Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Barnabe Fire Road
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.
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.
- Good Earth Natural Foods in Fairfax now feels less like the hippie grocery store that it used to be and more like a Whole Foods, but it still has a nice selection of prepared foods like hot burritos, apple fritters, and wraps.
- M.H. Bread & Butter, in San Anselmo, is the best bakery in the area, but it's expensive and it's always really busy. Excellent pastries, sandwiches, and breakfast plates.
- 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 good 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 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 inside 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, 2016 David Baselt