We usually get in a short backpacking trip over the Thanksgiving holidays. This year, we decided to go up to Marin County and visit some places we hadn’t walked before. We arrived at the trailhead a little before 8 AM after taking the #70 bus from San Francisco to the Alameda Del Prado bus pad in Novato. A few hundred yards from the bus stop is the entrance to the Pacheco Valle Open Space Preserve (OSP).
From there we followed public trails through a long list of open space administrative units including:
Pacheco Valle OSP
Loma Verde OSP
Ignacio Valley OSP
Lucas Valley Homeowners Association Preserve
Lucas Valley OSP
Loma Alta OSP
White Hill OSP
Cascade Canyon OSP
Marin Municipal Watershed District lands
Gary Giacomini OSP
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (various units)
Mt. Tamalpais State Park
Most of these units abut each other, but where they don’t there are public trail easements connecting them. We ended our trip with a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge back into San Francisco. The total length of this three-day trip was a little over 59 miles. We suffered through another weekend of absolutely stellar walking weather. Northern California is experiencing a record-breaking calendar-year-to-date drought, so the hills are still dry and brown. Normally by Thanksgiving, everything would be starting to turn green.
On this walk, for reasons described below, we walked about two miles along Highway 1. Given that this was early Sunday morning, there was almost no traffic and the walk along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific was quite stunning. Normally, this road walking can be avoided by taking the Coastal Trail from Pantoll down to either the Heather Cut-Off or the use trail that drops down to the Owl Trail.
Here's an interactive CalTopo map of our route.
One highlight for us was dropping down to Highway 1 from Pantoll to an overlook of Gull Rock (red dot on map). Here, since early October, a vagrant Blue-footed Booby has taken up residence. We had distant but decent binocular looks at the bird, who is number 608 on our North American list. Following Highway 1 south to Slide Ranch was the most practical route to take after viewing the Booby.
Living in the Bay Area offers us these wonderful opportunities for exploiting the vast amounts of public lands that are in easy range of the city. Most are accessible by public transportation so car shuttles are not necessary. We are very fortunate.
Here's a link to the gallery of all of the trip photos. And here are a few images from our trip.
Mt. Tamalpais from Pacheco Valle OSP
nearing the summit of White Hill as the sun was setting on Day 1.
Loma Alta and Big Rock Ridge, early on Day 2
Bolinas and Pt. Reyes, early on Day 3
Coastal Trail on Bolinas Ridge
Marin Coast looking north from the Owl Trail
the Golden Gate Bridge and the city from the headlands