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 Larkspur, take the exit for Tamalpais Dr west. Turn right onto Tamalpais Dr, slight left onto Redwood Ave, take the second right onto Corte Madera Ave, continue onto Magnolia Ave, left onto Madrone Ave, right onto Redwood Ave, left onto Oak Rd, continue onto Wilson Way, and follow to end (dead end).
West access: from Hwy 101 in Larkspur, take the exit for Sir Francis Drake Blvd west 2.1 miles. Turn left onto College Ave, right onto Woodland Rd, left onto Evergreen Dr. Continue uphill to the intersection with Ridgecrest; 50-feet uphill from this junction, left onto Crown Rd, and follow to end (dead 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.