Much like the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, this hike up Mount Burdell in Novato has an option that's “just right" for you. Whatever distance you opt for, you'll be rewarded with outstanding vistas, lush grasslands, impressive forests, and tranquil trail rambling.Those chosing the "papa bear" route will climb nearly 1,800 feet and hike 6.5 miles.(Photo by Lisa Williams via Flickr Creative Commons)
How to Get There
Novato is Marin's second largest city and is located astride Hwy. 101 at the northern end of the county. Take the San Marin Dr. exit and head west for 2.5 miles on San Marin Dr. then make a right on San Andreas Dr. and park.
Transit options include Marin Transit route 251.
- Head up San Andreas Dr. to San Andreas Ct., turn right and look for the Pub Trail on your left.
- Climb up the Pub trail for 0.3 miles.
- At the intersection with the San Andreas Fire Rd. bear left. You'll soon see San Andreas Dr. below.
- Continue up the San Andreas Fire Rd.
- After 0.4 miles (and a super steep section) you'll see the Dwarf Oak Trail on your left. Take this trail for the baby bear option (jump to step 14).
- Otherwise continue climbing for 0.3 miles as the San Andreas becomes the Middle Burdell Fire Rd.
- Bear left on the Deer Camp Fire Rd. (part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail). You're now at about 650 feet of elevation and the views behind you begin to really open up.
- You'll pass the Pierre Joske Grove of oaks as the trail swings left.
- Further up, the trail veers right and the views astoun as you ascend the upper flanks of Mt. Burdell.
- At 1.4 miles on the Deer Camp you'll meet the Cobblestone Fire Rd. Mama bears will want to continue on Deer Camp, while Papas will turn left to ascend the 0.7 miles to the summit. It's a bit rough and rocky here.
- Upon reaching Burdell Ridge Mountain Fire Rd. go across it to the single track trail and proceed to the top of Burdell Mountain. At 1,558 feet you'll be taking in some of best vistas in the North Bay.
- Backtrack down the Cobblestone turn left on the Deer Park to begin the descent.
- When the Deer Park joins the Middle Burdell, Hidden Lake will come into view. This seasonal pond is home to a variety of rare plants and is usually alive with frogs and salamanders during the wet season.
- Continue west (left) on the Middle Burdell to rejoin the San Andreas and retrace your steps to the Dwarf Oak Trail. Close the gate behind you as you head west on the Dwarf Oak. In the spring, the slopes along the trail are filled with wildflowers.
- At about 0.6 miles you'll encounter the signpost for the Myrtle Place Trail. Take it down to San Ramon Way, turning left to curve down to San Marin Dr. and your start point.
Other Things to Do
There's a shopping mall located between San Andreas and San Ramon that has a Mary's Pizza Shack, a Starbucks, and the China Village restaurant as well as a grocery store. Old Town Novato has many interesting shops and restaurants. To get there, head back towards Hwy. 101 and turn right on Redwood Blvd. just before the freeway on-ramp. Turn left on Grant Ave.