The hike Barnabe Peak is arguably the best outing in Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Your reward at the top is the amazing view and a satisfying feeling of accomplishment.
From the roadside parking along Sir Francis Drake Blvd., take the paved Devil's Gulch Road
for about 100 yards until you see a trail on the right that follows Devil's Gulch Creek. Follow this ferny trail for another 100 yards to the junction marked with a huge, hollow redwood tree. Bill's Trail
, which is currently closed for reconstruction, branches to the left here. Turn right to begin the climb on Gravesite Road
Begin the ascent, keeping an eye out for shade-loving wildflowers tucked among majestic old trees. At the next trail junction, turn left onto the Barnabe Fire Road
. This road will climb until you reach the exposed ridge line of Barnabe Peak and the upper junction with Bill's Trail
. If you've made it this far, it would be a shame not to take in the stupendous views from Barnabe Peak, so it is highly recommended that you trudge up Barnabe Fire Road
(heading left/east) for the worthwhile out-and-back to Barnabe Peak's summit. From the summit, you'll marvel at the panorama that includes views of Mount Tamalpais, Bolinas Ridge
, Mt. Diablo, Lagunitas, Tomales Bay, and Point Reyes. In case you're curious, Barnabe Peak is named after (the explorer) John Fremont's mule who, once he was retired, frequently escaped from Samuel P. Taylor's farm to ramble this area.
When you're finished admiring the views, retrace your steps back down the ridge on Barnabe Fire Road
(sometimes labeled "Riding and Hiking Trail"). Pass the junction with Bill's Trail
and continue steeply downhill, pausing when needed to rest your legs! The trail moves steadily through open, nondescript fields scattered with coyote brush, but watch for wildflowers in the spring. Just before the 6-mile mark, at a trail junction, take Gravesite Road
straight, abandoning Barnabe Fire Road
(also called "Riding and Hiking Trail").
If you have navigated this turn correctly, you should see the white fence surrounding Samuel P. Taylor's gravesite in a meadow about 100 yards from the main trail. Take the Taylor's Gravesite Spur
if you'd like to pay your respects. Samuel P. Taylor opened the first paper mill on the west coast and importantly supplied the paper for San Francisco's newspapers. He lived from 1827 to 1896 and also established the town of Taylorville where the state park is today.
Follow the Gravesite Road
down through a wet, wooded valley called Deadman's Gulch and then back around the hillside towards Devil's Gulch. Travel more level ground to arrive at the bridge and junction with Bill's Trail
. Take a left and cross the bridge before taking another left at the redwood tree to regain Devil's Gulch Road
Note: Devil's Gulch Trail
, Bill's Trail
and Taylor's Gravesite Spur
are all foot-traffic only, the other trails in this loop allow bikes.
Bay trees, Douglas fir, madrone, eucalyptus, maple, laurel,live oak, buckeye, redwood, nutmeg, ferns, wild rose, hazelnut, poison oak, and wildflowers (in the spring). Banana slugs & butterflies.