Tucked into West Marin’s San Geronimo Valley, just a few hundred feet from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, you’ll find a meadow circled by bay trees, madrones, and enormous old-growth redwoods–some of them 250 feet tall. This is Roy’s Redwoods preserve, a 377-acre park that’s been home to a ranch, a commune, and even Ewoks for a 1984 George Lucas TV movie.
Old-growth redwoods are rare in the Bay Area, so these trees are special. While some trees at Muir Woods are over 1,000 years old, the oldest trees at Roy’s have lived a mere 400 to 500 years. But it’s hard to say how old a redwood is: New trees, clones of their parents, sprout from an older tree’s trunk, eventually leaving distinctive family rings. At Roy’s Redwoods, 200-foot giants encircle spaces that once held their parents.
Past the redwood grove, follow the 2.5-mile Roy’s Redwoods Loop Trail through sunny areas dotted with coast live oaks, then descend through a damp, thickly forested canyon. The trail opens up at the base of a hill, passing the San Geronimo Golf Course. Roy’s Nature Trail spurs off the main loop trail just beyond the redwood grove.
Getting there From U.S. 101, exit San Anselmo/Sir Francis Drake. Drive west on Sir Francis Drake about 11 miles to Nicasio Valley Road. Turn right and drive about a half mile to the gate on the right and park on the side of the road.
Hike by Jessica Taekman, originally published in the January 2009 issue of Bay Nature magazine