What’s Best: A levee walk in a wildlife preserve in the northeastern corner of Marin, where an oak island sits at the mouth of the Petaluma River.
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Parking: From Hwy. 101, take Hwy. 37 toward Vallejo. Turn right (across from Atherton Ave.) and go toward Black Point on Harbor Dr. Then turn right on Grandview Ave. and follow for 1 ml. through narrow residential streets making a sharp right at “five corners” after .5 ml. Park at the gate, on street, at the end of Grandview. Agency: California Fish & Game; Marin Department of Parks
Hike: Day Island levee (2.25 ml.) From 1865 to 1891, when the Navy logged oaks from the high ground at the point to build its shipyards at Mare Island just to the north, Black Point was the main post office for Novato and northern Marin. Now the eastern tip of Black Point is a State Wildlife Area. Plenty of oaks have returned, which attract woodland birds, while shorebirds flock to two lagoons.
For the Day Island levee hike, take a grassy road to your right after coming through the gate from the parking area. This road makes a short inland loop around a marshy area. You’ll come to a levee where a gated road goes to your right. Walk left, toward the oak knoll of Day Island, which is about .5-mile away. Across marshland to the south is Novato Creek and Bel Marin Keys. Nearing Day Island, the trail passes one of the wildlife area’s lagoons and then climbs a short distance, up through oak forests and coming to an unpaved Day Island Road. The wide road soon breaks into the open as you pass the lagoon on your left and make a short climb up into the oak knoll that is Day Island. Bear left when you have a choice and follow the road to its end for a look at the Petaluma River.