Lake County Park,
Marin County Parks,
1.7 mile loop through mostly wooded low hills close to Novato.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 1.7 mile out and back hike is easy. Trailhead elevation is about 215 feet. The hike climbs to about 600 feet before descending back to the trailhead. Total elevation change is about 350 feet.
More sun than shade.
Too hot in summer. Best in late winter and early spring.
From US 101 in Marin County, exit #463 (San Marin Drive/Atherton Avenue). Drive west on San Marin Drive about 3 miles, then turn right onto Novato Boulevard. Drive about 2.5 miles on Novato Boulevard, then turn left into the park. Once past the entrance kiosk, turn right and continue to the end of the paved parking area, about 0.4 mile from the entrance.
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, stores, and restaurants back in Novato. No camping.
$5 single vehicle entrance fee ($2 to walk in); pay at the automated machine at the entrance if kiosk is unattended. Lots of parking in a paved lot, with some spillover parking in a dirt lot. Nice restrooms and drinking fountains throughout the park. No maps (at least when the kiosk is unattended). There's a pay phone just off the right side of the park road as you drive to the parking lot. There is no direct public transportation to this park. The nearest bus service is on Novato Boulevard and San Marin Drive. From there it's 2.5 miles to the park.
Park is open from 8 a.m. to dusk. No dogs. No bikes on the trail.
The Official Story:
Marin County Park's Stafford Lake page
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Trails of Northeast Marin County is helpful navigating to the park and on the trail (available from Pease Press).
Hiking Marin by Don and Kay Martin (order this book from Amazon.com) has a useful map and descriptions of this hike.
Stafford Lake in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos from this hike.
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
you live or work near Novato, you've no doubt
visited Stafford Lake for a company picnic or friend's party. This Marin
County park boasts a playground, picnic areas, softball fields, volleyball
nets, lots of manicured green lawn, a disc golf course, and one hiking
trail. The two-mile path is technically a loop, but one leg of the trail
is undermaintained and tough to follow. It's long enough to provide some
exercise satisfaction, but short enough for a quick get-away from a party,
or to burn off any extra calories you may have consumed at a bbq.