This windswept ridge high atop the Tiburon Peninsula is truly one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on this planet. The battle to preserve Ring Mountain serves as a shining example of how the efforts of a few determined individuals can ultimately benefit future generations. Due to the efforts of concerned citizens (led by local conservationist Phyllis Ellman) this area was saved from development when it was purchased by the Nature Conservancy. In 1995, the land (367 acres) was deeded over to MCOSD.
The unique geology and microclimate of this location provide a home for a number of rare plants. The soils on the ridge are heavily laced with the mineral serpentine. Soils derived from this mineral are toxic to most plants, but a number of species have evolved mechanisms to survive on serpentine. As a result, where serpentine soils are found, there are usually isolated populations of rare plants. The most extreme example of this phenomenon is the Tiburon Mariposa Lily, which is found on the upper slopes of Ring Mountain, and nowhere else on earth.
There are several access points to the trails on this preserve, but the best approach is to start at the trailhead on Paradise Drive and follow the Phyllis Ellman Loop Trail to the top. During spring, the wildflowers along the way can be breathtaking, as are the views of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area at your feet.
North access: From Highway 101 in Corte Madera, take the Paradise Dr/Tamalpais Dr exit east onto San Clemente Dr, which merges into Paradise Dr, and follow approximately one mile. Trailhead is on the right just past Westward Dr.
South access: From Hwy 101 in Mill Valley, take the Tiburon Blvd/E Blithedale Ave exit east on Tiburon Blvd and turn left at Reed Ranch Rd. MCOSD gate is at the end.
East access: From Highway 101 in Corte Madera, take the Paradise Dr/Tamalpais Dr exit east onto San Clemente Dr, which merges into Paradise Dr, and follow approximately 1.5 miles. Turn right at Taylor Rd, MCOSD gate is at the end.
Visit walkbikemarin.org, transitandtrails.org, 511.org, or dial 511 to find out about alternative transportation and public transit options from your location.
Famous for flowers, but also one of the best places around to see butterflies. Look and listen for Rock Wrens – this is one of the few places in Marin where they can be seen all year.