Ridge Trail: Indian Tree & Burdell 2020-01

Yet another transit-accessible ridge trail segment. I took Capitol Corridor to BART to Golden Gate Transit 70 to Marin Transit 251, and got off at the intersection of Novato Blvd and San Marin Dr, which is right on the trail route. I finally after all these years realized what the difference between GGT 70 and 101 is. 70 stops at every bus pad along highway 101, meaning every interchange, while 101 only stops at the transit center in San Rafael. The difference is travel time is remarkable, so my return trip was on GGT 101.

First I headed southwest, into O’Hair Park (city of Novato), where the trail climbs up through bay laurel forest to grassy hillsides, then along the edge of a residential neighborhood. It then climbs again to the ridge of Verissimo Hills Open Space, North Marin Watershed, and some private lands, with good views off to both sides. Then down to cross Vineyard Rd and to the trailhead for Indian Tree Open Space. The trail initially climbs through bay laurel and oak forest, then into scattered groves of redwood trees. At the top, the forest gives way to grasslands with open views west and north. A small cluster of redwoods just south of where the trail tops out contains a very large redwood. I walked out to the end of the mapped trail, and then north for a while for the views, though I think the future trail will head south from here, towards Lucas Valley Open Space. There are already ranch/fire roads, so I assume there are easements to be obtained.

trail through redwoods in Indian Tree

I retraced my steps to the O’Hair trailhead and then a short ways along roads to the Mt Burdell section. The trail starts alongside a creek in a narrow corridor, but then starts to climb in the wide open Mount Burdell Open Space preserve. The website says this is the largest of the Marin County Open Space District lands. Climbing steadily through grasslands and forest patches, the Dwarf Oak trail climbs to a fire road where it continues upward. There are indeed dwarf oaks along the trail, interior live oak I’m guessing, but whether they are a different variety, or dwarfed by grazing, or on poor serpentine soils, I don’t know. There is a wide valley about half way up, and then the climb continues, steeper on the fire road than the trail. Mount Burdell itself is covered with trees, no expansive views, but open areas nearby do offer views. Or at least would if the south wind had not blown the bay fog up into Marin. The day was warm with broken sunshine at the bottom, but at the top, it was cold and windy and damp.

meadow in Mount Burdell

I walked a ways down the trail into Olompali State Park, a nice and seemingly little used trail, and then cut back across to the ridge top meadow, climbing over the stone wall that runs along the summit ridge. I headed out the Eagle Rim Trail, a new one that follows the ridge westward and then hooks back to meet the fire road. The trail was obviously laid out by mountain bikers. This might be the route of the future ridge trail, as it is my guess that it would follow this ridge down into the valley before climbing again to Helen Putnam County Park.

Flowers are not out yet. I saw a few yellow composites, not sure what they are but perhaps non-native (early flowering plants often are), and a single California poppy. The trails are muddy from the rain, but certainly not impassible.

I walked followed the fire road and trail back down, picked up my backpack, and caught the bus back to Novato, to San Francisco, and BART and Capitol Corridor home.

Photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157712757638286; Bay Area Ridge Trail collection: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/collections/72157708271186714/.

Circumnavigation progress: 555.1 km of 612 km (380 miles), 91% of completed trail.

Category search for Bay Area Ridge Trail

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