In Marin County on a beautiful, sunny day for a very short roadtrip, today's
plan called for some easy drive-ups before heading back south across the Bay
Area around noon, timed to avoid rush-hour during the morning or afternoon
commutes. I've been slowly collecting all the available summits in the county,
working my way north from the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting various parks, OSPs
and the occasional private property in the process. The drive-ups through
residential neighborhoods are more due to my OCD drive to be
thorough, rather than any real pleasure in doing so.
Located immediately north of downtown San Anselmo across Sir Francis Drake
Blvd, there is nicely no development on the summit. It is quite small, no more
than about 500ft from a road on all sides. The shortest approach is from the
end of S. Grove Hill Ave on the east side, but one would have to hike through
someone's property to get there. The guy who lives at the end of the street has
gone to the trouble of asking Google to fuzz out his entire house on StreetView,
so it appears he guards his privacy carefully. Have no fear. There is
that zig-zags up the west side of the hill, what was once an old ranch road
with very sharp turns. It can be accessed
by following use trails up through the oak forest
understory. There are some beer bottles, cans and other items littered about
that tell of homeless or teenage drinking spots. There are no signs forbidding
trespassing (or drinking, for that matter). The highpoint is a small
with a rickety lawn chair set up for taking in
more leisurely. Inside a hole at the top was a small, empty
. A nice place to take in over the
Just north of Red Hill and a few minutes of driving is Grove Hill, completely
developed. A large sits at the highest point, though the
adjacent road (East Lane) I drove up appears to be just as high. Lots of
parking up here and room to turn around. Boring summit, though.
San Rafael Hill
This summit is found on the northwest side of San Rafael, a few minutes from
downtown. Similar to Grove Hill, the highpoint is found near the end of Oakmont
Ave, though the road is not the highpoint. That honor goes to
and the adjacent . I actually got
out here to climb a few steps and wander to of the water tank
where it shares the property line with the
private home and seems highest. You'll feel exceedingly foolish if
spotted by the resident. No views on this one, either.
A mile and a half north of San Rafael Hill, unnamed Peak 331ft lies adjacent to
US101 between Santa Margarita Valley and Santa Venetia. The summit of this small
hill is home of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marin.
is located next to the parking lot, a nice little
with benches for contemplating and
meticulously maintained trails and landscaping making for a pleasant walk that
takes all of about 15sec. Kudos to the church for not building over it. On the
otherhand, the church buildings themselves partially block
to Mt. Tamalpais. Neat little place to visit.
An undeveloped Hill 2mi further north along US101, Pacheco Hill is most easily
visited from Marin Valley Dr. Signed for No Parking, the private road leads to a
large mobile home community on the east side of the hill. Just before the road
turns private, there is adjacent to the freeway near the
Hamilton Woods Apartments. I hiked up the private road a few hundred feet to
access an on the north side of the hill. A
through the grassy stretch of road, getting one to the summit in a few minutes'
time. The summit is open to views in most directions, with a dilapidated ranch
fence harking back half a century or more. A very peaceful spot with
overlooking the North Bay.
This unnamed summit lies in the south of Novato. It
can be accessed via the Indian Valley Fire Road either from the north (limited
parking) or the south through the College of Marin's Indian Valley Campus off
Ignacio Blvd. There is a fee to park here Mon-Sat according to
but I was oblivious to this at the time of my visit and don't recall seeing any
signs regarding it. The closest parking is the far west end near the grass
fields and the . The trail system circumnavigates
without any that reach , but I found
multiple ways to reach it up open grassy slopes and fairly benign forest
understory. There was some fresh poison oak to avoid on the route I
to the old on the south side,
but with careful stepping I managed to avoid contact. The better,
more open route was the ascent line from the east.
Though less than a mile north of Peak 500ft, there is 4-5mi of driving required
to get between the two from Ignacio Blvd. This fully developed summit sports
a water tank at its highpoint near the end of Half Moon Rd. This road is quite
narrow with steep driveways that makes turning around quite difficult, at least
for the van. A crew was working atop the tank when I visited, so I didn't stop
for longer than it took to take .
This small gem was the best of the summits I visited on the day. Located at
the far west end of Novato, most of Little Mountain is located within
of the same name.
doesn't show any trails going to the summit, but there are various
that climb the steep, open grassy slopes to
. I used a TH off Trish Drive that I got from peakbagger.com
that worked nicely. I enjoyed the bright sunshine and open views so much that I
decided to follow the use trail after reaching the highpoint from
the east. This led to an unsigned gate at a barbed-wire fence used to contain
the cattle that graze the west side of the mountain and other lands below that
are owned by the North Marin Water District and the
with no trail access. Oops.
Rather than continue down the use trail to the base of the mountain on the west
side, I dropped steeply down grass slopes to the south where I picked up the
that runs along the south side of the mountain and
conveniently back to .
Just north of Little Mountain, across Novato Blvd, is the
Mt. Burdell OSP
is a P1K and as close to a namesake peak as I can find
in the western US. I'd visited it four years earlier when I was focusing on the
prominence peaks, missing the unnamed Peak 967ft on its southwestern flanks.
This looked to be another grassy summit similar to Little Mountain, with a
small deviation - the summit isn't actually within the OSP, but on adjacent
private property. A use trail leads up from I used, climbing
. It was only when I had gotten to a small saddle
just east of the highpoint that I noted the fence and No Trespassing sign.
Though not normally a showstopper, there was a Jeep parked at
with 4-5 guys
and several mountain bikes. I hung around on the lower southeast summit for a
little while to see if they'd leave but eventually gave up the effort. I didn't
want to wait around too long and get stuck in traffic on my way home, so I left
this for another time...