Perhaps the most popular asset of this 522 acre preserve is the adjacent wetlands, where thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl congregate each fall and winter. Outside of the Point Reyes Peninsula, this is one of the best birding locations in the North Bay; our conservative list here shows 196 regularly occurring species. The broad, level Pinheiro Fire Road follows the south edge of the preserve and offers unimpeded views of a huge expanse of tidal wetland (managed by the California Department of Fish and Game) to the north.
The preserve is composed of a relatively low ridge that runs from Highway 101 to the northeast, where it drops off to a small wetland known as Cemetery Marsh. This ridge is not traversed by any maintained trails; so many species of wildlife flourish here in quiet solitude. Further to the west is another low ridge covered with mixed broadleaf forests, including the largest stand of blue oaks in the county. This 200 acre parcel was acquired by the District in 2003 after a major fundraising effort spearheaded by the Marin Audubon Society. From the eastern end of this preserve, visitors can look out across the Petaluma River delta to Sonoma County and beyond.
From Highway 101 in Novato, take the Atherton Ave/San Marin Dr exit east on Atherton Ave and turn left at Bugeia Ln (becomes Bahia Dr). Trailhead is at the end of Bahia Dr on the left.
From Highway 101 in Novato, take the Atherton Ave/San Marin Dr exit east on Atherton Ave and immediately turn left at Binford Rd. MCOSD gate is on the right at the edge of the marsh.
Visit walkbikemarin.org, transitandtrails.org, 511.org, or dial 511 to find out about alternative transportation and public transit options from your location.
Check out this bird list; one of the most extensive of any place in Marin. The bordering wetlands are teeming with waterfowl and shorebirds all winter, while the oak studded ridge has a great assemblage of landbirds. Great butterflies, lots of lizards, snakes, salamanders and even toads – this place has it all!