The Ignacio Valley (885 acres), Loma Verde, Pacheco Valley, and Indian Valley preserves form a contiguous band of undisturbed open space encompassing virtually the entire northern slope of eastern Big Rock Ridge. The slopes are steep, the canyons deep, and first-time visitors never fail to marvel at the expanses of rugged chaparral and woodland found here. Most of the fire roads that run through these preserves follow ridgelines, and all of the access routes are strenuous, but the spectacular views and the sense of solitude make the climbing worthwhile.
The relative inaccessibility of these canyons provides refuge for healthy populations of wildlife. Many of the slopes and ridges are composed of sandstone which favors the growth of madrone trees, thus there are many forests here featuring nearly pure stands of madrone. In winter when the madrone berries ripen, thousands of berry seeking birds such as cedar waxwings, band tailed pigeons, hermit thrushes, and American robins congregate here. The fire roads in the Pacheco Valle Preserve connect with roads and trails that lead through public lands managed by the Lucas Valley Homeowners Association and the Marinwood Community Services District (which borders our Lucas Valley preserve). Altogether, these unspoiled tracts of land allow for long day hikes (or rides) over the entire east end of Big Rock Ridge.
From Highway 101 in Novato, take the Ignacio Blvd exit west towards the College of Marin Indian Valley Campus, turn left at Fairway Dr, and turn left at Winged Foot Dr. MCOSD gate is at the end by Carnoustie Heights.
Visit walkbikemarin.org, transitandtrails.org, 511.org, or dial 511 to find out about alternative transportation and public transit options from your location.
These sandstone slopes are prime habitat for groves of Madrone trees, so they are also prime places to see birds like Band-tailed pigeons and Cedar Waxwings that feast on the Madrone berries in the winter. Coyotes and Gray Foxes love the Manzanita berries that ripen in the fall.