Posted by: Sandy Steinman | December 2, 2012

Marin County Naturalist Walks

The winter schedule is out for the Marin County Parks Naturalist-led walks:

NATURALIST

These outings are for adults who are interested in the diverse flora and fauna of Marin County. Our walks cover a variety of topics; some are quite specific, others are more general, but we never fail to take a moment to marvel at whatever natural wonders we encounter. Binoculars, a pocket sized magnifying lens, and your favorite field guide(s) are recommended for all walks. Most of the walks are moderately paced and cover less than 5 miles. Walks that are longer or more strenuous are noted in the descriptions. Bring a lunch if you plan to stay all day, and remember to bring plenty of water.

click read more to see schedule and information about the walks:

Tuesday, December 4. 10am to 2pm

Birds at Rush Creek

These tidal wetlands at the edge of San Pablo Bay are a fantastic place to appreciate our winter birds. Ducks (in gaudy breeding plumage), shorebirds, raptors, and many types of land birds should keep us entertained all day. The road sometimes gets quite muddy, so bring appropriate footwear. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the Pinheiro Fire Rd gate on Binford Rd in Novato. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take exit 463 for Atherton Ave east. Turn left onto Binford Rd; the gate is on the right.

Saturday, December 8. 10am to 2pm

Mushrooms at Indian Tree

The mixed forests of this Novato preserve usually host an amazing array of mushrooms at this time of year. With luck we’ll make it to the top where we’ll enjoy spectacular views in every direction (Distance: 6.5 miles; elevation gain: 1,300 feet). This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the trailhead on Vineyard Rd in Novato. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take exit 463 for San Marin Dr west 2.7 miles. (San Marin Dr turns into Sutro Ave at Novato Blvd). Follow Sutro Ave 1 mile, turn right onto Vineyard Rd and follow 1 mile. Trailhead is on the left where the paved road becomes a dirt road.

Thursday, December 13. 10am to 2pm

Mt Burdell

Winter wildlife and the vibrant green slopes of this Novato preserve will remind us that the wet season is the growing season here in Marin. This can be a great place to find many different mushrooms, and we can also visit some early blooming manzanitas and see what sort of pollinators the flowers are attracting. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the gate on San Andreas Dr in Novato. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take exit 463 for San Marin Dr west 2.3 miles. Turn right onto San Andreas Dr and follow approximately 0.5 mile. The gate is on the right (before dead end).

Tuesday, December 18. 10am to 12pm

Salmon of San Geronimo Valley

Each year, several species of Pacific salmon migrate up certain creeks to breed. We’ll look for evidence of fish as we discuss the biology of these remarkable animals. The timing of these activities is subject to numerous environmental variables, but if we’re lucky we might have a chance to observe spawning activity. Bring polarized glasses if you have them to reduce glare on the water. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. Shannon Burke will lead. Questions: Contact Shannon at (415) 893-9520 or SBurke@marincounty.org. Meet at the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area west of Lagunitas. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in San Rafael, take exit 452 for Central San Rafael west. Follow 3rd St approximately 1 mile, continue on 2nd St, which merges into 4th St. 4th St turns into Red Hill Ave after 0.6 mile; follow for 0.5 mile. Stay right onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd and follow 9.9 miles, the parking area is on the right (just past Shafter Bridge).

Saturday, January 5. 10am to 1pm

Birds at Bolinas Lagoon

We’ll start the day looking for land birds in the willows and alders of Pine Gulch Delta, and then we’ll scan the waters of this unique estuary that attracts a tremendous variety of waterfowl and shorebirds each winter. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the Bob Stewart trailhead on Olema-Bolinas Rd in Bolinas. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Mill Valley, take exit 445B for Hwy 1 N/Stinson Beach. Follow signs to stay on Hwy 1 N and go approximately 17 miles. Turn left onto Olema-Bolinas Rd and follow approximately 1 mile. The access to the Bob Stewart trailhead is on the left at the pullout, just east of the nursery.

