Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide
Open Space Preserve (south) & Sorich Ranch Open Space Park
Marin County Open Space District & Town of San Anselmo,
Marin County
In brief:
This easy 2 mile hike above San Rafael neighborhoods is great for locals but there are plenty of bigger, more scenic trails just a few miles away.

Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 2 mile loop hike is easy. Trailhead elevation is around 150 feet and the preserve's high point is about 650 feet; total elevation change for the hike is about 450 feet. There is one very steep fire road, but most trails are well-graded.

Mostly exposed.

Trail traffic

Trail surfaces
Dirt fire roads and trails.

Hiking time
1 hour.

Good anytime.

Getting there:
From US 101 in Marin County, exit San Anselmo/Sir Francis Drake. Drive west on Sir Francis Drake about 3.5 miles, to the junction with Red Hill. Turn left to remain on Sir Francis Drake, and continue west about 0.5 mile, to San Francisco Boulevard. Turn right on San Francisco Boulevard and drive about 0.7 mile to the trailhead at the end of the road.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:

GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
Latitude 3759'23.16"N
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Pay phone, gas, restaurants, and stores about 1 mile away on Sir Francis Drake. No camping.

Trailhead details:
Parking at a lot on the edge of San Anselmo's Sorich Park. A dirt lot provides room for about 12 vehicles, with more side of street parking nearby in a residential neighborhood. No parking or entrance fees. No restrooms or maps. There's a drinking fountain and picnic tables in Sorich Park. No designated handicapped parking, and trails are not wheelchair suitable. There is no direct public transportation, but several Golden Gate Transit buses service Sir Francis Drake, and it's a short and easy walk from there to the trailhead.

Most trails are multi-use. One trail is closed to cyclists. 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 field office 415-499-6405
MCOSD's Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide page

Map Choices:
• Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
• Download the pdf map from the MCOSD website.
Trails of Northeast Marin County has a detailed map of the preserve (available from Pease Press).
• Open Spaces:  Lands of the Marin County Open Space District, by Barry Spitz (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and detailed trail descriptions.
• Hiking Marin by Don and Kay Martin (order this book from Amazon.com) has a detailed map and brief preserve descriptions.

