Tiburon Uplands Nature Preserve,
County of Marin Parks and Open Space,
Marin County
In brief:
0.7 mile loop hike in a heavily wooded preserve.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 0.7 mile loop hike is very easy. The loop climbs from about 100 feet, then descends back to the trailhead.

Mostly shaded.

Trail traffic

Trail surfaces
Dirt trails.

Hiking time
1 hour.

Good anytime.

Getting there:
From US 101 in Marin County, exit Tiburon Boulevard. Drive east on Tiburon Boulevard through downtown Tiburon, where the road morphs into Paradise Drive. Continue on Paradise Drive to a pullout on the right, just past the signed Tiburon Uplands Nature Preserve, on the left (altogether it's about 6.5 miles from 101).

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
Latitude 3753'20.97"N
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phone, stores, and restaurants back in Tiburon, or 6 miles north in Corte Madera on Paradise Drive. No camping.

Trailhead details:
A few roadside spots on each side of the road. No parking or entrance fees. No facilities or maps. No designated handicapped parking, and trail is not well-suited to wheelchairs. There is no direct public transportation to the preserve.

None posted, but standard Marin County parks and open space rules apply: no bikes, dogs on leash only, and preserve is open from dawn to dusk.

The Official Story:
County of Marin Parks and Open Space 415-499-6387
County of Marin Parks and Open Space

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
• Download the Old St. Hilary's pdf map from the MCOSD website.
• Don and Kay Martin's Hiking Marin has a useful map of the preserve and the surrounding area (order this book from Amazon.com).

View photos from this hike.

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

Tiburon Uplands Nature Preserve is a tiny parcel tucked into a canyon along a quiet stretch of Paradise Drive. Preserve entranceOne short loop takes a hiker through dark forests of California bay and fern, exposed stretches of chaparral, and small pockets of grassland. Although it's small, the preserve is a great choice for a quick walk, or a leisurely wildflower hike. You could combine a springtime visit to Tiburon Uplands with treks at nearby Old St. Hilary's and Ring Mountain Open Space Preserves, for a day of wildflower hunting on the Tiburon peninsula.
     Start at either of the pullouts on Paradise Drive, and carefully walk back along the side of the road about 0.1 mile to the signed preserve entrance. Once up a short section of stairs you'll reach a dark forest of California bay. A sign announces the loop trail; go right.
     The narrow hiking-only trail climbs moderately through woods with lots of California bay, coast live oak, and toyon. On a December hike I saw hound's tongue leaves pushing through the dirt, as well as vetch and snakeroot. Sloping grassy meadowLoop Trail winds uphill, crosses a seasonal creek and then emerges into grassland.Tall toyon shrubs (trees, really) line the trail and you might also see madrone and coast live oak. Reaching the preserve border, the trail turns left and climbs through a sloping grassy meadow. You'll squeeze through a pocket of coast live oaks and reenter grassland, where a bench sits a few feet from another oak forest. Be sure to look back over your shoulder, or sit on the bench and admire the long views to the east bay. You might catch a glimpse of the Larkspur ferry en route. Just past the bench the trails splits at an unsigned junction. The trail to the right continues uphill, eventually entering Old St. Hilary's Open Space Preserve, but the legality of the path is in question. Stay to the left.Trail winds through dark woods
     The trail wanders up and down through the woods, then levels out in a patch of grassy chaparral. Sagebrush, monkeyflower, and toyon are common. More nice views from here. Then you'll head back into the woods, for good this time, as the trail starts to descend in earnest, back to the trailhead. California bays block nearly all the sunlight, leaving shade-loving lush ferns and a few hazelnut shrubs to occupy the understory. The trail descends the steep canyon with the assistance of switchbacks. At 0.70 mile, you'll reach the previously encountered junction in front of the loop trail sign. Retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

Total distance: 0.70 miles
Last hiked: Wednesday, December 12, 2001