Picnics, Nature and Play at Stafford Lake Park
July 6, 2011Posted by pamela |
Stafford Lake, the reservoir that provides the town of Novato with much of its drinking water, is also the site of one of Marin's favorite outdoor recreation spots: Stafford Lake County Park. There are so many activities to do at this 139-acre park, and I'm surprised my family and I don't come here more often, especially since it's literally just around the corner from our house. If you haven't been there, you've certainly passed it on Novato Boulevard on your way out to the Cheese Factory or Point Reyes. You owe it to yourself to stop by and see what Stafford Lake has to offer.
One of the things that Stafford Lake offers in abundance is physical beauty—a sparkling blue lake surrounded by hills, trees, and bucolic dairy farms. Wildlife abounds, and we saw plenty of deer and of course a whole flock of the ubiquitous Canada geese that seem to inhabit every park in Northern California. We packed a picnic lunch and ate at one of the many tables scattered throughout the parks shady picnic area. Tables have charcoal BBQ grills, and group areas can accommodate up to 500 people. My kids loved the huge play structure, which seemed to be in like new condition. In fact, the whole park was extremely clean and well kept up.
Other amenities include volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, a softball backstop, as well as acres and acres of meadows and open space. Fishing is also permitted in the lake itself, which is stocked with catfish, bluegill, and bass. Swimming is not permitted, though. If you feel the urge to explore, head out on the Terwilliger Nature Trail that winds through fields and trees. Stafford Lake County Park is also home to a popular disc golf course that draws players from all over California.
Stafford Lake Park is a perfect destination for families with children from toddlers on up. It's a great place to relax, play, and spend the day outdoors. Like all Marin County parks, there's an entry fee for Stafford Lake of $5 per vehicle on weekdays and $10 on weekends and holidays. Those who walk or bike in are subject to a $2 per person day use fee (perhaps to keep the people who park by the side of the road to dodge the parking fee in check). Current summer hours are daily from 7 am to 8 pm, although hours change throughout the year; check the Marin County Parks website for the exact schedule. The park is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. No dogs, except for service animals, are allowed.
Stafford Lake County Park is located on Novato Boulevard, about two miles west of the San Marin Drive intersection. To get there, take Highway 101 to the San Marin Drive exit, then head west on San Marin Drive, which you'll follow for about three miles until you get to Novato Boulevard. Turn right onto Novato Boulevard and follow it to the park; you'll turn left into the parking lot after you pass the Stafford Lake Dam. For more information on Stafford Lake and other Marin County Parks, visit www.marinparks.org.