Vast, beautiful, and furrifically Fido-friendly, Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve is a true Marin County gem. This wilderness oasis isn’t nearly as pawpular as it should be -- while you and your pooch probably won’t have the trails to yourselves, there’s a good chance that the number of pups and people you pass will be in the single-digit range. There’s free parking by the entrance on Conifer Way, but it is best to get there early -- while the preserve is little frequented, there’s only space for around three cars in the dirt parking lot. Best of all, Gary Giacomini Open Space allows doggos off-leash on the trails! Free roaming fur-balls are welcome to sniff and explore all routes as long as they’re under strict voice control.
Make no bones about it, Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve offers some seriously special scenery. The routes run through redwood and dwarf cypress forests, chapparal, and scrubland, and if you visit in the spring, you can expect to spot iris, forget-me-nots, California poppy, and even some wild orchids! The area is also one of the few remaining natural habitats of the rare Marin Manzanita.
While the preserve has something to offer to almost everyone, fitter furry friends will get the best of the deal. The San Geronimo Fire Road is a mutts-walk for pooches and humans capable of climbing -- there’s about 1,400 feet of elevation gain, but the trail leads to a ridgeline that boasts fabulous views of Kent Lake and the valley below. The less athletic among us might like to take in the wooded wonderland that lines stretches of the Willis Evans Trail, but be careful -- you’re unlikely to get very far before the inclines begin.
As you might have guessed, the trails in Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve vary in terms of accessibility, but a certain level of fitness is definitely required. Those with serious mobility issues and older four-pawed pals who can’t quite move like they used to might want to give this one a miss. The dirt roads and rough terrain mean that the paths here aren’t suitable for wheelchairs or strollers. In terms of facilities, there aren’t any, so make sure to use the bathroom before you go! Remember to bring bags and water, and have a pawesome time at the preserve!