Thursday, January 10. 10am to 1pm

Loma Alta – Old Railroad Grade

We will enjoy a slow stroll along the old railroad grade, a route that takes us in and out of a series of forested valleys separated by open grassland and coastal scrub habitats. We will employ a car shuttle so we can have a relaxing morning walk. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. Shannon Burke will lead. Questions: Contact Shannon at (415) 893-9520 or SBurke@marincounty.org. Meet at the end of Glen Drive. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in San Rafael, take exit 452 for Central San Rafael west. Follow 3rd St approximately 1 mile, continue on 2nd St, which merges into 4th St. 4th St turns into Red Hill Ave after 0.6 mile; follow for 0.5 mile. Stay right onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd and follow 3 miles, turn right onto Glen Dr and follow 0.5 mile to end (dead end).

Sunday, January 13. 10am to 3pm

Birds of Rush Creek with David Wimpfheimer

The combination of tidal wetlands, oak woodland, grasslands, and shrub habitats makes Rush Creek Preserve one of the most diverse sites in the county. On this 4 mile, one-way walk we will see a large variety of raptors, shorebirds, waterfowl, and land birds. Winter is actually the season of greatest diversity for many of the birds we’ll see on this outing and birds here are especially numerous. The road sometimes gets quite muddy, so bring appropriate footwear. We will employ a car shuttle. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. Questions: Contact Shannon at (415) 893-9520 or SBurke@marincounty.org. Meet at the Bahia trailhead near the end of Bahia Dr in Novato. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take exit 463 for Atherton Ave east approximately 1 mile. Turn left onto Bugeia Ln, which turns into Bahia Dr at the “y”. Follow Bahia Dr 0.5. Trailhead is on the left before Bahia Dr dead ends.

Thursday, January 17. 10am to 12pm

Birds at Stafford Lake

This reservoir on upper Novato Creek is a great place to see a variety of winter birds. We’ll stroll along the shore and enjoy flocks of ducks, while keeping an eye open for raptors overhead. We often see golden eagles here, and now and again a peregrine makes an appearance. The trees here are always a good place to see a variety of woodpeckers, and there are usually plenty of mixed flocks of songbirds passing through as well. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the area 3 parking lot at Stafford Lake Park in Novato (3549 Novato Blvd). DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take exit 463 for San Marin Dr west 2.9 miles. Turn right onto Novato Blvd and follow for 2.6 miles. The park is on the left. Turn left after the gate house and follow to the parking lot. Park entrance fee is waived for participants.

Wednesday, January 23. 10am to 3pm

White Hill

We’ll aim for lunch at the summit, but we’ll make the 1,000 foot ascent at a pace that will allow us to find plenty of mushrooms, birds, and other wildlife along the way. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the White Hill trailhead on Sir Francis Drake Blvd on White Hill. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in San Rafael, take exit 452 for Central San Rafael west. Follow 3rd St approximately 1 mile. Continue on 2nd St, which merges into 4th St. 4th St turns into Red Hill Ave after 0.6 mile; follow for 0.5 mile. Stay right onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd and follow 4.3 miles. Park in the big gravel pullout on the right side, below the crest of the hill.

Sunday, January 27. 10am to 2pm

Mushrooms at Indian Valley

The lush forests of this Novato preserve are an ideal place to see a variety of mushrooms. We’ll talk about their identification and the important role that fungi play in the ecosystem. Our route will include one sustained steep section, but we will take this part very slowly. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the College of Marin Indian Valley Campus in Novato, parking lot #6 (1800 Ignacio Blvd). DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take the Ignacio Blvd/Bel Marin Keys Blvd exit west on Ignacio Blvd approximately 2.5 miles all the way through campus. Parking lot #6 is adjacent to the police station.

Thursday, January 31. 10am to 1pm

Birds at Bolinas Lagoon

We’ll start the day looking for land birds in the willows and alders of Pine Gulch Delta, and then we’ll scan the waters of this unique estuary that attracts a tremendous variety of waterfowl and shorebirds each winter. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. Shannon Burke will lead. Questions: Contact Shannon at (415) 893-9520 or SBurke@marincounty.org. Meet at the Bob Stewart trailhead on Olema-Bolinas Rd in Bolinas. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Mill Valley, take exit 445B for Hwy 1 N/Stinson Beach. Follow signs to stay on Hwy 1 N and go approximately 17 miles. Turn left onto Olema-Bolinas Rd and follow approximately 1 mile. The access to the Bob Stewart trailhead is on the left at the pullout, just east of the nursery.

