Marin County Parks and Open Space Department

This bayside preserves is a remnant of a grand plan to create a subdivision that would have resembled the city of Venice, Italy (complete with canals and gondolas). Thankfully, the plan failed, as did several subsequent development schemes. Birdlife is abundant here; waterfowl cruise the channels at high tide, while shorebirds and rails search along the muddy edges when the waters retreat.

Santa Margarita DetailIn spite of the fact that the island covers just a little over four and a half acres (the preserve is just under 9 acres total) and is surrounded by tidal marshland it has a diverse plant community – somewhat of a microcosm of what you might find on San Pedro Ridge to the south. There are three species of oak as well as Madrones and California bay trees covering the center of the island providing habitat for ferns and other shade loving species including California pipe-vine which attracts the pipevine swallowtail butterfly. Perhaps the best way to enjoy this cool forest oasis is to follow the path that ascends just beyond the bridge to the rocky hilltop. The open grassland between the trees and the high tide mark has wildflowers like blue dicks and checker bloom. This little slice of “upland” habitat attracts an interesting assemblage of birds, butterflies, and other animals.


From Hwy 101 in San Rafael, take the N San Pedro Rd exit east and turn left at Meadow Dr. MCOSD gate is at the end.

Visit,,, or dial 511 to find out about alternative transportation and public transit options from your location.

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Birds, Wetlands


24 hours

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