If you’re gonna go big on a spring hike, make it at Marin County’s biggest open space preserve, Mount Burdell. And go to the summit. You’ll be sharing the trail with grazing cows, poppies galore, and beautiful birds on this 5-mile (round-trip) adventure.
The vastness of the preserve delivers rolling spring hills from the get-go. Start on the Michako Trail, heading east. The sprawling meadow splashes with poppies, blue-eyed grass, buttercups, mules ears, and other blooming beauties. Enjoy views of San Pablo Bay in the distance.
Connect to San Carlos Fire Road for the ultimate climb. Quarry Trail is steep and challenging, but it leads to the good stuff at the summit! Look around while wandering around. At 1,500 feet, views sweep from Mount Saint Helena, Mount Tam, Petaluma, and Sonoma Valley to San Pablo Bay and Mount Diablo.
Find yourself a quiet spot to take a break (a little extra footwork and you can find private knolls overlooking wine country). The descent on Cobblestone Fire Road is almost as rewarding, with big views out to San Francisco. Half way to the bottom, reach tranquil Hidden Lake, a seasonal oasis garlanded by grass and favored by frogs and ducks. From here, hike among oaks via Middle Burdell Trail before coming out into the open fields again and connecting to San Andreas Fire Road to finish the hike.
Park at the end of San Andreas Dr. (map) in Novato. Dog-friendly!