Historically Serene

Hike at Olompali State Historic Park in Marin

Hike at Olompali State Historic Park in Marin

Savor autumn’s beauty and go on a walk through time at a small and diverse state park right off the 101 freeway—700-acre Olompali State Historic Park packs years of California history within its idyllic natural beauty. It was once home to the Coast Miwok, Catholic missionaries, ranchers, and even the Grateful Dead (the band lived here in 1966).

Gallery image 1 of 3
Gallery image 2 of 3
Gallery image 3 of 3

Go on a mostly easy 3-mile loop hike along the oak-covered hillside and enjoy the fall foliage. The oak trees (black, blue, and valley oaks) along with big-leaf maples and madrones are stunning in autumn. The hike starts at the old Burdell Mansion and outlying barns, houses, and gardens. Back in the 1860s this property belonged to the Burdell family, who ranched here and later developed an exclusive estate.

Gallery image 1 of 3
Gallery image 2 of 3
Gallery image 3 of 3

But before that, it was home to the Coast Miwok Native Americans. At the start of the hike you’ll witness a reconstruction of their kotchas, reed-and-bark dwellings similar to teepees. You can also walk past the remains of what was once a vibrant garden filled with berries and plants used for many purposes, including spiritual and medicinal.

Hike Olompali State Historic Park in Marin

The Miwok Trail rises gently into the woodlands for a beautiful 3-mile (round-trip) hike on the Loop Trail. The path begins with a climb paralleling Olompali Creek and passing a small reservoir. Keep going on the narrow trail through a shaded canopy of California bay and coast live oak trees, where autumn’s afternoon sun filters in beautiful streams of light.

Hike Olompali State Historic Park in Marin

Grassy spaces are punctuated by old oaks whose gnarled limbs seem to know all the secrets of the past. Coming over the highest point on the trail, eastern views of San Pablo Bay come briefly into view. You’ll quickly understand why the Grateful Dead played a concert here and used the Olompali hills as an album cover backdrop.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: In the episode “Pandemic Autumn Outings” Weekend Sherpa co-founders discuss their afternoon hiking at Olompali State Historic Park.

Olompali State Historic 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, but we recommend making a counterclockwise loop by first following the Mount Burdell Trail signs, and then continuing on the Loop Trail. No dogs.

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Shell of a Good Hike!

    Head to the East Bay’s Shell Ridge Open Space near Walnut Creek to find 1,400 acres of rolling hills. This 7-mile ridge rambling loop showcases all that the foothills of Mount Diablo have to offer.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Santa Cruz Epic Views

    Redwoods, wildflowers, and ocean vistas offer the best of the Bay Area at Upper La Honda Creek Preserve in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Take a 3.75-mile loop through the preserve's highlights.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Find Your Flow

    Far back in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Uvas Canyon County Park is a compact, tree-filled delight with hiking trails and several waterfalls bunched into a loop along Swanson Creek and amid lush forest.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Ready When You Are: Reno Tahoe

    With outdoors being essential for health and wellness, and new protocols in place, Reno Tahoe welcomes visitors! It's wide open with snowshoe trails, fire pits by the river, skating, and hot springs.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Santa Year Round

    Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale is an 836-acre county park with a namesake dam. Explore highlights on a 4-mile loop featuring a lake, a beach, and beautiful mountain vistas.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Good as Golden

    Golden Canyon in Death Valley has a variety of hiking trails. We like this classic 5.5-mile loop exploring a labyrinth of marbled gold colored hills, badlands, narrow canyons, and tremendous vistas.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Canyons Calling

    Canyon hikes come in all shapes and sizes in Death Valley, and we’ve got two gems. One requires more rigorous scrambling and navigation, and leads to a dryfall; the other takes you up to a brilliant vista.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Dune Swoon

    Of all the places to catch a sunset in Death Valley, we still think there’s none better than the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, inspiring many things, including log rolls, cartwheels, and sundown selfies.

    View