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Gail Todd

DIY Hike: Corte Madera Creek to Ross

It’s as wide as a river and occasionally has behaved like one, rising up several times in the past to flood surrounding towns. For the moment, a calmer Corte Madera Creek flows beside a multiuse path wide enough for bicyclists, strollers and joggers to peacefully coexist.

The scenic creek is home to many shorebirds. Following the creek from Greenbrae into Ross takes you on a hike of about 2 miles each way. In Ross, you can stop for lunch in Ross Common and explore the Marin Art and Garden Center.

What you’ll find: Pick up the multiuse path across from Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, at Bon Air Road and South Eliseo Drive. The view of Mount Tamalpais is spectacular. You will see herons and egrets fishing in this wide stretch of creek, as well as several kinds of ducks. After a short distance, you will see a small wooden bridge to the right, which will take you on a worthwhile detour to Creekside Park to view the salt marsh, home to the endangered California clapper rail. The park also has a restroom and children’s playground.

Continuing along the creek, you will find benches to take a break and a somewhat dilapidated par course with exercises. Alas, the creek is then funneled into an open culvert – still visible, but no longer beautiful. A little farther on, a wooden walkway leads across the creek, where the path continues on the other side. Cross College Avenue and continue on to the College of Marin.

Here it is easy to lose the path, but just keep the culverted creek in sight to the right. The path, now significantly narrower, soon approaches Frederick Allen Park in Ross.

Ross: Though the creek continues, the public path ends at Lagunitas Road. At Lagunitas, turn left a few feet toward Ross Common. Then turn left again. Here, at Ross Common, you will find a picturesque miniature downtown with several restaurants, cafes, shops and a post office where locals gather. Pick up lunch supplies at the Ross Grocery, which has been owned by the same family since World War II, and enjoy lunch at the park directly across from the Common.

For a different scene, turn right on Lagunitas, which leads to the Marin Garden and Art Center (30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.). Explore spectacular gardens and rolling lawns and see heritage trees, a medicinal herb garden, a native plant garden and butterfly habitat. The center offers classes and special events for horticultural enthusiasts, an art gallery and a theater. It is also a prized venue for weddings.

Getting there: By car, take the Sir Francis Drake exit off Highway 101 and continue on Sir Francis Drake to Bon Air Road. Turn left to South Eliseo Drive.

By bus, take Golden Gate Transit’s No. 29 line to Marin General Hospital. Check goldengatetransit.org for schedules. Another option is Marin Transit’s No. 221 Twin Cities shuttle. Schedule is at links.sfgate.com/ZFLV. Both buses also stop at Larkspur Landing, allowing connections to a San Francisco ferry.

Photo: Sylvie Zolezzi via Google Image

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