What’s Best: Great blue herons and great egrets nest in dense woodlands, some atop redwoods, in the four steep canyons that rise from Bolinas Lagoon.
Parking: From southern Marin: Take Hwy. 1-Stinson Beach exit from north of Sausalito and follow about 13 ml, to 3.5 ml. north of Stinson Beach. From central Marin: Take Sir Francis Drake Blvd.-San Anselmo exit and follow about 18 ml, through Fairfax to Hwy. 1 at Olema. Go south on Hwy. 1 for about 8 ml, and look for signs on left as highway comes to Bolinas Lagoon on right. Note: Audubon Canyon Ranch, on private land, is open to the public four months during the year, from midMarch through mid-July, normally on weekends and afternoons, Tuesday.
AUDUBON CANYON RANCH MAP SAN FRANCISCO Photo Gallery
Audubon Canyon Ranch’s trademark, two-story ranch house dates from 1875, once home to Captain Peter L. Bourne. The nearby barn was added in 1932. The ACR is a nonprofit organization, not affiliated with the National Audubon Society, that offers guided walks and school programs. Take the Rawlings Trail to the Overlook to see the heron and egret rookery, with stick nests high up in redwood trees. Head up the trail to the left of the ranch house and headquarters. You walk a side-hill up a ravine about 250 feet in elevation. You can come back down the Kent Trail to make a loop hike of this bird-watcher’s delight. Note: Bring binoculars.
For the Griffin loop, head to your right from the ranch house. The road turns up the mountain now the Bourne Trail and you ascend 600 feet over the next .5-mile. The Bourne Trail continues up the shoulder see More Stuff but you want to contour around to your left into Picher Canyon. The trail heads into the canyon for .5-mile. You then cross the creek and come down on the middle ridge.
More Stuff: The upper part of the ranch can be accessed via the Bourne Trail, at the top of the Fairfax-Bolinas Road. Look for a trailhead on the south side of the road, about .25-mile west of Ridgecrest Boulevard. Begin near the site of Larsens Lodge. Named for the longtime caretaker, the lodge was formerly called Summit House, a stagecoach rest stop that burned down after it could not be sold in 1891. Some say hanky-panky was involved. The Bourne Trail follows a ridgeline down 850 feet.