Tuesday, February 5. 10am to 2pm

Cascade Canyon

There’s no better time than this to enjoy the beauty of this preserve, the creeks are flowing, and the waterfall should be spectacular. We can enjoy wildflowers as well as mushrooms, and if the sun is shining, we might even find some of the first butterflies of the season. When the creek is full, we have to use a trail that is cut into a stone bank above the water; this narrow section can be slippery and challenging. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the gate at the end of Cascade Dr in Fairfax. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in San Rafael, take exit 452 for Central San Rafael west. Follow 3rd St approximately 1 mile. Continue on 2nd St, which merges into 4th St. 4th St turns into Red Hill Ave after 0.6 mile; follow for 0.5 mile. Stay right onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd and follow 1.8 miles. Left onto Bank St, right onto Bolinas Rd, soft right to continue onto Cascade Dr (at the stop sign), and follow 1.5 miles to the gate (dead end). Parking is limited.

Sunday, February 10. 10am to 2pm

Birds at Rush Creek

These tidal wetlands at the edge of San Pablo Bay are a fantastic place to appreciate our winter birds. Ducks (in gaudy breeding plumage), shorebirds, raptors, and many types of land birds should keep us entertained all day. The road sometimes gets quite muddy, so bring appropriate footwear. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the Pinheiro Fire Rd gate on Binford Rd in Novato. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take exit 463 for Atherton Ave east. Turn left onto Binford Rd; the gate is on the right.

Thursday, February 14. 10am to 2pm

Early Flowers at Mt Burdell

One of the many rare plants found here in Marin County is an inconspicuous nodding white lily called the fragrant fritillary. We will visit a small population that should be in bloom this early in the season. We will then head up the trail to see some other early bloomers such as shooting star, milkmaids, star lily, and maybe a few surprises. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the gate on Simmons Ln in Novato. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take exit 463 for San Marin Dr west, follow San Marin Dr 1.2 miles. Turn right onto Simmons Ln and follow to the end (dead end).

Saturday, February 16. 10am to 3pm

Loma Alta – 680 Trail

We’ll meet at a trailhead in Lucas Valley (elevation 150 feet), and then carpool up to the Big Rock trailhead (650 feet). It sounds like a nice 500 foot stroll downhill, but we will have to go over (or around) Loma Alta along the way, so pack some extra water and an energy bar for this 7.5 mile walk that will include the beautiful new 680 trail. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the trailhead on Lucas Valley Rd directly across from Mount Muir Ct in San Rafael. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in San Rafael, take exit 456 for Lucas Valley Rd west 2.1 miles. Turn left into the parking area on the left (or south side) of Lucas Valley Rd.

Sunday, February 24. 10am to 2pm

Indian Valley

By now the treefrogs and newts will have started their breeding activity, and the toads might already be arriving at the pools here. We will discuss the life histories of these amphibians and then walk up the ridge to look for wildflowers and other signs of spring. There is one sustained steep section, but we will take it very slowly. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the College of Marin Indian Valley Campus in Novato, parking lot #6 (1800 Ignacio Blvd). DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Novato, take the Ignacio Blvd/Bel Marin Keys Blvd exit west on Ignacio Blvd approximately 2.5 miles all the way through campus. Parking lot #6 is adjacent to the police station.

Thursday, February 28. 10am to 2pm

Baltimore Canyon

We will use a car shuttle to allow us to start this walk on a ridge above Phoenix Lake and spend the day meandering down to our original meeting place. We will look for early flowers like fetid adder’s tongue and Indian warrior, and listen for the song of the orange-crowned warbler to remind us that spring is right around the corner. This walk is for adults. We request that no animals (except service animals) attend. Heavy rain may cancel. If questionable weather, call (415) 893-9527 on the morning of the walk for a recorded message to see if the walk is cancelled. David Herlocker will lead. Questions: Contact David at (415) 893-9508 or DHerlocker@marincounty.org. Meet at the gate at the end of Crown Rd in Kent Woodlands. DIRECTIONS: From Hwy 101 in Larkspur, take exit 450B for Sir Francis Drake Blvd west 2.1 miles. Turn left onto College Ave, right onto Woodland Rd, left onto Evergreen Dr. Continue uphill to the intersection with Ridgecrest; 50 feet uphill from this junction, left onto Crown Rd, and follow to end (dead end).

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