Hit the Trail at Indian Valley Open Space Preserve
September 6, 2010Posted by pamela |
One of the great things about living in Marin is the amount of easily accessible open space. Almost everyone has at least one trail head right around the corner, so there's no excuse not to take the family on an outdoors excursion whenever possible. One of the most popular areas for hiking, horseback riding, and more in northern Marin is the Indian Valley Open Space Preserve, located in Novato.
This 885-acre preserve is sited adjacent to the College of Marin's Indian Valley Campus, and is criss-crossed by a wide variety of trails shaded by oaks and California bay laurels. It's a pleasant place to go for a hike on a hot day. During various times of the year you can find a waterfall, wildflowers, and ponds often teeming with wildlife like toads, frogs and newts. It's a popular destination for school groups studying our ecosystem.
The main trail is Indian Valley Fire Road. It's flat, wide, and well maintained and it's a great place for both a walk and a bike ride. You'll often find horses and their riders as well as dog-walkers here. (Dogs can be walked off-leash on the fire road, but must be on-leash on all other trails.) Other trails that branch off from the fire road include Pacheco Pond Trail, the wonderfully named Buzzard Burn Trail (named after what happens to unfortunate birds that land on the nearby power lines), and the Waterfall Trail. Some of these involve pretty easy elevation changes.
Indian Valley Open Space Preserve is well worth an outing, and with the landscape changing in response to the seasons, is enjoyable at any time of year. You can access the preserve from the Indian Valley Campus parking lot at the end of Ignacio Boulevard. There's a fee for parking there, and the preserve can be found a short distance from the parking lots past the college's baseball fields.
An alternate access point is off Indian Valley Road at the north end of the preserve. There's limited street parking available here, and on a nice weekend day it can be really difficult to find a spot. Follow the short gravel easement road past some houses and you'll see the trailhead and gate leading to Indian Valley Fire Road.
Take the usual precautions: poison oak abounds, and there are ticks in the grass off-trail. Bring your hats and sunscreen for the non-shady parts of the trail, and make sure to pack along plenty of water for everyone.
Learn more about Indian Valley Open Space Preserve and the rest of our wonderful open space resources at the website of the Marin County Parks and Open Space Department, where you can also download printable trail maps.