Deer Island Open Space
Novato, California 94945
Local Phone: (415) 473-2816
Marin County Parks Open Space Leash Policy: Dogs on leash are welcome to enjoy trails. Dogs are allowed off-leash under strict voice control on fire protection roads. Please follow posted rules.
No longer a true island, this preserve (135 acres) rises above the eastern edge of Novato from an area that was once part of the extensive wetlands in the Petaluma River Delta.
Deer Island can be enjoyed in a short day. Many users walk or jog the relatively level loop trail as a morning or evening exercise routine.
This small preserve is just a few minutes from Highways 101 and 37 but it is peaceful and quiet. There are many places along the trails where you can enjoy a reflective moment and appreciate the birds, trees, and flowers that thrive here.
In spring, the grasslands along the ridge come alive with wildflowers such as ground iris and shooting stars. This is also a great place to find many different kinds of butterflies, some of which are dependent on the surrounding marsh habitat.
Remnants of this property’s dairy farming days are visible around the preserve. Weathered outbuildings still stand near the entrance but the small farmhouse will soon serve as the offices of the Parks & Open Space Environmental Education Program.
There is evidence that this location was once the site of a settlement occupied, at least seasonally, by Miwok peoples.
Take the Atherton Ave/San Marin Drive exit east on Atherton Ave, turn right at Olive Ave, and turn left at Deer Island Lane. MCOSD gate is on the right.
• Dog are welcome but they must be leashed.
• Parking: Small parking area by the Open Space sign.
• Fee: None
• Water: Bring your own
• Best time of the year for this hike: Year round but watvh the foxtails during summer.
• Degree of difficulty: Easy
• Distance: 1.8 miles
Help us keep this trail beautiful and dog-friendly:
• Always follow the posted rules as they may have changed
• If in off-leash area, keep your dog under voice command
• Respect and protect wildlife and habitats
• Pack in and pack out, leaving only paw prints