Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Barnabe Fire Road
Occupying a dense band of mostly second-growth redwoods 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 the redwoods. More challenging trails lead up to the grassy hilltops around the valley and offer nice views of the Marin countryside.
Busy Sir Francis Drake Boulevard passes through the park, 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.
Old-growth redwood hikes
* 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.
The park's picnic area is in a shady second-growth redwood grove
Getting to Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Click here to see the park's location in Google Maps or in Google Street View.
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.
- Fairfax's newly expanded Good Earth Natural Foods now feels less like a hippie grocery store and more like a Whole Foods, but it still has a nice selection of prepared foods like hot burritos, apple fritters, and wraps.
- Just across the street, the Fat Angel Bakery has savory turnovers like ham and fontina, or maybe turkey and pesto, that make great trail lunches. There's a nice assortment of sweet baked goods as well. The pear and blue cheese scones are surprisingly delicious.
- Closer to the park, in the little town of Lagunitas, is Lagunitas Grocery, a small stare that makes good sandwiches. The store is hard to miss since it sits right on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
- Arti Indian Cafe is in Lagunitas, next to Lagunitas Grocery and just outside the park. It serves pretty decent Indian food, but the real draw is the small-town location in woodsy West Marin, with outdoor seating and redwood-covered hills rising all around.
- Iron Springs Pub and Brewery, is an enjoyable and wildly popular suburban pub that's become the standard post-hike/ride spot for locals. The location in a strip mall isn't the most attractive, but the pub is bright and modern, the food and beer are great, and prices are reasonable. On any given weekend about half the tables have small children.
- Vladimir's Czechoslovakian Restaurant, in the remote Point Reyes town of Inverness, serves satisfying if somewhat pricey meals. The atmosphere is the opposite of Iron Springs — dark and old-fashioned.
© 2007, 2012 David Baselt