The Miwok Woodlands section begins at Lagunitas Creek and San Geronimo Valley, at the north slope of the Tamalpais watershed. Here, the mixed conifer forests and chaparral make an abrupt transition to the oak savanna and woodland hills. This transition is most evident in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, which is cleaved by Lagunitas Creek with redwoods and mixed-pine forest above its south banks and steep grasslands of Barnabe Peak to the north. The transition is just as evident on San Geronimo Ridge, where the chaparral and conifers to the south of the ridge are markedly different from high grasslands of Loma Alta, White Hill and Nicasio Hill to the north.
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Most of the public trails in the north Marin hills have been preserved due to the efforts of the Marin County Open Space District, which has worked with landowners and citizen groups to create preserves. The district was formed by voter approval in 1972, and has continuously expanded since then. Although several of the open space preserves stand alone, most are linked by shared trails and boundaries with other public lands. Each preserve features multiple access points, allowing residents of neighboring communities places to walk without getting in the car. Several large, new preserves are currently in the works, which will complete a system of trails, linking various public lands and allowing hikers to walk the length and breadth of Marin.
At Big Rock Ridge and Indian Tree Hills, hikers are able to see to the most remote parts of the county: the ranchlands of the northwest which remain in large, private parcels much the same as they were at the time of the Mexican land grants in the early 1800s. Although access to these lands is limited, they nonetheless provide an open view.
The northernmost trailhead in this section, Olompali State Park, was also the northern boundary for the Coast Miwok, where the hills drop into the broader drainages of San Antonio Creek and the Petaluma River. This is also the present-day boundary between Marin and Sonoma counties. In the late 1800s, early settlers recognized this boundary as well, building a railroad to link the commerce of West Marin to the lines that ran north and south through the county.
All hike and walk distances are ROUND TRIP except as noted for shuttles.
Please contact Agency to obtain current rules and regulations. See Resource Links for all telephone numbers. See also special Doggie Trails section.
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