Olompali State Historic Park is 700 acres wide, 1,558 feet tall, and full of interesting stories from its past. The Coast Miwoks lived on this land from 6,000 BC until the early 1850s. History buffs will know this was a tumultuous time to have land in this area in the mid-1800s (the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846 happened). Check out the Olompali State Historic Park’s website for more details on the ownership from the 1850s when the land was granted to Camilo Ynitia then sold off and ended up in the hands of San Francisco dentist Galen Burdell (Mount Burdell was named after him). The Grateful Dead occupied the property for a time, can you imagine how fun that would have been?? Then a hippie commune and it eventually landed in the hands of the California State Park system to be forever preserved as a historic park for all of us to enjoy.
Olompali State Historic Park
Miwok Loop Trail
Do you ever have those moments when you walk out the door and feel like you are forgetting something and can’t figure it out? The bosslady had one of those on the hike at Olompali State Historic Park. It happened to be her socks! And her hat. But socks are extremely important while hiking right? If you have the right fitting shoe it seems to be OK to not wear socks. Of course, you will want to wash your shoes after each hike. 😉
After realizing how refreshing it was to feel the air flowing through the mesh in her shoes, we followed the trail past the historic buildings and the formal garden. The Burdell’s had a love of exotic trees and brought them back and planted them on the property. Don’t worry, the palm trees don’t interfere with the oak woodlands further up the trail! Don’t forget to check out Ynitia’s adobe that is enclosed to preserve it. The rock walls on the property were constructed by Chinese laborers in the early 1900s and are still holding up great! As you turn the corner and start heading up you will see a beautiful barn on your right. It sort of blocks the view of the orchard while it stands tall on the property.
The old historic buildings are so great to see! We love hiking our way through historic places. Not too far past the old dairy barn, we came across a small Coast Miwok village built for reference on how they would have lived on the land. The parks are also reviving original plants that would have been used while the Coast Miwoks lived here. Talk about living simply in a tiny home! Our current society has far too many possessions and feel like we need roots in a big house. The Coast Miwoks had the right idea! Live simply. It also was a simpler time. We truly like flushing toilets and lights that turn on at the flip of a switch but would be up for a happy middle ground.
Follow the Miwok Loop Trail along Olompali Creek then hang a right on Burdell trail. Trust us, you want to go counterclockwise!
Hiking along Olompali Creek the trail was nice and wide and had tons of shade. Hopping on the switchbacks it becomes a single-track trail through the shade of the oak and bay trees. There are a few tall manzanitas and madrones sprinkled throughout. The switchbacks make it a nice easy ascent up to the top of Mount Burdell at 1,558 feet.
Views of the Petaluma start peeking through the trees as you get higher and higher. Then you can start seeing views of San Pablo Bay. We were there on a clear day and could see past Sonoma Mountain to the Mayacamas and the Vaca Mountains and all the way out to the Benicia-Martinez bridge. Skydivers were dropping 2 at a time over the marshland below. A small plane would climb high and people would jump out. The plane would land and take off with 2 more skydivers. It happened a few times as we were climbing. Such a gorgeous place to jump out of a plane!
Once you cross over the rock wall that used to serve as the property line, you will be at the top of the trail and you can see the backside of Mount Burdell. We had hiked the backside last year as the sun rose up. Check out last year’s ‘Morning Light at Mount Burdell‘ to see what it looks like. There’s a lovely bench at the top out in full sun with full views of San Pablo Bay and beyond! We took a moment to chill and figure out which trail we were supposed to take back down the hill. Hint, it’s the one that looks like a deer trail on the left…the others are dead ends. This is when our All Trails app came in handy as we could see immediately we were going the wrong way. Some trail signs would be awesome up there!
Take the skinny trail straight down through the grass and hop back over the rock wall again. Don’t take the nice wide fire road. No idea where it goes but it goes in the opposite direction. Careful of your footing on this part. It is rather steep. Thankfully no poison oak along here so if you fall (not that we would ever do that) you won’t fall into poison oak. Soon you will be back under the canopy of the oaks, madrones, and manzanitas and the trail turns into switchbacks again. Whew! Straight down is hard on the quads!
Enjoy the shade and easier descent as you reach the Miwok Loop trail. Once you reach the Miwok Loop trail, hang a right and follow it around. Views of the parking lot and the historic buildings pop up and you might get a little excited that the hike is almost done…it isn’t. There’s more beauty in store for you!
We ended up on the old bridge just above the dairy barn. Hop back on the Miwok Loop trail and make your way back down toward the barn. Here the orchard is more visible as you go down the path. Take your time enjoying the exotic trees and make your way back to the parking lot.
Update on how the hike went without socks: Fabulous! No blisters!! Yes, the shoes were washed when we got home. What’s the worst thing you have forgotten on a hike?
Parking is $8 (at the moment, cash only), portable potty in the parking lot, picnic tables throughout, 75% shade, 7.2 miles, 1,401 ft elevation gain, no dogs, check out the times for docents to learn more of the history! The nearest food would be Novato.
Things We Love:
The bosslady here, I must say it was my shoes!! I was slightly worried about getting a ton of blisters since I didn’t have any socks but I was pleasantly surprised! When you have the right fitting shoe for your foot, this shouldn’t happen. The hubs hates going shoe shopping with me because my feet are super picky. I can feel every little seam. I can feel where the sole meets the shoe. The ankle can’t be too high. The top can’t dig into my foot when flexed. It is crazy trying to find the right shoe. When you do, buy more than 1!! I love my Merrell Mix Master Move Glide trail-running shoes! I am on my second pair. We wear out our hiking shoes and replace them about every six months. I prefer trail runners because they are light, usually, let in more air (have I mentioned I sweat a lot?), and I get a good grip on the rocks. These have been my favorite so far and we have gone through several!
Check them out on Amazon or your local shoe store:
All Trails Stats:
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Don’t forget to check out the video of the hike on our Hike Then Wine YouTube channel!