Rush Creek

Marin County Open Space District is the most sophisticated public land manager that I've found yet in the Bay Area.  They've realized that trying to enforce a use fee discourages use and actually generates less income due to the cost of enforcement, so they don't bother trying to make you pay for parking.  They also realized that most dog owners are responsible, and again that a stricter regulation costs more through enforcement, so they simply require dogs to be leashed.  The result is a dog-friendly, easy-to-use park system with a huge amount of terrain that I've barely gotten to explore.

On Tuesday I headed out and ran Rush Creek again, but this time checked out a trail not listed on the current map.  The Bahia Ridge Trail starts from the north gate of the Rush Creek Fire Road and tops out at 240', then splits - you can end the trail at a gate oposite Cerro Crest Drive on Bahia Avenue or a second gate immediately east of the horse arena.  To make a nice loop that didn't include a lot of traffic I started at the west entrance, ran the Pinheiro Fire Road east to the Cemetery Marsh cut-off trail, then followed the Bahia Ridge Trail from the north to south, choosing the western (shorter) fork down to Bahia Avenue, where I ran back to the cemetery and picked up the Pinheiro Fire Road again and followed it completely back west to the car.

running along the Pinheiro Fire Road
 looking east from Bahia Ridge 
the western portion of the Pinheiro Fire Road follows the edge of the Rush Creek Marsh

Easy to access, easy to follow, and relatively flat, Rush Creek has become my favorite quick run spot.  I'm interested in running this loop again to follow the south-eastern end of the Bahia Ridge Trail, and to follow the Rush Creek Fire Road as it wraps around the ridge to follow the green line on the map that separates the open space from the California Dept of Fish and Game lands.
Statistics:  Rush Creek Open Space, Marin County Open Space District, Novato, CA; Pinheiro Fire Road - Bahia Ridge Trail - Pinheiro Fire Road.  5.3 miles, 450 feet elevation gained/lost, 56 minutes