Hike by Jessica Taekman, originally published in the October 2010 issue of Bay Nature magazine
Even though the Bay Area has a tremendous variety of open spaces, many people find themselves drawn again and again to one particular park. For lots of folks in Marin, that's Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Ridge, northwest of San Rafael.
And with good reason. Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Ridge covers more than 1,100 acres with easy terrain for hikers, mountain bikers, dog walkers, and equestrians. You can get to the preserve's northern reaches from the gate at the end of Freitas Parkway. Here, a paved pathway marks where developers came close to building a thoroughfare across the ridge from Sleepy Hollow to Terra Linda. Luckily, community members stepped in to block the road's completion and the Marin County Open Space District eventually took ownership of the ridge. Now the only vehicles passing over the ridge are pedaled two-wheelers.
The paved bike path makes a brief uphill climb, then quickly gives way to a broad, rocky trail. Serpentine outcroppings dot the hillside. Mount Tam rises to the south, and from spots along the trail you'll glimpse Big Rock Ridge to the north and, to the east, the turquoise roof of the Marin Civic Center and the broad expanse of San Pablo Bay. The preserve's trails wind through open grassland and stands of coast live and valley oak, bay, and buckeye.
Getting there: From Highway 101 in Marin, exit at Freitas Parkway (#455). Drive west on Freitas about 1.2 miles to the open space gate.