Rarely do you find as serene a place as Sky Oaks Meadow in the . The small savannah is dotted with oak trees that harbor peacefully grazing deer, clutches of wild turkeys, and a swath of wetland. We love to start a hike or run through this flat and picturesque meadow. Take the time to look and listen for the birds and mammals that reside in the meadow.
Bullfrog Fire Road and Trail bisects the meadow and then turns south to run along a long finger of Alpine Lake. The small ravine that contains the Alpine Lake water is densely foliaged, providing great cover for fish, frogs and turtles. We startled a snowy egret out on the hunt.
Bullfrog Road ends along an open vista of Alpine Lake where the Bon Tempe Lake Dam spillway empties into Alpine. Lake Lagunitas, Bon Tempe Lake, and Alpine Lake form a string of lakes that feed from one to the other.
Our hike takes us along Alpine and Bon Tempe Lakes and then back to Sky Oaks. To get to the wooded side of Bon Tempe you must climb the largest elevation of the hike, about 100 ft. up the road to the Bon Tempe Dam. From there you cross over the dam to run along the Shadyside Trail along the lake.
Even though fall is arriving, evidence of the change is rare along the shady side of Bon Tempe. The tall evergreen trees create deep shade and several streams are crossed by wooden bridges. Brilliant blue lake glimpses peek through the trees. We love the contrast from the grasslands of Sky Oaks Meadow.
The Shadyside Trail ends at the base of the Lagunitas reservoir. For some added length you can add the one and a half mile loop around Lagunitas to your hike.
The way back is the Alex Forman Trail that crosses over a peninsula of land surrounded by Bon Tempe Lake and then parallels the Sky Oaks Road. The Alex Forman Trail was given generous room to enjoy the native habitats along the way without a feeling of encroachment from the road. The oaks are old and venerable. Irises, coyote bush, and sticky monkey flower provide texture and depth to the dry grasslands.
This weekend there could be a cool breeze kicking up the season's first real rainfall, so get out there and enjoy it now!
See the book "Hiking Marin: 141 Great Hikes in Marin County" for more details. Click here to go the Marin Trails website, where you can find more information about the book.