View photos from the featured hike

Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page

It's great to visit the top of Mount Tamalpais, but where do you go when you desire to look at, rather than from Tam? TrailheadThe hilly preserves of the Marin County Open Space District provide miles of trail access to grassland and oak savanna, as well as excellent views of the north bay's tallest peaks and ridges. From the rolling hillsides of Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve, a hiker has many opportunities to admire Tam (to the south) and Big Rock Ridge (to the north). You can also catch glimpses of Giacomini Open Space Preserve (Pine Mountain), San Pedro Mountain, the bay, and Mount Diablo.
      Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve has a northern and southern section. Although you can walk from one parcel to the other, you must do so (briefly) on the street, for the two sections are not connected by trails. The northern section is larger, but offers no substantial loop hikes. Hikers can start at trailheads at the end of Manuel Frietas Parkway or Lucas Valley Road, Poison oak and eucalyptus on Sorich Park Trail and trek out-and-back on Terra Linda Ridge Fire Road. In the southern section, you can take advantage of neighboring Sorich Ranch Park, and hike a pleasant but short two mile loop through Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve and the primitive San Anselmo neighborhood Park.
     The preserve's characteristic oak-studded grassland makes it enjoyable in all seasons. In the hot days of summer frequently breezes carry cool air east from the ocean to the ridgetops. The eucalyptus forests in the preserve's lowlands are particularly scenic in August, when those woods are lit up with flaming red-tinged poison oak leaves. Visit in late winter and spring for lush green hillsides and wildflowers.Cemetery Fire Road
     Start at the edge of the parking lot and walk east, through a bare flat zone to the signed start of Sorich Park Trail (although the name is not shown on the trail post). Open to hikers and equestrians only, the narrow path angles along a hillside, and begins to gently ascend up the side of a eucalyptus-lined canyon. Poison oak is common in the understory. Ignore the many shortcut trails that head straight uphill to the left. A small footbridge crosses a seasonal creek where lizards scamper in dry months. Blackened tree trunks are evidence of a past fire. At 0.32 mile, Sorich Park Trail ends at an unsigned (in this direction) junction. To the right the gated fire road leaves the preserve, heading through Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery and ending at 5th Street. Turn left onto Cemetery Fire Road.
      The broad multi-use trail climbs easily through eucalyptus, California bay, coast live oak, toyon, and poison oak. From Ridgewood Fire Road, view north to Big Rock RidgeSwitchbacks make the climb nearly effortless on this uncharacteristic fire road. As you gain elevation, you'll have sweeping views south to Mount Tamalpais. At 0.71 mile, you'll reach a multi-trail junction only partially signed. Sun Valley Trail (the first path to the right) sets off through grassland to the south, while a path continues straight (to the right of the water tanks), heading to Ridgewood Drive. The fire road curves left but is unsigned. Bear left to remain on Cemetery Fire Road.
     After a few feet (at 0.72 mile) an unsigned connector path to Ridgewood Fire Road breaks off to the right. You can continue on Cemetery Fire Road or take Ridgewood Fire Road (Cemetery Fire Road feeds into Ridgewood before long), Ridgewood Fire Roadbut Cemetery is lined on both sides with eucalyptus, while Ridgewood offers northern views. Turn right on the connector and then turn left onto Ridgewood Fire Road.
     Level Ridgewood Fire Road, open to hikers, equestrians, and cyclists, heads northwest. The last of the eucalyptus forest blocks views to the left, but on the right there are unobstructed views north to Big Rock Ridge, and east to San Pedro Mountain, the blue-roofed Marin Civic Center, and the bay. Some coyote brush and a few shrubby oaks dot the grassland, which is scored with deerpaths and a trail that drifts downhill and out of the preserve. Cemetery Fire Road enters from the left at 0.92 mile, and soon after, at 1.00 mile, a trail shoots uphill to the right at an unsigned junction. Stay to the left on Ridgewood Fire Road.Footpath shortcuts the fire road
     Ridgewood Fire Road undulates gently, then flattens out again. The hillside drops away on the left, and some paths have been worn into the grassland, creating short but steep (and unsanctioned) routes back to the trailhead at Sorich Ranch Park. Continue on Ridgewood Fire Road to an unsigned junction with a legal shortcut path on the left, at 1.23 miles. Turn left.
      The unnamed path skirts the hilltop as it runs between Ridgewood and Tomahawk Fire Roads. Coast live oak, as well as clumps of sagebrush and yellow star thistle line the moderately steep narrow trail. Watch your step, but take the time to enjoy views of Mount Tamalpais and Pine Mountain. At 1.42 miles, the trail ends at an unsigned junction with Tomahawk Fire Road. Turn left and after just a few steps (at 1.47 miles), turn left again, onto unsigned (and officially unnamed) Sorich Fire Road.
     The multi-use fire road plummets downhill to the south, leaving the open space preserve and returning to San Anselmo's Sorich Ranch Park. Sorich Fire RoadCoyote brush gives way to graceful coast live and valley oak. The parking lot is visible downslope to the left, as well as the eucalyptus swathed hillsides visited via Sorich Park Trail, Cemetery Fire Road, and Ridgewood Fire Road. The descent is over quickly, as you return to residential San Anselmo. Sorich Fire Road adopts a more forgiving pace, turns sharply left, and dissolves into a narrow footpath. Bear right at an unsigned junction with pavement (private property) and descend to San Francisco Boulevard on a short stretch of steps. At the bottom (at 1.86 miles), turn left and walk on San Francisco Boulevard through Sorich Ranch Park to the trailhead parking lot.

Total distance: 1.95 miles
Last hiked: Friday, July 27, 2001