Your San Anselmo Open Space Committee, in concert with the Town Council and the Department of Public Works, has recently completed a project to build a new hiking trail to the top of historic Red Hill.
Construction of the trail was begun in 2017 and it was officially opened on April 28, 2018.
Access & Trails:
It begins at a signed trailhead behind Westamerica Bank, the Edo Grill, and Walgreens just east of the Red Hill Shopping Center. Parking is available in the shopping center or in the parking lot at the end of Shaw Drive.
Distance: 3/4 mile each way (out and back only. No connection to other trails)
Elevation: 400' at a comfortable grade
Difficulty: Medium (very kid-friendly but too narrow and steep for a stroller)
Dogs are permitted off leash, but they should be under voice command.
No bike or horses.
Beautiful views on the way up and at the summit. The round trip can be done in an hour, but allow more for admiring the views and a possible picnic on the summit. There are trash and recycling bins at the trailhead, along with a Doggipot. No water is available on the trail, which can get warm in the summer.
The trail starts in a small meadow and soon enters a eucalyptus forest, a few of which are gigantic. After crossing a small ravine, you enter a second sloping meadow, with views of the Red Hill Dog Park and sports fields below. Soon the trail enters a forest of bays, oaks, and madrones and crosses an ancient landslide scar. Here it begins to switchback up through a lovely open forest. After a welcome level stretch, you will find a section reinforced with a guard railing, built by Ted Van Midde Concrete Contractors. Crossing yet another steep meadow, the trail enters an oak forest and joins an old dirt road climbing up from below. This road was built by Chinese laborers in the 1870s for Dr. Henry DuBois, a San Rafael physician, Union Army surgeon during the Civil War, and the founder of Mount Tamalpais Cemetery. As an interpretive sign explains, the road was only used once. Scan the QR code on the sign with your phone for more detail about DuBois and the road.
From this point on, the trail follows the old road as it switchbacks across the steep open meadow on the west side of Red Hill. Each pass across the meadow is higher than the last, offering ever-changing views of San Anselmo, Mount Tamalpais, Bald Hill, and the Ross Valley. A second sign contains a historic photo taken from the same spot, showing how much the Ross Valley has changed in the last century. In the 1920s this whole hillside was proposed for a housing development, but fortunately, nothing came of the idea.
The final switchback continues around the north side of the hill and eventually reaches the summit meadow, offering spectacular views in all directions. More interpretive signs show historic photos of the views south and east from the summit, including San Rafael, San Francisco Bay, Mount Diablo, and the City itself. A rock outcropping at the highest point shows that Red Hill was once a submarine volcano. A large socket in the rock once supported a 20-foot-high white wooden cross that once crowned the hill. Enjoy the views, have a picnic (but haul out your trash), then return by the same route.