In 1965, the Town of San Anselmo acquired 62 acres at the end of San Francisco Boulevard. Dairy cows had grazed the hillsides since the late 1800s. In 1945, Nicholas and Genevieve Sorich purchased the land and the San Anselmo Dairy from the Spagnoli family who had been operating there since the 1920s. First called Nick's Dairy, the Soriches renamed it So-Rich Dairy in 1950. In 1953, they sold their milk routes to Lucas Valley Dairy and scaled back their operation. The Town used a portion of the land for a corporation yard and the remaining acreage was designated for a park. Unfortunately, the park was largely neglected. Around 1990 the Open Space Committee, with the support of some of the neighbors, took the initiative to turn it into a real park that could be enjoyed by everyone. The Committee helped plant native oaks and convinced the Marin County Open Space District to install a new trail connecting San Anselmo to the Mt. Tam Cemetery and the Terra Linda divide.
The next step involved the development of a Master Plan for the Park to preserve its open space quality. With the assistance of Tom Murphy, a landscape architecture graduate student from UC Berkeley, the plan was prepared and eventually approved by the Town Council. This enabled the Committee to seek and receive a matching grant for $20,000 from the State of California. For every dollar and volunteer hour the Town invested in the Park, the State agreed to match that amount. Improvements have included native plants and trees, a drinking fountain, new picnic tables, a new arbor, as well as drainage improvements. In addition, the parking area was relocated away from the central feature of the park, a fabulous rock outcropping. Subsequently, the Committee applied for and received another $5,000 grant from the Marin Community Foundation and a $5,000 grant from the Longs Foundation.
In 2005 the Open Space Committee placed a memorial plaque in the redwood grove to honor John Walters, who worked for years to preserve and protect open space in San Anselmo. The plaque was made by local artist Jonathan Braun, co-chair of the committee.
In 2006, local Eagle Scout Liam Hughes constructed a new trail from the redwood grove to an old rock fort in the upper reaches of Sorich Creek. The trail was named the Dean Nyberg Trail in honor of the longtime Parks Director and friend of open space.
A volunteer community group, the Friends of Sorich Park, meets on the second Saturday of each month to mow weeds, pull broom, plant native trees and grasses, and maintain an irrigation system. The fate of nearby private lands will be critical to the long-term success of this wonderful open space.
Access & Trails:
From the Hub, proceed west on Sir Francis Drake past Red Hill Shopping Center. Turn right at the next light onto San Francisco Boulevard and go to the end of the road, straight into Sorich Park.
Recommended Walk to Rock Fort
Distance: 1/3 mile each way
Elevation: 200' climb
Difficulty: Easy. A favorite for families with small children.
Dogs are permitted off-leash if they are under voice command until they reach the eucalyptus forest at which time they must be on six-foot leashes. Hefty fines are imposed. Do not allow your dog to chase wildlife or harass other park visitors. Please clean up after your dog. Poop bags and trash cans are available near the parking lot. A dog-friendly drinking fountain is near the redwood grove.
No bikes or horses.
From the parking lot at 80’ elevation, walk back down the driveway past the Sorich Park sign. Water, trash cans, and doggie bags are available here. Walk into the redwood grove. On your left are some shady picnic tables, ideal for lunch on a hot day. Just beyond is a memorial to John Walters, long active in open space issues in San Anselmo. John grew from seed the row of redwoods on your right. At .05 miles is a junction in some big rocks. The trail to the right leads to the picnic arbor. Turn left to the signed Dean Nyberg Trail (constructed by Eagle Scout Liam Hughes and your Open Space Committee, in honor of a former Parks Director). Cross the bridge and start a series of five switchbacks up the hillside. Please stay on the trail and avoid the cutoffs to minimize erosion. At .22 miles, just past a pretty boulder on the right, is the final switchback. Follow a long traverse back across the hill, giving views of Mount Tamalpais, Red Hill, and Sunny Hills Ridge across the valley. At .32 miles you reach the highest point of the trail at 270’ and descend into a lovely grove at .33 miles. On your left are some ancient buckeyes that are covered with very fragrant flowers in early spring. A spectacular circle of immense rocks lies just below, shaded by a giant buckeye and a bay tree. Inside the rocks is a secluded space, once enclosed by a rock wall that gave the place its name – a great spot for a lunch or a meditation. Do not go down the trail directly below the fort, as it is steep and has been heavily eroded.