Pictures from the Gunsight Rock hike are further down the page.
March Hike: Sunday, March 20, 2005
Olompali State Historic Park
Meet at the visitor's center parking lot, 11 a.m.
There is probably no site in Marin County with a history deeper than that of Olompali Park. It has been continuously inhabited for at least 8,000 years, mostly by Miwok Indians. Beginning in the 1850s, it became part of a large Spanish land grant that extended to Tomales Bay. The mansion there was built by the Burdell family, and later it was successively used by Jesuit priests, the Grateful Dead, and finally, in the mid-1960s, by a commune known as The Chosen Family. The mansion caught fire and partially burned, and the then owners of the property, the UC Regents, forced the hippies to leave. A few years later, the California park system took over, established its archeological value, and created a park.
We'll meet in the parking lot at 11 AM. I'll try to have a ranger meet us to show us the ruins and answer such questions as, "What about that dead baby?" "Did the 1567 British coin dug up there really come from the Golden Hynde?" and "Where was the building Owsley used as a chemical lab?"
After touring the grounds for a bit, we'll climb 1,500 feet to the summit of Mt. Burdell, which offers terrific views of the Petaluma River and San Pablo Bay. Bring a lunch and binoculars, and dress appropriate for the weather.
The park is located three miles north of Novato on U.S. 101. The entrance is accessible only to southbound traffic from Highway 101.
Northbound vehicles should continue north past the park and make a safe U-Turn in order to travel south and enter the park.
The days was cold and grey, but nine hikers brought good spirits to this interesting hike. We didn't make it all the way to Gunsight Rock - wind and thick fog turned us back short of the goal. We'll repeat this hike on a nicer day.
And if the fog wasn't bad enough, the park service ticketed us for "Parking on vegetation!"