By Peder Fish
Lets face it. There is not a whole lot to do in Novato. However, if you enjoy hiking then Indian Valley Open Space Preserve is the place to go.
I went to Indian Valley to explore some of the trails hidden within the city limits. These trails I went on were not beginner trails but are not advanced either. Senior Carson Ceresa has explored these trails and is an avid outdoorsman.
“Best time of year would probably be spring, because everything is still green and it's right after all the rains of winter,” Ceresa said, regarding the best times to hike. “Best time of day would be early morning or late afternoon,” said Ceresa.
Before you do any of these, remember to bring water, wear good shoes, keens and ariats are great for hikes, and bring a little bit of food for energy.
Also, be mindful and aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout for rattlesnakes, coyotes, and especially poison oak.
You are guaranteed to see a vast amount of other wildlife at Indian Valley. Most commonly western-fence lizards, blacktail deer, red-tailed hawks, and turkey vultures.
I did the Pacheco Pond trail, Witzel trail, and Buzzard Burn trail. Pacheco Pond trail is the best overall trail for people who just want to take a walk in the woods. However if you're up for more of a challenge, then the Buzzard Burn trail loop, which is about 2 ½ miles and mostly uphill, will have you burning.
I was fortunate enough to speak with history teacher Tim Mahoney who is an expert hiker and is out on the trails almost every week. I spoke with him about his experience on the trails.
“The most important absolute thing you must do on a hike is tell someone where you are going, and if you can't tell someone where you are going you have to leave a note in your car, telling someone what your itinerary is," said Mahoney. "In addition to hiking, I do Marin County Search and Rescue Team, and the people that are in the most trouble are the people who don't tell anyone where they go. So if I could only say one thing to people is tell someone where you are going. Beyond that, you just got to be prepared. In Marin county, the weather can change like that. It can go from hot and sunny, to rainy and cold really really quickly, so I would always bring a light little layer. (It) does not mean you have to bring a fat jacket, but like a really really thin waterproof layer."