The Ignacio Valley Preserve is a vast open space governed by Martin County Parks just outside of Novato, CA. It sits adjacent to a few other open space areas, including the Loma Verde, Lucas Valley, and Pacheco Valle Open Space Preserves. The whole area is known as Big Rock Ridge, with Ignacio Valley being the largest of the group. However, as it is the most secluded, it is often the least visited.
There are four main trails within the park, most of which are out-and-back trails. There is also one loop trail, which may be one of the most difficult in the park. Despite none of them being more than three miles long, they are all considered moderately strenuous due to the elevation gain. Some visitors opt to start off the main Indian Valley Fire Road, which leads to a seasonal waterfall and a number of other trails that become steeper as you go.
For a more secluded route, you can head down Eagle Drive, where you’ll find a small parking lot. Here, you can access the Eagle Trail, which is a hiking-only trail that leads out to another fire road. This part starts out slightly noisy, but as you make your way into the park, it becomes quieter. As you head down the fire road, you’ll walk along a ridge, which peaks at 680 feet.
Another pleasant path to try is the Fairway Falls trail, also known as the Buck Gulch Falls Trail. This one is recommended for beginner pups and smaller kids, as it only spans about two miles out-and-back. As the name suggests, this path also leads out to a waterfall! For a more strenuous hike, try the Halloween Trail. It stretches three miles in one direction and reaches well over 1,000-foot heights.
There are a number of fire roads and paths throughout the area to explore, so plan to spend ample time in the park. Don’t forget to bring along drinking water, snacks, and proper clothing!