, 2022-09-04 14:11:09,
On a bright Sunday afternoon at Stafford Lake Park in Novato, as always, I found something meditative about the Terwilliger Nature Trail. It’s not long — a short mile up and a shorter mile down time-wise — but even on a busy Sunday afternoon around the lake, disc golf course and mountain bike park, the trail is a separate, quiet world.
It helps that I was the only human on it, allowing me to pause wherever I pleased to capture the flora, fauna and beautiful views of Stafford Lake and hills of Marin. Taking time for the benches that offer both a seat and a vista adds to the leisurely pleasure of a walk along this single-track trail through grasslands and stands of oak, bay and even redwoods.
The close solo communion with nature along this trail fits the name it bears, a tribute to the late Elizabeth Terwilliger, a Marin conservationist, wildlife enthusiast, educator and outdoors columnist for the Marin IJ.
To get to the trail itself, enter at the park gate and pay the entry fee of $5 or use your annual Marin County Parks pass. Take a right past the entry station and park in one of the lots near the bike park. A path runs between the bike park and the disc golf course — which means you’ll need to be on the lookout for flying discs — and when you spot a bridge on your left, cross it. There’s a sign that says “no bikes allowed” at that juncture, and the park itself does not allow dogs. Just past this bridge is a somewhat makeshift laminated sign pointing you to the Terwilliger Trail.
After crossing a second bridge and following signs leading you away from the disc golfers and to the hiking path, you’ll face a trail that leads upward to the left and one that goes straight. Do not go straight, because just a few steps later you’ll become a trespasser on private property (it’s marked). Go left and begin the gentle climb that ends about three quarters of a mile later at the grand elevation of 395 feet (119 meters) above sea level.
Along the way, those benches beckon. Take a moment to settle on one and behold the views each carefully placed seat offers. Some are in sun, some are in shade, but all show off the gentle splendor that keeps us all in thrall to the outdoors in our area.
If you look closer to hand, good fortune may favor you in the form of fence lizards, jackrabbits, deer and a variety of birds that cycle through…
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