The Las Gallinas Salt Ponds and Salt Marsh are part of a wastewater reclamation project by the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District. The area is a multi-use water treatment facility, with reclaimed wetland areas attracting a large variety of bird and animal species.
From San Francisco:
- Take US 101 north across the Golden Gate Bridge
- In San Rafael, take Lucas Valley Road/Smith Ranch Road exit
- Drive east on Smith Ranch Rd for about 3/4 mile
- Cross railroad tracks, and just before McInnis Park entrance, turn left
- You'll pass athletic fields on the right, and farther down, the Las Gallinas sanitation plant
- Near the plant, you'll see signs pointing to the wildlife ponds
- There is a parking lot at the end of the road
From the parking lot, you'll see a dirt trail leading out toward the marshes and wildlife ponds. You can do a loop in either direction at the first pond.
The area has a series of trails that connect with the San Francisco Bay Trail -- a work-in-progress network of trails that circumnavigates the bay.
Click here for a trail map of the Marin section of the Bay Trail, including the Las Gallinas area.
An 81-kilowatt solar power system provides environmentally-friendly power to the Las Gallinas pump station. As you walk along the trails, you'll see large sections of blue solar panels in the fields to the north of the marshes and ponds.
Some of the species you'll see at Las Gallinas ponds and marsh:[/p}
Areas like Las Gallinas wildlife ponds are sensitive bird habitats. Harassing birds in any way violates the Migratory Bird Act and carries fines. Seeing amazing wildlife is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being out on the trails. Just be sure to be respectful of all birds and wildlife, give them plenty of space -- and use a long lens if you're photographing.