Kalani on Mount Tam. Photo: Niall Kennedy
When most people think about public lands, state parks, national parks and national forests usually come to mind. But public utilities also manage open space, usually for the purpose of protecting watersheds and streams that provide drinking water and energy for power plants. The Marin Municipal Water District is one of them, stewarding several thousand acres of land holding numerous reservoirs and about 130 miles of trails in the Mount Tamalpais watershed. Many of the paths meander around pretty lakes, while others climb into the hills to connect with state parks (where dogs are not allowed) and open-space districts. Some MMWD trails are so secluded that it takes some sleuthing to find them.
A new discovery for us: Soulajule Reservoir, a tucked-away gem in north Marin with hiking options along a ranch road on the west side of the dam. Swimming is prohibited for dogs as well as for people, and due to the remote location and lack of facilities, you won’t encounter many of each. Much more well used is the Sky Oaks trailhead for the popular Alpine, Bon Tempe and Lagunitas reservoirs, the latter two of which feature flat, easy shoreline trails with lots of scenery for you to enjoy with your eyes and Bonnie to enjoy with her nose.
DogTrekker's “research Lab,” Kayla, is very familiar with the MMWD reservoirs on Mount Tam's northeast flank, and with the many trails around them, ranging from easy to strenuous. One of her favorites, the trial her up-rights call Triple-Lake, begins at beautiful Phoenix Lake just outside the town of Ross. The Phoenix Lake Trail skirts the lake and meets up with the Fish Grade Trail, which leads uphill (follow the signs for Lake Lagunitas) to Bon Tempe and on to Lagunitas. Guaranteed you'll meet plenty of other dog walkers on these trails who can steer you straight if you get temporarily lost in the woods.