This loop trail that circles Six Points Trail and Yolanda Trail North is a nice local get-away during the summer months. The trail passes through the cool deep shade of redwood groves and woodlands, and then breaks out into open grasslands with fabulous views along the higher portions of the trail.
Start your hike at Deer Park. The park is easy to get to, with plenty of parking, and has water, restrooms, and picnic tables. Go to the left of the school on a bypass trail and cross the field. Deer Park Fire Road begins at the gate just past a magnificent bay tree and heads into a canyon. The road is dusty this time of year as it is very popular with hikers, dog walkers, and bicyclists. About a half a mile in is Oak Tree Junction (#1 on map). Take a left and hike up the small side canyon on Six Points Trail.
The trail follows a shady creek through the redwoods up to a ridge. We noticed a few pools of water remain in the creekbed, providing just enough sustenance for the local animals to survive the dry summer months. Goldback fern can be found along this section of trail. In the summer and fall the Goldback fern spores on the underside of the leaf are mature and golden. You can make a wonderful fern print by pushing the underside of the leaf (side with the spores) onto dark fabric (cotton seems to work best).
Six Points Junction (#2 on map) awaits you as you break out of the woodlands onto the ridge. Take a moment to walk out to the fabulous view of Mount Tamalpais. Many people use this great spot for picnicking. The route continues by taking Yolanda Trail North (a left turn at the junction) towards Worn Springs Fire Road. The narrow contouring trail meanders in and out of bay, buckeye, and oak woodlands.
Yolanda Trail meets with Worn Spring Fire Road about two miles into the hike. Turn left and head downhill. Glimpses of San Francisco Bay are the reward for the climbing you did earlier in the canyon. A small trail on the left called Buckeye Trail bypasses a steep section of Worn Spring Road. The last junction is a quarter mile further. The sign reads "Deer Park Trail" (#3 on map). Take this trail to the left to wind your way back down to Deer Park.
In the summer and fall, the rattlesnake grass turns brown; it is easy to spot because the top of the grass has seedpods that look like a rattle on a rattlesnake. It is fun to rattle them when they're dry. This section of trail has amazing wildflowers in the spring that you will want to come back to see. A few remnants of the flower display were still tucked into shady spots when we passed by last week. At the bottom of the hill bear right towards the schoolyard and parking area.
From Sir Francis Drake Road. drive west to Fairfax. At the stoplight in town, turn left at Claus, then another immediate left on Broadway, and a quick right onto Bolinas Road. In about a mile take a left on Porteous and drive the mile or so in to Deer Park. Parking during school hours is closest to the entrance of the park.
From the book Hiking Marin: 141 Great Hikes by Don and Kay Martin.
Visit Marin Trails for more information.