Address: 1700 Indian Valley Rd, Novato, CA (approx.) Parking: Free street parking available near the address above (about 30 spaces). Please be respectful of residents. You can also park in the College of Marin parking lot for a fee. Hours: 24 hours Type: Hike (moderate, 2+ miles) Regulations: Dogs allowed on-leash (can be off-leash on the fire road) Best time to visit: Right after a heavy rain Don't miss: The waterfall!
Description: This park has 558-acres of shady trails lined with oak and bay trees. During this time of year everything is a vibrant green, with moss-covered trees and fern-lined trails. Since we just had some rain, the creek is gushing. From our car, we walked to the end of Indian Valley Road, through the fence, and up the right side of the fire road to the Waterfall Trail. After a little less than a mile hike, you will come to the waterfall. I recommend taking the lower trail first to view it from below. The waterfall cascades down over 40 ft, but the tallest section, where you can take pictures, is only about 15 ft. From here, you can head back for a hike a little less than 2 miles. We decided to continue on to hike the entire loop. You will have to cross the top of the waterfall, which is about ankle deep this time of year, so I recommend wearing boots or bringing a change of socks if you’re hiking it after a heavy rain. The trail continues up and eventually heads to the left, where we saw a family of deer in the woods. The trail opens up a bit and the shady trails become flooded with sunlight. You will come to a brief opening in the trees, where you can see a view of the city. Total elevation change to this point is only about 250ft, but there are a couple steep sections on the way up. From here you’ll head downhill and soon you'll come to a large pond. You can take either trail, but the trail circling around it to your right is slightly shorter. You'll cross the creek a few more times, and end up at the top of the paved fire road, next to the garden at the college. From here, turn left and hike back down the fire road and you will soon recognize where you started. There are signs and fences along the fire road asking dogs to stay out of the creek here to protect the frogs, but on the rest of the hike just described, your dog will probably unintentionally be swimming in the creek, just to cross. The entire waterfall loop hike is approximately 3.5 miles long.
There is a trash can and doggy clean up bags at the trailhead, but no restrooms or running water.