Just north of the Marin County Civic Center, bordering McInnis Park on San Pablo Bay, four miles of hard-packed levee trails wind around more than 350 acres of fresh and saltwater marsh, irrigated pasture, and ponds. Don’t be discouraged if you detect a smell of sulphur near the trailhead; this is the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District’s Wastewater Reclamation Project, and the parking area is close to the treatment plant. Keep on going and you will find yourself in a truly tranquil place where birdsong fills the air and dried grasses crackle in the wind during the dry seasons.
Two of the three ponds hold treated wastewater; the third is a freshwater pond with three islands that attract nesting birds. As you circle around the ponds on the trail network, you can see Mount Diablo to the east, Mount Tamalpais to the west, and all sorts of wildlife, including a fantastic array of waterfowl. On winter weekends, don’t be surprised if you see flocks of birdwatchers toting cameras and binoculars.
see access criteria for definitions
Trailhead: Just south of the parking lot
Length: 2-4 total miles
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle
Terrain: Moderately Firm
Obstacles: Thick weeds growing down the middle of some trail stretches may be difficult to negotiate.
Next to the classroom building by the parking lot, a steep concrete path leads across a bridge to the main trail. Just past the bridge is an accessible picnic area, although the table has no roll-under space. Two loop trails soon branch off and circle the storage ponds. On one loop I saw mergansers and a cinnamon teal paddling around an island in one of the ponds, and egrets searching the nearshore waters for a meal. The trail can be rocky and rough in places, with a few steep dips and rises, and portions of it are overgrown by weeds. The main trail continues along the north edge of a broad marsh. Eventually it becomes hard-packed dirt with irrigated fields on the left; then it turns to a rough footpath, where I turned back.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking: Yes
Parking lot surface is hard-packed gravel
Accessible Restroom: Yes
An accessible restroom in the classroom building near the parking lot is open daily, 6:30 am-3 pm, but is frequently closed for maintenance. When the classroom building is locked, the closest accessible restroom is at nearby McInnis Park.
Accessible Picnic Tables: Limited Accessibility
Near the parking lot, just past the concrete bridge. Tables have no knee clearance.