Discover & Learn

Get outside and explore your parks and preserves this spring.

Rangers Recommend

Mount Burdell Preserve

Giant oak tree in Bowman Canyon

This preserve holds some of the mightiest valley oaks in Marin. There are also impressive coast live oaks, black oaks, and blue oaks. Start at the gate at the end of San Andreas Drive, heading out on San Andreas Fire Road. Turn right onto Middle Burdell Fire Road, passing the seasonal vernal pool called Hidden Lake. After crossing Old Quarry Trail, take a sharp right at the second junction, on to Salt Lick Fire Road, where hillsides above the grasslands are dotted with valley oaks. Follow to the junction where it joins San Carlos Fire Road, which loops right onto San Marin Fire Road, heading back past the water tanks to where you started on San Andreas.

  • 4.5 miles
  • 700 foot elevation gain
  • Strenuous

Indian Valley Preserve

Sun shining through oak branches

Oak woodlands offer a glimpse of what Marin County looked like before European settlement. Start on Ad & Gloria Schwindt Trail through oak and bay forest, continuing on to Indian Valley Fire Road. At the next junction, turn right on to Buzzard Burn Fire Road, crossing the creek bed through bay, buckeye, madrone, manzanita, coast live oak, blue oak, and black oak. The road becomes Witzel Trail. Stay straight until joining Susan Alexander Trail, which is a steep uphill through buckeye, California bay, and black oak woodland. Pass the waterfall, taking Ken Harth Trail on the right. Switch backs loop you to Pacheco Pond Fire Road, along the parking area. Plenty of paid parking is available in the college campus lot.

  • 4 miles
  • 500 foot elevation gain
  • Moderate difficulty


Naturalist Notes

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Red-capped, clown-faced flocks are easy to spot in oak woodlands. They live in big noisy groups; listen for their raucous, laugh-like calls. In fall they get busy, drilling holes and stashing acorns in trees, fence posts, and other wooden structures. A single tree may hold thousands of hidden morsels, serving as a communal food pantry through winter. The birds carefully tend stored food, making sure acorns are wedged tightly so other animals can’t snatch. They also practice cooperative breeding with all the adults working together to raise the young from a single nest. Add sightings of Melanerpes formicivorus to iNaturalist.

Volunteer Opportunities

Young girl planting native flowers at Creekside


No group volunteer events are being scheduled at this time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Park and open space volunteer coordinators continue working to coordinate limited stewardship opportunities in some locations. For more information, please contact volunteer coordinators: