This week is a good time to go see the migrating shorebirds before they head out for the spring and summer months. With the barometer rising after the recent rains, the weather is fine. Grasses are greening up and a few wildflowers are starting to peek through. Marin only has a few locations where there are easy trails next to marshlands. Rush Creek is great for the mix of bay shore and woodlands and the vast numbers of shorebirds.
Normally we park out near Highway 101 as we mentioned in a , but this time we recommend entering though the eastern end, close to the sloughs and marshes where the wildlife hangs out. Also, the entrance to Rush Creek out by 101 can very muddy. We drove out to the end of Bahia Avenue in Novato, and walked onto Bahia Trail near the marsh area that is owned by the Marin Audubon Society.
The Audubon Society has chosen its land well. According to the Marin County Parks website, this area has the best birding in the North Bay outside of Point Reyes Peninsula, with 196 regularly occurring species.
Bahia Trail is the centerpiece of the area. Winding its way along the shoreline under the cover of mixed oaks, bays and madrones, the trail widens and contours around the ridge before coming to Cemetery Marsh, a large lagoon-like waterway. We like to come here at high tide. The marsh is full of water and the birds come to get shelter and feed. The high tide often pressures voles and mice out of hiding, leaving them exposed to predators. Egrets and herons can often be seen taking advantage of the tide and catching the small rodents.
There is a trail that crosses Cemetary Marsh on a old levee, but it is not passable at high tide. Once you are done enjoying the marsh you can head up Bahia Ridge Trail for a different route back. Many of the oaks are deciduous so the canopy of leaves is gone for the winter. The look is similar to an area burned by fire, and is pretty unique in Marin. Views of the bay are scattered through the oaks.
All but one short trail is open to all users. Dogs on leash OK.
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.