At Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve enjoy hiking from redwood groves to ridge lines with expansive views of Marin County to a dwarf forest and back down into redwoods…this was a beautiful 5.9 mile adventure!
The hubs and I are still finding so many unique places to get out and explore nature. Love, love, love how many hidden gems there are around here! It’s 4th of July weekend and we didn’t want to deal with crowds and had been wanting to explore more of the ridge lines in Marin so we opted to check out the Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve. We just happened to be 2 of the 5 humans, 2 dogs and 2 horses out on the trail that day. So great!
Start at Willis Evans Canyon and enjoy a nice gradual climb through the young redwood grove. The trail was wide and easy to hike while taking in all the scenery. Careful to watch your step! There’s a lot of horse poop along the trail. I had found a great article already outlining our hike for us on the Marin Independent Journal which was handy to have as there aren’t many for this area.
We did find ourselves a little confused at a fork in the trail that either leads out to the neighborhood and Conifer Way or up the hill. We opted to head up the hill on a single track trail overgrown with poison oak and other lush undergrowth. Life’s an adventure right? You might want to take the road to the old Conifer Fire Road though just to be safe. The single track trail was steep, rocky and covered with scary plants just waiting for us to slip and grab on to them! It was super peaceful up there and the only place along the hike we saw a deer.
The trail parallels with the fire road so we eventually met up with the San Geronimo Fire Road. The trail just opened up to this gorgeous meadow with views of Pine Mountain to the south. This is where we saw our first human. He was on a mountain bike and struggling up the hill. Off to your right you will see the dwarf Sargent Cypress trees. The rocky soil and serpentine rocks stunted their growth. No short jokes here! This is where we also saw the Marin Manzanita. They were so low to the ground like ground cover. It was nice to be on more level ground and not climbing straight up so we were able to enjoy the scenery a little more.
As you start heading down the other side through the dwarf forest you will see Barnabe Peak in front of you. Look for the large white dome on top of a grassy hill in the distance. We had hiked that peak in the fall of 2015 and loved the gorgeous views from there! Stay on the fire road and toward the top of the peak of Green Hill you will see Kent Lake below. This is another beautiful hike in the Marin Municipal Water District.
Follow the loop around and take the Hunt Camp Fire Road down to Silvestris Fire Road. This part of the hike is mostly shaded and lush with ferns growing under the canopy of the forest. You will cross little streams several times. The sound of water flowing and no one in site was so peaceful. We love to leave the stress of life behind and relax on the trails unplugged…well relax from the outside world, this was definitely a booty buster! There is cell service so we weren’t fully unplugged but it was pretty darn close!
At the bottom of the sometimes steep and rocky but wide fire road there is a small water flow over some boulders just before the neighborhood road. Take a moment to enjoy this one last peace of calm before heading downhill through the neighborhood to San Geronimo Valley Road. Careful walking along the road. It is about .5 miles and the speed limit is 25 MPH so you should be fine like us but careful to keep an eye out for the cars as well as the random blackberry bushes trying to jump out and grab you!
This lovely hidden gem at Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve is just the beginning of our future adventures in this area! We now want to check out more of the ridge line hikes in the area including Bolinas Ridge!
No designated parking (we parked at the end of Redwood Canyon where there’s maybe 2 spots but not many hikers so you can probably get a spot), no toilets, free to park, dogs on leash ok, 5.9 Miles, 1,232 elevation gain loss at the beginning and end, moderate hike due to the incline, 50% shade, great mix of plant life!
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