Located at the west end of Ignacio Valley, this 558 acre preserve wraps around the Indian Valley campus of the College of Marin. There are a variety of trails and roads in this preserve that offer loop hikes, mostly through shaded forests of oak and bay trees. The aptly named Waterfall Trail leads to a beautiful seasonal cascade that is particularly worth visiting in spring when the water is flowing and the surrounding slopes are dotted with wildflowers. Near the beginning of the Indian Valley Fire Road, just past the college baseball fields, is a small pond that is home to a surprising array of freshwater animals, including western toads, tree frogs, newts and an assortment of insects. Many local schoolchildren come to this tiny pond in the winter and spring to study these creatures, so we ask our visitors to please keep their dogs out of the water here and at nearby Pacheco Pond.
Traversing the north facing slope above the valley are several shaded trails that are particularly refreshing on hot days. On the other side of the valley, the Ad and Gloria Schwindt Trail offers a pleasant loop through cool oak and bay forests. There is usually ample parking in the lot at the west end of the Indian Valley College campus, but remember that this is a fee lot on weekdays, and weekends.
East access: From Highway 101 in Novato, take the Ignacio Blvd exit west until you reach the College of Marin Indian Valley Campus. Drive to the far west end and park in the lot near the campus police station (parking fee). Trailhead entrance is on the right near the station.
West access: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take the Rowland Ave exit (462A) west, turn right at South Novato Boulevard, turn left at Arthur St, turn left at Indian Valley Rd, and follow approximately .9 miles. MCOSD gate is on the left. Parking along Indian Valley Rd is extremely limited. Park responsibly: Do not block streets, gates, or driveways.
Visit walkbikemarin.org, transitandtrails.org, 511.org, or dial 511 to find out about alternative transportation and public transit options from your location.
The best place to observe amphibians in all of Marin, the small pools that have formed along the creek in the main valley provide perfect breeding habitat for California Newts, Sierran (Pacific) Treefrogs, and Western Toads. Birding here is excellent too – a warbler lovers paradise.