At the headwaters of Larkspur Creek, this 193 acre preserve encompasses a lovely canyon filled with history, stately trees, and a spectacular waterfall. The trail system here connects to several of the main fire roads that traverse the north slopes of Mount Tamalpais, as well as to other MCOSD preserves including King Mountain and Blithedale Summit. This canyon was once home to some of the largest redwoods in the Bay area, but all were cut in less than a decade to build the homes and businesses in rapidly growing San Francisco. Many redwoods have re-sprouted, but now the canyon is shaded by a mix of trees that includes bays, madrones, and Douglas firs.
Certain parts of the creek remain wet year round, so there are young steelhead and California Pacific giant salamanders lurking in the deeper pools. At a wide spot in the canyon, you can see the remnants of a stone dam that once created a small reservoir. The dam was dynamited in the 1920’s as a result of a drowning. Further up the creek is the quarry that yielded the stones for the dam, as well as the Larkspur restaurant known as “the Blue Rock Inn.” At the head of the canyon lies Dawn Falls, a spectacular 30-foot cascade during the wet winter months through early spring.
East access: From Hwy 101 in Corte Madera, take the Paradise Dr/Tamalpais Dr exit west on Tamalpais Dr, turn right at Corte Madera Ave (becomes Magnolia Ave), and turn left at Madrone Ave (becomes Valley Way). Trailhead is at the end.
West access: From Hwy 101 in Larkspur, take the Sir Francis Drake Blvd exit west towards Kentfield, turn left at College Ave, turn right at Woodland Rd, turn left at Evergreen Dr, continue uphill, and turn left at Crown Rd just past Ridgecrest Dr. MCOSD gate is at the end.
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Habitats here range from redwoods along a permanent stream to chaparral covered slopes. Pileated Woodpeckers and California Giant Salamanders are common here in the main canyon, look and listen for Bushtits, Wrentits, and chipmunks on the drier hillsides.