Novato, California is the...
Novato, California is the northernmost city in Marin
County, approximately twenty-nine miles north of San Francisco
and thirty-seven miles northwest of Oakland. Novato covers twenty-eight
square miles. As of the 2000 Census, Novato has a population of 47,630
which is 76.3% White, 13.1% Hispanic, 5.1% Asian, 1.9% Black and 3.6%
all other races.
The highest point in Novato is Mt. Burdell at 1,558 feet. The
elevation in downtown Novato is 18 feet. The mean annual temperature
is 67 degrees, with an average minimum of 46 degrees and an average
maximum of 71 degrees. Rainfall averages approximately 27.5 inches
per year. Novato is California's 151st largest city.
The City of Novato was incorporated on January 20, 1960 as a general
law city. The City Council is made up of five members, elected
at large, serving four-year terms. The Mayor is selected for a
one-year term from among the members of the City Council. The
City operates under a council-manager form of government. The
City Council appoints the City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk.
*Picture courtesy of marin.org.
Horseback on the trails
There are numerous horse stables in Novato, but my favorite is Willow Tree Stables. There you can take lessons in Western and English style riding, as well as rent horses for a trail ride (the stables provides a leader for the trail ride). In the Summer, they have Sunset rides where you can ride up the hills and along the ridges to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
Monte, the owner, is a great teacher and skilled horsewoman. Highly recommended! Wear boots with a heel, so your feet can be snug in the stirrups and wear long pants. A hat and sunscreen are good if you're riding in the sun a lot.
"More than just a place with a Target and a Costco"
Although some locals will take issue with this description, Novato, California is mainly a bedroom community of San Francisco. It has a population of over 47,000, but has a relatively small commercial base for its population size. The few substantial businesses, like Firemen's Fund and Birkenstock's US headquarters, certainly cannot employ the entire town. Many people living in Novato head south to San Francisco to work and shop.
"Old reasons to come here"
Although Novato is the town immediately to my north, I used to come here only for limited purposes - shop at Target (but only when I was mentally prepared for the crowds and long lines), get my car washed at Matt & Jeff's (they donate eScrip to schools!), or drive through town on my way to Indian Valley Golf Course.
"New reasons to come here"
Lately, in Novato, I have been exploring places I have overlooked. Novato has some beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails outside its developed areas. When I get away from the development and head for the hills, frankly, I'm surprised that I haven't spent more time here.
Out with the old, and in with the new...
Hiking in Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve
"or "How I worship on Sunday morning""
Called "Hidden Lake", this lake certainly isn't misnamed. I can't even see the lake. Can't see any water either. I'm sure it must be there somewhere, but the marshes completely hide it. If this were in the South, you'd probably have some gators in there, but this ain't the South.
"Text book Marin County scene"
These features are the favorites of landscape artists who come to paint in Marin - smooth rolling hills trying to be mountains, slopes covered by grassy meadows, dotted with oaks, bays and buckeyes.
"Looking south to San Francisco"
As you ascend, the views of Novato and then more of Marin County come into view. Although it will probably be difficult to see with the resolution of this picture, the Bay Bridge is visible on the left side and the highest floors of the tallest buildings in San Francisco are peaking over those hills in the background.
A lone red-winged blackbird sits on a reed of grass. You usually don't see blackbirds in the Marin County hills. They are much more common in the low lying wetlands. This one must feed at the Hidden Lake marsh I passed by.
"Pierre Joske Grove"
This grove of trees isn't any more remarkable than other groves that I could see, but it got a name. Pierre Joske was the first general manager of the Marin County Open Space District and served in that capacity from 1972 to 1982.
"A Grove with No Name"
The trail winds through another grove - this one is unnamed.
"Bay laurel grove"
The foot trail at the lower elevation takes you through a lush green bay laurel grove.
"Buckeye blossom season"
The east coast has the cherry blossom season. Here in Marin in May and June, the buckeyes are blossoming at full force. You'll see these California buckeyes all over the County. The California buckeye is one of about 36 indigenous tree species. The blossoms, which are cones of delicate flowers, are very pretty when you get closer to the tree.
Camillo Ynitia, 1816 - 1856
Part of Ynitia’s adobe walls still stand enclosed in a shed to prevent further deterioration.
Olompali features several historic buildings, including the adobe house of Camilo Ynitia, the last hoipu, headman of the Miwok community. Camillo Ynitia was born in 1816, probably at the Park site.
In 1843, General Mariano Vallejo granted 8,900 acres to Camilo Ynitia, a Christianized Olompali Miwok. Dating from the 1830’s this structure represents a time when the Miwok Indians were abandoning their traditional dwellings in favor of more sheltered adobe homes.
Archaeologist's have found many artifacts, the most spectacular of these discoveries was an Elizabethan silver sixpence dated 1567, the time of Sir Francis Drake's landing in Marin County.
During the 'Bear Flag Revolt" in June 1846, a brief, but violent skirmish took place between a troop of American Bear Flaggers and a Mexican force gathered at Camilo Ynitia's adobe. Several men were wounded and one man was killed. The fight was later popularized as " The Battle of Olompali."