Olompali State Historic Park

It was a great day to get the out of frigid San Francisco for warm, sunny hike in the mixed-oak woodlands of Marin County. It was ~80 deg F (20% humidity) when we pulled in to the parking lot at Olompali State Park right off Highway 101 in Novato at 1 pm. We've driven by a hundred times; today we went in.

I cribbed the following notes from the Day Hiker's Guide to California's State Parks*:
The name Olompali (O-lum-pa-lee) comes from the Coast Miwok Indians who lived here from 6000 BC until around 1850. The the Mexican government granted this land to a Franciscan-educated Miwok in 1843 who sold it a decade later. By 1865, Rancho Olompali came into the possession of Galen Burdell, San Francisco's first dentist. Burdell built a huge estate and planted lavish gardens, the daffodils from which still bloom in scattered remnants every winter. After the Burdell era, the land served as a cattle ranch, Jesuit retreat, hippie commune, and concert grounds for the Grateful Dead. The Burdell mansion burned down 1969, setting the stage for state purchase in 1977. Olompali opened as a state historic park in 1990. Archaeologists have uncovered thousands of Miwok artifacts here and the Park curates Miwok-related displays.
*This is the book you get with your California State Park membership. If you live in California and don't have a state park membership, shame on you.




80 deg F is just about my favorite temperature, but thankfully oaks shaded most of the trail.






We saw some beautiful glades of Festuca californica, a native perennial bunch grass that remains green through summer. While California has a fire-adapted ecology it has become much more fire-prone with the invasion of European annual grasses that die in summer and give the state its famous golden hills.

Festuca californica


Festuca californica

Festuca californica

Said golden hills:


Said fire-adapted ecology?


Many of the manzanitas here burned once, and lived to tell.



J'adore the exfoliating bark.


Old manzanitas stump sprout. With all the rain we had this year, that could be mostly this year's growth.


We saw lots of Mimulus aurantiacus


and just one thistle (Cirsium occidentale?)


I don't know what this umbel is, but we saw a lot of it in the lower elevations.


The buckeye in my garden remains quite green. This is its more normal look for this time of year.


Buckeye leaves tend to look terrible turning brown in gardens.


But in nature the leaves die very appealingly in my opinion. Mine never have this yellow pastel.


Too warm for a picnic in full sun, and we didn't bring food anyway.


We came home to find San Francisco just as we left it.



Christopher C. NC said...

You might be surprised how golden brown an unmowed pasture can get here in NC by mid summer. Many grasses grow in spring, bloom, set seed and turns brown here too.

Bonnie Story said...

The contrast in locations is amazing. I hiked at Olompali once, when it was so hot I thought I would die!! Dumb idea. Is there a loop, or do you still go up, tun around and come back down? The manzanitas are fantastic!

chuck b. said...

It was a loop. We hiked for about an hour and a half.

We declined the 5-mile loop. We thought it might have been too hot for five miles, and we weren't adequately provisioned with water, sunscreen, and hats.

Les said...

Moi aussi on that manzanita bark, very nice. Having read your other post about your letter to Taget, I now don't know where to shop for cheap imported clothing. Mall Wart has always been out, maybe I need to go to the big K.

chuck b. said...

Seriously. I'd been buying all my cheap imported clothing at Target. I could go back to thrift stores I guess.