Santa Venetia Marsh Open Space Preserve,
Marin County Open Space District,
Marin County
In brief:
1.2 mile flat loop around a San Rafael marsh.

Distance, category, and difficulty
:
The single trail is flat, and this 1.2 mile loop hike is very easy.

Exposure:
Totally exposed.

Trail traffic
:
Light.

Trail surfaces
:
Dirt trails.

Hiking time
:
Under an hour.

Season
:
Nice any time.

Getting there:
From US 101 in Marin County, exit North San Pedro Road. Drive east on North San Pedro Road about 2 miles, then turn left on Vendola. Drive about 0.1 mile on Vendola and park near the open space gate on the left.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
http://www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/484

GPS coordinates* for trailhead
:
Latitude 38 0'51.47"N
Longitude
12230'36.61"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging
:
Stores, pay phones, restaurants and gas back toward US 101 on North San Pedro Road. No camping.

Trailhead details:
Side of the road parking at the edge of a residential neighborhood. No parking or entrance fees. No drinking water, restrooms, maps, or designated handicapped parking. The single trail is flat, and when dry it could be navigable by wheelchair. Golden Gate Transit bus #34 stops on North San Pedro Road, a short distance from the trailhead.

Rules:
Trail is multi-use. Dogs are permitted on leash.

The Official Story:
MCOSD's Santa Venetia page
MCOSD 415-499-6387

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
• Download the park map pdf from MCOSD.
Trails of Northeast Marin County (map), published by Pease Press is a great guide to Santa Venetia Marsh.
• Open Spaces:  Lands of the Marin County Open Space District, by Barry Spitz (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and trail descriptions.

Santa Venetia Marsh in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

View photos from this hike.




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With so much bayfront open space in northern San Rafael, Santa Venetia Marsh largely escapes public notice. Trailhead Tucked back in a residential neighborhood, the preserve lacks the facilities and extensive wildlife viewing opportunities of nearby Las Gallinas and China Camp, and offers only a single 1.20 mile levee loop trail. The flat path is a good choice for a morning run or daily dog trot, but unless you live nearby I doubt you'd want to make a special trip to Santa Venetia Marsh.
     Start at the open space gate to the right of a pumphouse. After a few feet, the multi-use trail splits at a bridge. An interpretive sign announces the presence of the endangered California clapper rail. Turn right.Bridge on levee trail
     Marsh grasses dominate the landscape, although there are a few clusters of fennel and gumweed, as well as coyote brush and toyon shrubs sprinkled along the trail. You'll have nice views north and east as the trail follows along a tiny creek. Where the trail draws near to Las Gallinas Creek only a slim waterway separates Santa Venetia Marsh from the marsh and golf course of McInnis County Park, just to the north. You'll likely see ducks in the creek, but larger birds of prey have been sighted here as well. The trail curves left, presenting nice views of Mount Tamalpais and the hills of several MCOSD preserves, including Big Rock Ridge. As the trail reaches the edge of a residential neighborhood, it veers left and follows along the preserve boundary, a short distance from the community. Along Las Gallinas CreekA line of fennel plants forms a screen on the left. There are neighborhood access points at the end of each street, and attendant noise. The forested green hills of San Pedro Mountain frame the view to the south. The trail takes a turn to the left, and at 1.20 miles, you'll reach a previously encountered junction with the other end of the loop trail, at the bridge. Continue straight and retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: 1.20 miles
Last hiked: Wednesday, January 16, 2002