Beginning at the end of Porteous Rd. at Deer Park, this hike crosses scenic varied Marin Water District land on the way to historic sites and trails along the shore of Phoenix Lake named after colorful personalities from those early times. One trail and creek in the area was named after Bill Williams, a reclusive Confederate Army deserter, who according to legend, buried a treasure on nearby Mt. Tamalpais. Instead of gold, however, observant hikers will instead likely find the best spot to view the legendary Sleeping Indian Princess profile of Mt. Tamalpais on the Hidden Meadow Trail while descending to Phoenix Lake. Named after the Great Britain immigrant farmer, whose name was actually spelled William Phenix, the lake is partly circled by the very charming Gertrude Ord woodland trail, for me, one of the best parts of the hike. But, there’s a great mix of habitats, history, views and less travelled trails from start to finish. It is suggested hikers pack plenty of water during this hike where much of the 900 foot total elevation gain is on sun exposed switch backing slopes. There is potable water available at only one spot near the lake just before the Yolanda Trail junction alongside the Phoenix Lake Road.
From the parking area at Deer Park hike the path behind the school giving access to a sports field. Stay on the left edge of this field and find the sign marking the beginning of the climb up the Deer Park Trail. The ascent climbs up a drainage system on alternating rocky exposed slopes and wooded forest of Buckeye, Bay Laurel, oak and even occasional redwoods.Higher up intersect the signed Worn Springs Fire Rd., join it going right and almost immediately find the unmarked single track Buckeye Trail to the right. This trail runs parallel to the Worn Springs Fire road and joins it later on. It is suggested to take the Buckeye instead of the Worn Springs fire road, as the steep fire road needlessly gains and loses elevation.
At the point the Buckeye Trail re-intersects the Worn Springs Rd. in maybe a quarter mile, stay right. In a bit reach a flat area called Six Points that actually contains only five trails. Take the signed Hidden Meadow Trail, and watch for the Sleeping Indian Princess profile of Mt. Tam across the canyon forming the southern horizon. Descend the trail down to join the Shaver Grade fire road and continue left on the dirt road, watching for mountain bike traffic.
Stay left at the next fork named Phoenix Junction. Almost immediately take a right onto the leafy, wooded Gertrude Ord trail, here only marked by a sign saying “Do not ride, carry, or walk bikes on this Trail”. This quiet, lovely cool trail follows the left side of a creek to a wood foot bridge, crosses over the creek and continues along just above the shore of Phoenix Lake on rolling trail sometimes with expertly constructed wooden steps on the steep parts. Good photo opportunities of the lake can be found as the hike progresses through this section. About a mile farther on, at the far side of the lake, reach the Gertrude-Ord and Bill Williams trail junction. The area is flat with lots of shade and logs providing a seat for lunch to be taken. Continue left on the Bill Williams fire road trail by following the shore line road to the dam, crossing over to the rest room area, and then staying left a short distance to the Yolanda Trail junction leading uphill on your right. Take the Yolanda on a constant stretch of uphill often in the sun until you again reach the Six Points junction. Instead of returning on the same entrance route, it is shorter and cooler to take the unsigned Six Points Trail immediately to the left of the signed Worn Springs Fire Rd. Six Points Tr. descends through quiet ferns and redwoods in 1.1 miles to the Deer Park Fire Rd. Turn right and in .3 mi. reach the school and trailhead to finish this visually stimulating loop hike.