The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve rises steadily from San Marin High School in Novato through bucolic cow pastures and past giant oak trees. About a mile from the peak, the trail levels off with a sweeping view of the preserve and surrounding mountains before rising steeply on the aptly named Cobblestone Trail to the summit. Stone walls at the apex were built by Chinese immigrants who quarried cobblestones used to pave the streets of San Francisco in the late 19th century.
We are hiking the 400-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.
TRAIL MAP (date hiked)
- Mount Burdell Open Space: O’Hair Park to Olompali State Park (March 12, 2022)
The hike at Mount Burdell kept upping its game as we climbed higher and higher.
The trailhead begins just beyond the centerfield fence at San Marin High School’s ballpark and passes through a small tract of homes. We were not impressed.
But before long, we were enjoying our modest climb through the brilliant green cow pastures that paint Mount Burdell’s broad southern flank. We found plenty of gnarled oak trees and thick clumps of thistles to admire, and shade was never more than a few hundred feet away. Frankly, we thought the hike would be harder.
Yet, just as we thought we had this 1,400-foot climb licked, the trail got harder. It steepened and became littered with stone, and we had to huff, puff and teeter our way to the summit. We could feel the burn.
In need of a rest and some lunch, we seated ourselves on a couple of larger rocks to dine, and Dan hung his sweat-drenched overshirt on a tree branch to dry. The views across the coastal range to the west were wonderful, and we admired the rough stone fences that cut across the peak.
Only later did we read that the streets of San Francisco were paved with stone from Mount Burdell in the late 1900s, and the Chinese immigrants who worked the quarries on the west side of the mountain had built the fences. Today they mark the entrance to Olompali State Historic Park. They did good work. Next time we’ll do our research in advance.
Miles we hiked0
(with returns and connectors)
Our Progress Hiking the Bay Area Ridge Trail – 256 out of 400 miles64%