|Lucas Valley Open
Marin County Open Space District,
3.7 mile out and back hike from the edge of Novato residential development to Big Rock Ridge. Although the hike is short, there are some very steep sections.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 3.7 mile out and back hike is moderate, but at least it's fairly short. Trailhead elevation is about 200 feet. The trail climbs to 1640 feet in less than 2 miles, an average 15% grade. Total elevation change is about 1400 feet. It's a harsh ascent, and if you have weak knees, you might find the descent painful.
Full sun throughout.
Dirt fire road.
1 1/2 hours.
Nice any time, but probably best in spring.
From US 101 in Marin County, exit Lucas Valley Road. Drive about 3.4 miles west on Lucas Valley Road, then turn right onto Westgate Road. Drive about 0.1 mile, and turn right onto Creekside Road. Drive about 0.2 mile, and park along the side of the road, near the white open space gate.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phones, stores, and restaurants a short distance either to the north or south on 101. No camping.
Side of street parking at the edge of a residential neighborhood. No entrance or parking fees. No maps or restrooms on site. There's a water fountain across the street near the tennis courts. No services in the immediate area, but there's a mini mart back towards US 101 on Lucas Valley Road. There is no designated handicapped parking, and trails are not well suited to wheelchairs. During commute hours, you can take Golden Gate Transit bus #41 or 44 to Lucas Valley Road and Westgate. From there it's an easy walk to the preserve.
Trails are multi-use. Dogs are permitted on leash on trails; off leash under voice command on fire roads. Dog owners must have a leash for each dog.
The Official Story:
MCOSD's Lucas Valley page.
MCOSD field office 415-499-6405
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Download the pdf map from the MCOSD website.
Trails of Northeast Marin County is my favorite map (available from Pease Press).
Don and Kay Martin's Hiking Marin has a great map (order this book from Amazon.com).
Barry Spitz's Open Spaces has a simple map and descriptions of trails (order this book from Amazon.com).
Lucas Valley Open Space Preserve in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View 16 photos from the hike (foggy day)
View 34 photos from the hike (sunny day)
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
to one of Marin County's most beautiful viewpoints on a clear winter or spring day is a no-brainer. Making the trek in the
fog is another story. Your thoughts may turn inward when you can see only
a few feet in front of you. Without expansive vistas, you might notice
different animal scats, tiny plants, and unusual pebbles. Muffled noises
filter through the fog, prompting questions that can't be answered. Is
that the sound of water dripping from an oak, invisible in a white cloud?
Like Brigadoon, mystery and adventure seem to loom in the mist. After
my first experience at Lucas Valley, on a foggy day, I had no idea what
I had missed until I came back a second time on a clear day. Then I was
stunned: the view from the summit may be Marin County's best.