Sunday, July 6, 2008

Big Rock in Novato

Novato- Lucas Valley
Big Rock Trail
(5.91 miles)

A new trail! A new trail! Will the excitement never cease?

Um, yeah. So this is a great out-and-back trail I had no idea existed. It runs through Lucas Valley Open Space Preserve, and then once you are up on the ridge, the trail marks the divide between Ignacio Valley Open Space Preserve and Lucas Valley Open Space Preserve.

I've spent plenty of time running trails in Marin, but for some reason, I never ventured north of the watershed. This is too bad, because today's trail was nothing but great views after the first quarter mile.

To get to the trailhead, take Lucas Valley Road out until... a big rock. There is very little parking near the rock, but we went on a Sunday afternoon, which should be a prime time for hiking, and we had no problem finding space. The trail winds away from the rock, and climbs (and climbs and climbs) up through some oak groves (and a couple of madrones) until it flattens out a bit on the ridge. Big Rock Ridge is also part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. One could follow the trail south, but apparently this is the northernmost point until Indian Valley Open Space Preserve-- there seems to be a bit of a gap on the trail, according to the map. Anyway, Big Rock Ridge follows the ridgeline (shocking) for a while. I was concerned about my knee, since it was going to be straight downhill for the second half, so we did not run long, but according to the map, it would be possible to run all the way back to the freeway, or take one of the forks and run through Pacheco Valle or Loma Verde Open Space Preserves.

As I said before, the views on this trail are worth a) the heat and b) the climb. This is not an easy run, but you are treated to sweeping vistas at more or less every moment on the trail, so it's hard to get too upset about the uphill grind. Plus, the out-and-back made for a screamingly fun downhill run. Almost three miles of flying downhill-- and not overly technical as well. Some single track, but not too many rocks and ridges, so it was easy to pick up some good speed.

AND... my knee didn't hurt at all, which made me SOOO happy! I have been worrying about downhill since I sent my entry form in for Santa Barbara 9 Trails a few weeks ago, when the RD sent out a "people who have done 9 Trails in the past-- do you want to get in on it before we open it to the public" email and I jumped on it. (He told me I was the second person to send in my entry form. I swear, I am going to have my revenge on that trail this year!!)

Dogs? Um, don't really know. On the map I have, it says dogs must be leashed and under voice control at all times (why you would need voice control when your dog is on a leash is beyond me), but then it says (in the next sentence) that dogs can be off leash on the fire roads in Marin County Open Space District. I guess bring a leash and hope for the best?

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