It’s understandable why the Miwok Indians chose to keep a village at the base of this mountain for 6,000 years. The rise they called Olompali had oaks shedding acorns, their main food source, and grasslands that supported plenty of animals to hunt for food. Fresh water for drinking (not anymore) ran down the ravine. You can imagine them making special tribute to the great rock spirits, black volcanic, green serpentine, and pale yellow sandstone on the hillsides. Starting in Novato’s backyard, this hike ascends the mountain, past the quarry sites that provided cobblestones for the streets of San Francisco. It takes you over great expanses of grassland: golden and flowing in summer, green like English countryside in winter, and sprinkled with a rainbow of wildflowers and fluttering butterflies in spring. It dips under the dappled shade of bay and oak trees, along gurgling seasonal creeks, then back onto open hillsides before you finally reach the ridge of this extinct volcano and Novato’s highest hill. A low stone wall invites you to sit for a while before the descent, though it is hardly wilderness, with a repeater station and satellite nearby. But the views are rewarding. On the northwest side is Bowl Meadow, a pastoral delight with scampering gray squirrels and maybe black-tailed deer, voles, raccoons, foxes, and badgers. Western meadowlarks and savanna sparrows nest in the grassy meadow. In the sky, which seems larger over the meadow, red-shouldered hawks and American kestrels circle. There are no facilities in this open space preserve. This eTrail also includes suggested nearby attractions, camping & lodging, restaurants, and local outdoor retailers.
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