd. exit north of Terra Linda and go west about 3 ml. to the College of Marin, Indian Valley Campus. Keep right and park at Lot 8, in front of Campus Police. Note: Parking fee is charged. Agency: Marin County Open Space District


The nearly 900 acres of the Indian Valley Open Space Preserve provide popular neighborhood nature trails, meandering about the woodland ravines that ripple down from the towering wall of Big Rock Ridge. For all hikes, take the .25-mile connector path to your left along the border of athletic fields,

The Waterfall Trail-Pacheco Pond loop crisscrosses a small stream in a pretty woodland forest. Proceed from the gate, dipping down Indian Valley Fire Road. Continue for about .5-mile, cross a footbridge, and hang a left on the Waterfall Trail. You’ll reach the 20-foot falls with a volume that varies dramatically with rainfall after .25-mile of gentle climbing. Above the falls, pass the Alexander Trail on your right and then curve left through bay-and-oak birdland, cresting the ravine some 400 feet above the trailhead. Follow the Waterfall Trail on its squiggly descent to Pacheco Pond a duck’s dream with willows and cattails. Veer right around its eastern shore and meet the Pacheco Pond Fire Road.

The Hill Ranch-Wildcat Trail loop takes you through big cat country past a historic upper ranch site. Take the Indian Valley Fire Road and go left on the Witzel Trail at the second footbridge, about .75-mile from the MCOSD gate. The trail veers left, ascending the creek ravine on switchbacks amid large laurel trees. Pass a left-bearing junction with the Alexander Trail. You break out to a view clearing after about .5-mile some 400 feet higher than the bridge. Keep right, where a spur of the Hill Ranch Trail goes up the hillside. The ranch here was the upper portion of a late 1800s dairy operation. The Witzel Trail curves through frizzy manzanita and madrone, and then becomes the Buzzard Burn Fire Road, which drops back down to the Indian Fire Road. Be Aware: Mountain lions have been spotted in this preserve.

Bike: Most trails are closed to bikes, but Indian Valley Fire Road provides a key through route from central Marin to Novato. Take Ignacio Boulevard through the campus and then ride the unpaved road through the preserve. You come out on Indian Valley Road, where you can ride left to Wilson Way and hang a right, which takes you into west Novato near Miwok Park, TH100.

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