"Deer Island isn’t exactly an island. It is, rather, a 200-foot high hill that rises on the eastern edge of Novato and surrounded by seasonal wetlands. The 154-acre open space preserve lies within the extensive watershed of the Petaluma River Delta. Originally, Deer Island truly was an island, encircled by streams, marshes, wetlands, and the encroaching tides of San Pablo Bay. In the mid- 1800s, dikes were built and waterways were drained for pastureland, altering the landscape. This mini-refuge, where the hills meet the flood plain, is easily accessible and a popular get-away for local residents. A nearlevel trail loops around the perimeter of the preserve along the marsh’s edge. From the perimeter loop are a couple of short detours to overlooks. The trail leads through open grassland, pockets of California bay laurel, eucalyptus, and buckeye. A second trail climbs to the grassy ridge and follows the spine amid a mixed oak savannah. The ridge trail connects with the loop trail on each end."