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Hiking in Olompali State Historic Park

Today I want to share my guide to hiking in Olompali State Historic Park in Marin County with you. This under-the-radar spot is great for getting outdoors in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it’s a fun place for hikes in Northern California. There’s lots of history here, too, including connections to everything from the Bear Flag Revolt to the Grateful Dead. Yep, they were here.

Olompali State Historic Park Hikes

Olompali State Historic Park

Olompali is a 700-acre California State Park on land that was once the Rancho Olompali. It’s home to some of my favorite Marin County hikes, but there’s more to this unique part of the North Bay than just trails.

The area’s original inhabitants were Coast Miwok. They lived here from as early as 6000 BC until the early 1850s. In 1843, Camilo Ynitia, the acting head of the village, received the only patented grant from the U.S. government to a Northern California Native American. Thus was born the ranch.

In 1846, Ynitia’s adobe house was the site of the Battle of Olompali during the Bear Flag Revolt, a brief independence rebellion by American settlers against the ruling Mexican government. He sold the land in 1852 and it remained in the new owner’s family for several generations.

Olompali State Historic Park View
Olompali State Historic Park View

The historic buildings on the property have since been owned and rented by everyone from the University of San Francisco to the Grateful Dead and a hippie commune called The Chosen Family.

In 1977, the State of California purchased the land and turned it into Olompali State Historic Park.

View from a trail Olompali State Historic Park
View from the Miwok Loop Trail

Interestingly, the oldest surviving house north of the San Francisco Bay is located here. Built by Camilo Ynitia’s father from adobe bricks in 1776, it’s a California Historical Landmark.

Even more exciting (to me, anyway), is the fact that archeologists discovered an Elizabethan silver sixpence from 1567 on the grounds. It’s thought that locals may have had contact with famed English explorer and privateer Sir Francis Drake or those who had traded with him.

Bay Area view from an Olompali State Park hiking trail
Miwok Loop Trail View

Olompali State Park Hikes

But back to hiking. When you arrive at Olompali State Park you’ll be greeted by the historic Burdell Mansion and its surrounding gardens and ranch facility. There’s a visitor center and picnic tables near the entrance, and smaller houses, barns, and a model of a Coast Miwok village a bit farther into the park.

There are hiking trails throughout the grounds, and they’re great places to get into nature and see this unique part of the Bay Area. There are great views of the Petaluma River and San Pablo Bay from the trails leading up to Mount Burdell, too.

Miwok Loop Trail at Olompali State Historic Park
Miwok Loop Trail

Opening Hours

Olompali State Historic Park is open every day from 9:00am to 5:00pm, so there’s plenty of time to explore the grounds and get on the trails.

Wild Irises
Wild Irises

How to Get to Olompali State Historic Park

It’s easy to get to the park from San Francisco or the North Bay. The entrance is at 8901 Redwood Boulevard just off Highway 101 in Novato. It’s really close to the freeway, so it’s convenient to access.

From San Francisco it’s around a 40-minute drive to the park, making it a great option for a day trip from the city. Better yet, if you’re heading up to Napa or Sonoma you can stop for a hike on the way.

Olompali State Park House
Historic House at Olompali State Park

Parking and Fee

One thing that surprised me when I got to Olompali State Historic Park is that there’s a fee for parking, and it’s cash only. Payment is made in an envelope you can get from the yellow fee deposit tube at the west end of the parking lot. Parking is 8 dollars per vehicle, and you’ll need exact change since the lot is unattended.

Olompali House View
View from the Miwok Loop Trail

Hiking in Olompali State Historic Park

Once you’re here, there are lots of hikes you can do in the park. The 2.4-mile Miwok Loop Trail will take you up the lower hillside of Mount Burdell. If you’re looking for something more challenging, you can do the 9-mile loop trail to the peak, which reaches an altitude of 1,558 feet.

Olompali Hiking Trail Signpost
Trail Signpost

Miwok Loop Trail

I did the Miwok Loop Trail at Olompali State Historic Park. I arrived with my boyfriend on a sunny afternoon and we started the hike by walking past the visitor center and historic house to get to the trail. From there the wide path curved around to reveal heritage buildings and barns. It then led us up to the recreated Coast Miwok Village.

Olompali Miwok Village
Coast Miwok Village

After the trail passed the village, it took us through wooded areas full of oak trees and wildflowers. As we got higher up the hillside, we caught peek-a-boo glimpses of San Pablo Bay through the trees. It was so quiet and peaceful, and we couldn’t believe we had the whole trail to ourselves.

Just over half a mile from the village, we came to the intersection with the Mount Burdell trail. It went another 3.35 miles to the peak, but we continued on the Miwok Loop. It circled around through more woods and open spaces with great views of the Bay Area below. As we went, we took in everything from wild irises to grazing deer.

View through the trees in Olompali State Park
View from the Miwok Loop Trail

After just under 2 hours, the path brought us back to the buildings near the Miwok Village. We retraced our steps to the Burdell Mansion and the parking lot, where we got back in the car to continue our day with a trip up to Healdsburg in Sonoma County.

As we left, we couldn’t stop talking about how much we enjoyed the hike. The wildflowers, views, history, and tranquility of the area impressed us. We made a note to come back and hike to the top of Mount Burdell in the future.

Olompali State Park Buildings
House at Olompali State Park

Olompali State Park Trail Map

If you want to follow in our footsteps and see a map of the trails at Olompali, you can find a number of them here. I hope they help you plan your trip and choose your route. There’s a lot more information about the park on the website as well.

Miwok Loop Trail at Olompali State Park
Miwok Loop Trail

Olompali State Historic Park Hikes

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to hiking in Olompali State Historic Park. It’s fun to do, and you can make it as challenging or as easy as you want to. It’s great to pair it with a trip to wine country or elsewhere in the North Bay afterwards, too.

If you’re looking for additional inspiration, you can take a look at my blog post with all the Bay Area hiking trails I’ve written about. Happy hiking!

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Olompali State Historic Park Hikes

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