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Gail Todd

DIY Hike: Sorich Ranch Park: Follow Trail for Panoramic View

Sandwiched between the Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow Divide Open Space Preserve to the north and the Mount Tamalpais Cemetery to the southeast, the park offers a gentle climb through eucalyptus woods, grasslands and oak groves to a ridgetop overlooking San Francisco, San Rafael and San Francisco Bay. Bring water, as there are no facilities in this park.

The trail

From the parking area, you can see a pretty gazebo with some benches and tables, perfect for a picnic lunch. Start on the Sorich Park trail, which begins fairly flat but soon gently ascends through groves of eucalyptus. Cross a scenic little bridge and continue until you come to a juncture. To the right is a gated road, heading toward a house and then to the Mount Tamalpais Cemetery. Stay to the left and continue to wind your way up through the gentle switchbacks. You will see native oaks, lots of coyote brush and, unfortunately, poison oak, so stay on the trail. Mount Tamalpais rises majestically to the south.

Continue past the Sun Valley Trail, which cuts off to your right and also past the water towers. The trail levels off and you can look east toward the San Pedro Mountains and the bay. Toward the south are rolling hills and grasslands. Continue until you see a hilltop on your left. Climb the short path for your reward – a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the Bay Area and beyond.

Go back the way you came, or, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to take a shortcut, continue bearing left around the hill. This leads precipitously downhill on the fire trail. You will ultimately find yourself at a set of stairs, which you can descend back to San Francisco Boulevard. Here, turn left to return to the parking lot and gazebo.

The walk is about 2 1/2 miles if you go out and back. The “shortcut” brings it down to about 2 miles.

After the walk

Take a stroll down San Anselmo Avenue in the heart of the town of San Anselmo. Stop into Booksmith, an independent bookstore (615 San Anselmo Ave.) where you can find an enticing selection of used and new books. Across the street is Bubba’s Diner (566 San Anselmo Ave.), touting itself as the place “where grease meets organic.” Here you can find burgers, salads and three kinds of fries. For home-style comfort foods, try Comforts (335 San Anselmo Ave.) with food from Latin America, Asia and Europe. Get dessert at the Royal Sweet Bakery (625 San Anselmo Ave.). A small bridge leads from San Anselmo Boulevard over San Anselmo Creek to Creek Park, where you can enjoy grassy lawns, benches and creekside bird watching.

Getting there

By bus, from various downtown stops you can catch the Golden Gate Transit Nos. 70, 80 or 101 to the San Rafael Transit Center. From there catch the No. 23 to Drake High School. Walk east three blocks to San Francisco Boulevard, turn left and continue to Sorich Ranch Park. During commute hours, you can catch the Golden Gate Transit No. 24 directly from downtown San Francisco to Sir Francis Drake and San Francisco Boulevard. For more information, go to www.goldengatetransit.org.

By car from San Francisco, go over the Golden Gate Bridge and continue north on Highway 101 to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. At the intersection with Red Hill Avenue, make a slight left to stay on Sir Francis Drake. Turn right at San Francisco Boulevard and drive about 0.7 of a mile to the Sorich Ranch parking lot.

Photo: Colleen Proppe via Flickr

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