You're in another world here, a picture-perfect rural valley bordering on the Golden Gate National Parks and Point Reyes National Seashore. This pastoral landscape stretches for nine miles, its ribbon of Highway 1 unspooling between the slopes of Bolinas and Inverness Ridge, past grazing cattle and Victorian farmhouses. Here you have an opportunity to experience two national parks in one trip.
The redwood and fir forests from this valley provided lumber used to build San Francisco; logging transformed parts of the ridge into grassland and chaparral.
Plan Your Visit
- The Bolinas/Fairfax road is often closed in winter due to landslides and in summer due to fire hazards.
- Olema Valley has limited public facilities so please carry water and other necessities when hiking.
- To experience the region’s ranching past, drive down Highway 1 between Wilkins Ranch and the town of Olema.
The San Andreas Fault
A rift zone containing many faults and lines of geologic activity, the San Andreas Fault slices straight through Olema Valley. The west side and Point Reyes sit on the Pacific plate and the east side and rest of the continent on the North American plate. A good place to learn more about the quake zone is the educational trail from Point Reyes National Seashore’s Bear Valley Visitor Center.
Growing along the creeks in Olema Valley is an ancient plant species called “scouring rush,” also known as horsetail. Pioneers discovered silica in the plant and used it to scour pans. The plant is also a good cure for rash caused by stinging.