What’s Best: Old growth redwoods, a meadow, and a grassland hill that offers a view from the Mount Tam watershed to the north Marin hills.
Parking: From Hwy. 101, take Sir Francis Drake Blvd. west of Fairfax. Past Woodacre, turn right at golf course clubhouse on Nicasio Valley Rd. Park after .5 ml. at MCOSD gate. Agency: Marin County Open Space District
ROYS REDWOODS MAP SAN FRANCISCO Photo Gallery
In 1978, the county purchased initial lands of the 377-acre preserve above the San Geronimo Valley from descendants of the Roy brothers, Thomas and James, who had come by the land in 1877 as a debt repayment from Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Adolph Malliard, who, in the late 1840s, had purchased the land from Paul Revere’s grandson, Joseph Warren Revere. Whew!
For the Meadow Trail, a level stroll alongside redwoods that rival some of the Muir Woods giants, go left from the gate on a trail. You soon reach a glade, by veering right where a sign directs equestrians to the left. At the far edge of the meadow, look for the Council Tree a circle of redwoods, one almost 250-feet high, that sprouted from an ancestral tree that once was at the center. Other mammoth trees were featured George Lucas’ Star Wars was filmed in the mid-1980s.
To continue on Roys Redwoods Loop Trail to Nicasio Hill, the nearly 789-foot-high open summit above the valley, continue north, climbing about 150 feet up from the meadow and reaching a trail junction. (To the left at this junction, .5-mile away, is Nicasio Road and a MCOSD gate for the Dickson Fire Road which climbs 1,000 feet to the preserve’s high point and northern boundary.) Go right, on the Roys Redwoods Loop Trail and, after another .25-mile, go right at a junction with the David Hansen-Trail, which takes you up the hill, through open laurel and madrone woodlands. The last trail section is a .25-mile loop that takes in the top of Nicasio Hill.
More Stuff: A new (2000) French Ranch Open Space Preserve can be be accessed via the fire road to the left up the hill from the present Roys Redwoods’ gates, and also from Drake Boulevard just past Lagunitas School Road. The preserve’s Top Flight Trail, about 1.5 miles long, weaves through the 403 acres of Douglas fir and Redwoods. The French Ranch Fire Road (closer to the Lagunitas School access) goes north from the trail, climbing over .75-mile to join the Barnabe Mountain Fire Road.
Nicasio Reservoir Ranchero lands of northwest Marin
Maurice Thorner Memorial is a stand-alone, 33-acre woodland ridge that was made an Open Space Preserve in 1981. You can access the 500-foot-high ridge from either end. On Nicasio Valley Road, park on west side of the golf cart overpass. Or, continue past Nicasio Valley Road on Drake Boulevard and turn right on Lagunitas School Road; circle around behind the school and look for a MCOSD marker on your left.
To Nicasio Reservoir, an Marin Municipal Water District lake with shoreline trails, continue north on Nicasio Valley Road. You’ll pass pastoral Nicasio with its Old West buildings including its red schoolhouse and church. The reservoir offers strolls for birdwatchers and is a back way to get to the coast via Pt. Reyes Station; see TH80.