Sometimes when we zoom along a freeway, I spot places to walk. We tried one last week at Rush Creek Open Preserve off Hwy 101 in Novato.
A few left turns and a drop off the pavement brought us to lovely view into a shaded path. Rush Creek runs along the Pineheiro Ridge Fire Rd. Wetlands stretched out before us. Across the creek and wetlands to the north is the Marin County Airport. To the east are the Petaluma River and more wetlands.
We were aware of Hwy 101’s noise, but the vastness of the wetland view and the lushness in the oaks’ shade made it unimportant. Clarkia and Ithurial Spears bloomed on the hillside to our right. Redwinged blackbirds sang and flew among the reeds. Swallows darted overhead.
The path was a dusty adventure and as we went around the first curve we were in sunlight. Morning glories and hairy cat’s ears bloomed among the grasses. Unfortunately, Harding grass was one of those.
Every time the grade changes around a curve, we were in shade. Finally, at 1.5 mi we were at Cemetary Marsh. Most of the other walkers were out for a real hike with backpacks and walking poles and headed around the marsh and uphill.
Because we had our new dog with us and he’s not up to longer walks, I left Mike with him in the shade and went across the marsh and on to see what was around the next bend.
Intriguing part about this walk, there’s always one more bend to see what’s different. One of the advantages to be a committed walker on the flat, with all the other hikers going uphill, is that I had the trail to myself. I walked along Black John Slough for a while and then along the Petaluma River Marsh wildlife area. I had fine views over the wetlands towards the San Pablo Bay.
We would certainly trek here again. Maybe even some ridge trail, it’s not too steep.
No water. No bathrooms.
Directions: Hwy 101 to Atherton, turn north on Binford Rd (parallels Hwy 101)
Distance and More hikes: To the Marsh is about 1.5 mi. Some people went uphill to Bahia Ridge – and some off from the marsh loop to Pinheiro Ridge Fire Rd. Add more distance with the path along Petaluma River Marsh wildlife area. There’s a map at the trailhead.
See you on the trail!
Pictures by Mike Millar & Lynn Millar