Hike Date: April 13, 2013
Distance: ~ 9 miles
Trail(s): Rueben Kaelher Trail, Ohair Park Trail, Little Mountain Trail, Doe Hill Fire Road, Stafford Lake Trail, Upper Meadow Trail, Deer Camp Trail, Big Trees Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail
Where’s it at? North Novato, CA west of 101


This great hike in Novato, CA at the north end of the San Francisco Bay Area takes you through 4 different parks. Starting at Ohair Park, onward to Little Mountain OSP, a short stroll through Verissimo OSP and on through Indian Trees Open Space Preserve. Dogs, hikers and horses are allowed on all of the trails but bikers only on the fire trails.

This hike is gorgeous in spring! A lot of wildflowers, long grassy hills that roll in the wind, oak forest, redwood forest and a couple trickling creeks. We started out in Ohair Park which is a single track trail through oaks and along a stream. I had lightly sprained my foot last weekend so wasn’t sure if it would be a painful day or not, but I wore my leather hiking boots with good ankle and arch support and everything went well. The trail makes its way uphill and an easy grade with a couple switchbacks. Soon you emerge from the shade with a nice housing devlopment on the left and gorgeous hills on the right chock full of wildflowers, as you enter Little Mountain Open Space. The trail here widens to a fire road as the sun and a nice breeze pay a visit. On the way back we saw a pretty big garter snake basking in the sunshine taking up the entire trail. He looked so peaceful and happy.

Shortly after we turned left and entered into Verissimo Hills Open Space where we saw a couple deer. You are again given a tree canopy of oaks as you climb through switchbacks along a trail strewn with flowers. Eventually you again emerge into a wide open grassy hill area as you arrive at the Stafford Lake Trail. There’s a really nice view of the lake and golf course from up here and it’s beautiful when everything is green. I found the large solar power plant to be interesting…presumably it either runs the Stafford Lake area or the Indian Valley Golf Course’s power.

I could hardly believe it! As you approach a water tower toward the top of this trail there is a water spigot! I’d already brought my half frozen ice cold water but Romeo definitely enjoyed getting a drink here. I have very very rarely seen water supplied anywhere on any bay area trail other than occasionally at the trailhead! We saw a family of wild turkeys near the water tower gobbling away and being skiddish as always.

Heading down the hills into the valley floor we entered Indian Tree Preserve. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were soon entering a redwood forest with some fairly large trees. One thing I took note of was the lack of ferns and moss that you usually see among the redwoods…not sure why. Apparently this part of the trail is closed during the winter as it gets pretty soggy, but aside from a few mud crossings it was great hiking on this mid-April day. This is probably the only remotely steep section of trail as you climb back up on single track trail and are rewarded with more great views of the lake.

The Big Trees Trail gave this hike a little bit of loop but at the end of it we backtracked on the same trails that we hiked in on.

This was a fantastic hike and there were so many options to change the path or increase the distance. I hope to go back here and do more of the trails within Indian Tree Preserve, soon. This is definitely a set of parks that are worth travelling for a visit. Apparently it stays pretty cool here all summer with breeze and occasionally fog.

Photos from Hiking Ohair, Verissimo, Little Mountain and Indian Tree (click to enlarge)

Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve
Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve
http://timsartoris.com/hiking-ohair-park-stafford-lake-and-indian-tree-preserve http://timsartoris.com/hiking-ohair-park-stafford-lake-and-indian-tree-preserve http://timsartoris.com/hiking-ohair-park-stafford-lake-and-indian-tree-preserve
http://timsartoris.com/hiking-ohair-park-stafford-lake-and-indian-tree-preserve http://timsartoris.com/hiking-ohair-park-stafford-lake-and-indian-tree-preserve http://timsartoris.com/hiking-ohair-park-stafford-lake-and-indian-tree-preserve
Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve
Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve
Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve
Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve
Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve
Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve
Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve Hiking Ohair Park, Verissimo OSP, Stafford Lake and Indian Tree Preserve

Directions to Ohair Park in Novato


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