Bay Area

Weekend Escape: A Redwood Hike at Samuel P. Taylor State Park

Thursday August 6, 2015

With Presidio Parkway finally open after years of construction, our eyes are firmly set on Marin and other points north. We’ve been avoiding the weekend construction traffic for so long that we nearly sprung for the car the day the Parkway opened.

Our first adventure took us to Samuel P. Taylor State Park, a 2,700 acre park situated in Marin County between San Rafael and Point Reyes, about an hour drive from San Francisco.

The park includes both rolling hill grasslands as well as dark, dense redwood groves. It’s a choose your own adventure, depending on what kind of hike you’re in the mood for.




We pulled up one silent Sunday morning, the air shockingly sweet and still. The sun shone down in spots, illuminating a picnic table here, a patch of clover there, in the otherwise densely dark redwood grove.

We opted for an easy toddler hike along Lagunitas Creek, clamboring over roots and ducking under branches and elaborate spider webs. Down below, we could see campers waking up to coffee and bacon and testing toes in the creek.

The humble creek is actually the home of the largest spawning site for coho salmon in the central California coast. Every winter, for thousands of years now, coho salmon come from all over the ocean to spawn in Lagunitas Creek. The best time of year to see them is January.




Unlike Purisma Creek or Muir Woods, the trail at Samuel P. Taylor park felt wild and delightfully overgrown. The redwood forest was beaming with lush undergrowth, not the stark serenity of Muir Woods or Avenue of the Giants. Our toddler found so many interesting things to inspect, it was difficult to get her to walk more than 2 or 3 feet before she was back down analyzing something new. (In other words, perfect for a leisurely stroll when you can take pictures and drink coffee while someone else (in this case, Nature) occupies your kid.)




The park has numerous beautifully-situated camping sites, some looking out on Lagunitas Creek. The sites we saw were flat and roomy, shrouded in redwoods, with low separations to cordon off one family’s campsite from another’s. The sites had outdoor grills, water supplies, picnic tables, and metal food lockers as well. (The park is booked for the summer, so if you live here, you may consider going once tourist season dies down.)

The park is ideally situated for a Bay Area day trip adventure. Once you’ve finished your hike, you’re only miles from a delicious lunch at Cow Girl Creamery in Point Reyes Station and barbecued oysters on Tamalpais Bay. Or, head back down to 101-South for lunch in San Rafael, Mill Valley, or Sausalito.

Happy adventuring!



Looking for some other reasons to cross the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend? Check out some other day trip ides in Marin:

A Trip to Cowgirl Creamery and Point Reyes’ Tule Elk Reserve

Hiking Around the Marin Headlands and a Golden Gate Bridge Sunset (as well as a trip to the Marine Mammal Center)

Muir Woods and a Napa Valley Tasting Tour


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