What’s Best: Only Tam is higher than this grassy wall of a ridge, whose steep, sunny face challenges hikers. Or, opt for a shaded creek with a trail leading to a more pastoral peak.
Parking: From Hwy. 101 take Smith Ranch-Lucas Valley Rd. exit. Go west on Lucas Valley Rd. for about 4 ml. and turn right on Westgate Dr.
LUCAS VALLEY MAP SAN FRANCISCO Photo Gallery
From Westgate, turn right on Creekside Dr. Park at MCOSD gate opposite tennis courts and children’s park. Agency: Marin County Open Space District; San Rafael Parks
The sweeping, steep turns of Luiz Fire Road to Big Rock Ridge gaining 1,300 feet in little more than 1.5 miles take you from a pastoral woodland valley to a King-Kong view from the top of the North Bay world. You may wish to avoid this south-facing hump in mid-summer. But on a spring or winter day, flowers popping from green grass will add arm’s length beauty to the splashy panoramas. From the top now at almost 1,500 feet you can go left for a little more than .25-mile, up another 150 feet, to the preserve’s western boundary and its higher point, at 1,640 feet. The high point of Big Rock Ridge at 1,895 feet and marked by a telecommunications installation is on private property another mile west of the boundary gate.
More Stuff: The Goat Trail switchbacks up 1,000 feet up to Big Rock Ridge, coming to a saddle. Parking: Turn right off Lucas Valley on Mt. McKinley Drive which is east of the Westgate parking area. Then go left on Idylberry and right on Red Mt. Court. Enter through a MCOSD rough-hewn gate and go left. The Goat Trail at first follows an ephemeral streambed up a ravine.
Old Lucas Valley Road is a delightfully decrepit paved road along Miller Creek. Parking: Take Lucas Valley Road west, past Huckleberry Drive, and park on left at MCOSD sign opposite Lassen Drive. Under the boughs of bay, oak, and madrone, the road curves eastward on a level stretch for about a mile, coming to a gate at Canyon Oaks Drive. To the right is San Rafael’s large Russom Memorial Park, a rustic greenbelt.
Mont Marin is rolling low ridge that separates Lucas Valley from Terra Linda. WAlk the road that curves up about midway along on Old Lucas Valley Road a little more than .25-mile from both east and west gates. Once at the top, you can go right on Park Ridge Road about .25-mile to Mont Marin’s high point, some 490 feet. Or, go left a similar distance to another hump, which has a view toward the Marin Civic Center and the San Pablo Bay wetlands.
Bike: Only the fittest and most-whacked cyclists will want to try pedaling up Luiz Fire Road to Big Rock Ridge it’s a toughie. You can make a loop by riding the ridge road through a saddle that dips steeply almost 300 feet over a hellish mile-long stretch and come down Queenstone Fire Road. At the bottom of Queenstone, go right on Miller Creek Road, and then right on Lucas Valley Road, which you take back to the trailhead on Creekside off Westgate. This loop is about 8.5 miles.
Lucas Valley Preserve
A saner ride, headed the other direction, is a Terra Linda Ridge loop, of about
4.5 miles. Use the Terra Linda Ridge access on Lucas Valley Road opposite Muir Court. This will take you up and around Terra Linda to the Sleepy Hollow Divide, coming to the Fawn-Freitas trailhead in less than 2 miles. You then go left to Freitas Parkway. Roll down and go left on Del Ganado, riding 1.2 miles up to the MCOSD gate at Santa Margarita Park. Take the road up from the park, connecting again with the Terra Linda Ridge Road, where you turn right for the last .5-mile.