By Alexa Chipman Apr. 14, 2017
Stretches of Marin County are surrounded by sentinels of towering redwoods that can be dark enough to require headlights when driving. Roy’s Redwoods Preserve is a compact area of loop trails off one of those roads—Nicasio Valley Road. Next to San Geronimo Golf Course, some trails run right along the golfing green, while others dive deep into woods of fern and moss that feel far from civilization.
The preserve is technically three areas—French Ranch (hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians), Maurice Thorner Memorial (hikers only), and Roy’s Redwoods (hikers or equestrians). The equestrian friendly areas can get rather muddy during the winter, so don’t wear shoes that you are fond of.
Roy’s Redwoods Loop Trail
Starting from the parking lot, it runs the perimeter in an easy climb through redwood trees, into traditional oak forests, along the golf course in broad sunlit meadows, and back into redwoods. Add onto it by branching off at the bridge toward Thorner Ridge Trail that runs out to Lagunitas School, then walk back to finish the loop.
At times, it is unclear where the trail is, especially at the beginning, so keep an eye out for animal or unofficial trails to make sure you don’t accidentally wander off on one of those instead. The loop is 2.3 miles long, narrow, and not a good choice for picnics; this is a pleasant afternoon stroll to stretch your legs. What I enjoy about it is that the area is largely undiscovered, which allows for a quiet walk, rather than constantly moving aside for other hikers.
If you prefer biking or using a wider path, start from the School Trail, which follows along the road, branch off on the French Ranch Fire Road for a mile, and go left or right along the Barnabe Mountain Fire Road, watching for private property markers, since it is the edge of the park. This has steeper inclines, but is a better option if you don’t enjoy walking along dropoffs on a foot-wide trail.
Why hike at Roy’s Redwoods?
- Short trails that don’t take long
- No steep inclines that are difficult to hike
- Tranquil redwood groves
- Conveniently off Sir Francis Drake near San Anselmo
- Free access, although there is limited parking