Located in a redwood-filled gorge a short drive west of Marin County's suburbs, Samuel P. Taylor State Park is a popular recreation area for local residents. The park offers a day use (picnic) area and camping, plus the wide and level Cross Marin Trail, which makes for easy cycling under second-growth redwoods. More challenging trails climb the grassy hilltops around the valley and offer nice views of the Marin countryside.
Busy Sir Francis Drake Boulevard passes through the gorge, and the campsites, picnic areas, and the Cross-Marin Trail all get nearly constant noise from cars roaring by on their way to Point Reyes and the West Marin towns. Even so, Samuel P. Taylor is still one of the more scenic and enjoyable parks in Marin.
* Pioneer Tree Trail (2.7 miles)
The actual Pioneer Tree is a little underwhelming, but this trail also passes through an attractive patch of old-growth redwoods located just outside the day use and camping areas.
** Bolinas Ridge (10.6 miles)
On this amazingly scenic loop you'll leave the state park and amble through hilltop cow pastures with sweeping views over the rolling grasslands of the Olema Valley.
** Barnabe Peak (5.8 miles)
This hike features a steep climb to some really magnificent views of the San Geronimo Valley and its surroundings.
If you're driving north on Highway 101, take the San Anselmo exit and drive west on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard through San Anselmo and Fairfax. The road passes through the San Geronimo Valley and, just past the tiny town of Lagunitas, enters the redwoods. A wooden sign on your left that says "Camp Taylor" marks the park entrance. There's a $6 fee to park here. If you continue down the road another mile, you'll find a pullout on the left side of the road (opposite the Devil's Gulch trailhead) where you can park for free.
One of the best things about Samuel P. Taylor State Park is the wealth of food choices available on the way to and from the park, especially along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
© 2007, 2012, 2016 David Baselt