Grateful for Olompali

You’ve probably passed by the sign for Olompali State Historic Park in Marin County dozens of times on…

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You’ve probably passed by the sign for Olompali State Historic Park in Marin County dozens of times on your way to the wine country and perhaps even wondered, “What exactly is tucked back there?” The answer: 700 acres and thousands of years of quintessential California history—from the Coast Miwok to the Grateful Dead! Olompali is a place to go on a walk through time. Bring a picnic as scattered tables under giant oaks offer easy shade. But first, set about to see Miwok structure replicas from times past, including reed-and-bark teepees and the remains of a once-elaborate garden. Then hike the 3-mile (round-trip) Loop Trail for a simple slip through a shaded canopy of California bay and coast live oak trees. The path begins with a climb, paralleling Olompali Creek and passing a small reservoir. Keep going on the narrow trail, curving through grassy spaces punctuated by old oaks whose gnarled limbs seem to know all the secrets of the past. As you come over the highest point of the trail, eastern views of San Pablo Bay come briefly into view. It’s no wonder the Grateful Dead played a concert here and used the Olompali hills as an album cover backdrop.

WANT TO SAVE THE PARKS? California State Parks Foundation (an official partner of Weekend Sherpa) has set up a system that automatically sends an email letter to your legislators and Governor Jerry Brown.

Olompali State Park is only accessed from southbound Hwy. 101 in Marin. If you’re traveling northbound on Hwy. 101, go about 1 mile past the entrance sign, exit at the landfill, cross over the highway, and get on Hwy. 101 southbound. The Loop Trail can be hiked in either direction. We recommend making a counterclockwise loop by initially following the Mount Burdell Trail signs and then the continuing on the Loop Trail. No dogs.

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