Golden Ticket

This is for those who want it all: full-blown fall colors, redwoods rising high into the sky, a…

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This is for those who want it all: full-blown fall colors, redwoods rising high into the sky, a quietly flowing creek, and a drive that’s less than 30 miles from San Francisco. Your golden ticket to this Willy Wonka Wonderland: the western stretch of Marin’s Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (map). Just a few miles past Fairfax, the road criss-crosses Lagunitas Creek while heading deep into groves thick with towering redwoods and big-leaf maple trees. Want the full fall immersion? Bring your bike and ride along the flat and car-free Cross Marin Trail; this old railroad grade parallels the creek for 4.5 miles (one-way), passing through the heart of Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Or you can hike a portion of the same path. We recommend crossing the bridge at the campground and heading west on the South Creek Trail. Go for a mile to the old paper mill to see a kaleidoscope of colors. Scrumdidilyumptious!

To reach the start of the Cross Marin Trail: Continue 3.5 miles past the Samuel P. Taylor State Park campground entrance; turn right at Platform Bridge Rd. and park in the pullout on the west side of the road. Look for the paved path leading from the pullout. The entire path is 4.5 miles one way—asphalt for three miles and dirt and ballast for the last 1.5 miles—from Platform Bridge Rd. to the turnaround at Shafter’s Bridge. If hiking, park in the Camp Taylor entrance ($6), cross the bridge, and follow the South Creek Trail. The Cross Marin Trail is dog-friendly!

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