Olompali State Historic Park

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Being a state historic park, you'd expect Olompali to have a number of features of historic interest in addition to trails, and you'd be right. Olompali was the site of possibly the largest Coast Miwok village in what is now Marin County. The park boasts a recreated "Miwok Village" showing examples of the structures built by the Miwok for shelter and storage. A garden nearby includes descriptions of the medicinal and food usages of numerous native plants along with both the Bodega and Marin Miwok names for them.

Camilo Ynitia built an adobe home here and became village head man. He garnered the support of General Mariano Vallejo and with his help secured a land grant of almost 9,000 acres from the Mexican government. Ynitia was the only Native American to secure a land grant in Northern California. Under later U.S. administration, Ynitia's land grant was called into question despite General Vallejo's support. In a shrewd move to prevent confiscation of the land he sold the bulk of the acreage to Marin County assessor James Black.

Black's daughter Mary married Galen Burdell in 1863 and the two transformed Olompali into a working ranch. Many of the buildings remaining today are the result of their efforts. Between 1943 and 1977 ownership changed hands numerous times with some interesting owners and tenants residing here at times. In the 1960's the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Grace Slick were known to have spent time here. A group known as the "Chosen Family" attempted to set up a commune. The state purchased the property in 1977 to preserve it as the park we know today.

The Trails

The trails at Olompali can be broken up into three sections, each providing a different level of difficulty for the visitor.

The farm

The walkways and dirt roads in and around the Burdell farm buildings requires the least amount of effort in the park. At this level some of the trails could also be considered ADA compliant.

The Loop

At the back of the farm area the Loop Trail and the Miwok Trail together form a loop that ascends partway up Mount Burdell.

Mount Burdell

Extending from the top of the Miwok Village Loop, the trail leading up to the top of Mount Burdell presents the most difficult mileage in the park.

The grasses have already turned almost completely brown. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Trail View
A typical view on the trails at Olompali State Park. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Petaluma River
A view of the Petaluma River from the Burdell Trail. A bent over California Buckeye can be seen in the foreground. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Miwok Village
The Miwok Village off of the Miwok Trail shows examples of village structures and the plants they used for food and medicine. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Small segments of grassland opened up on the side trail we took. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Tree Cover
Most of the trail has ample tree cover. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
San Pablo Bay
From our resting spot we could easily see into San Pablo Bay and even Mount Diablo in the distance. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Rock Wall
Several rock walls marked boundaries in the past. The Burdell Trail passes right through one. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Trail View
A view of the trail as it hugs the slope of the mountain. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Looking East
A view from near the top with the Petaluma River flowing to the right and the City of Petaluma on the left. Behind both rises Sonoma Mountain. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
And another
And another switchback. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Coppertone on one of the many switchbacks along the trail as it steadily gains altitude. (Photo by Austin Explorer)

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Log Entries
Miwok-Burdell-Loop Trails and Miwok Village
By Austin Explorer on 6/10/2017
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 5.30 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 26 minutes

Coppertone and I returned to Olompali State Park for the second time.  This time around we went with a couple of friends from the Sonoma Newcomers Group.

Unlike our last trip to the park in August of last year we saw fewer ground squirrels around the area of the park's farm structures.  They seemed to be under or in every structure or crevice in the past.  This time around we did spot two deer bedding down next to the large dead tree stumb next to the Burdell Barns, both when we headed up the hill to start and when we descended later in the day.

Since we tackled the Miwok Village earlier in the day this time around we were able to devote some more effort to reading the interpretive signs.  The signs for native plants in the garden area included not only their uses but also the names ascribed to them by both the Bodega area and Marin area Miwok groups.

We only saw a few people on the trail today and three of them were workers clearing some vegetation in the creek adjacent to the trail.

Unlike our 11+ mile outing to the top of Mount Burdell, we opted to ascend only a mile above the connection with the Loop Trail before turning back and completing the loop.  This still afforded us a couple of nice views over the Petaluma River.  Our turnaround point was probably fairly close to the point where the switchbacks and steepness up the mountain racket up a notch.

More switchbacks and mileage than expected
By Austin Explorer on 8/28/2016
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 11.68 Miles Duration: 6 hours, 18 minutes

Coppertone and I headed to this park expecting to get in about 6 miles of hiking.  We ended up doing about twice that amount!

We were the first people to drive into the park around 9:00 AM, the park's opening time.  We saw a few people on trail through the day, but not erribly many.  Mostly the sound of Highway 101 was the reminder about being close to civilization.

The hike out is all uphill.  But thanks to switchbacks none of the segments are particularly daunting.  One's trading distance for slope and it works out well here to keep you going without tiring you out too much.

At multiple points along the trail the tree canopy opens up, providing great views over the Petaluma River and the Petaluma Marsh Wildlife Area.

At the turnaround point the parks abuts Mt. Burdell Open Space Preserve.  We found a nice picnic bench in the shade and enjoyed our snacks while we surveyed Sonoma, Napa, Solano and Contra Costa Counties and probably some more.  In the distance Mount Diablo could be easily seen.

On our way back down we investigated a trail not on the official map but seemed well used.  A sign at the start said "Not a Through Trail", which didn't sound like trail closed or keep out.  In the end it was a bit of a dud and merely lead to the Mt. Burdell OSP as well.

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