Visiting Watershed Lands
Visiting Watershed Lands
"The Mt. Tamalpais Watershed … is held in trust as a natural wildland of great biological diversity, as scenic open space and as an area for passive outdoor recreation for Marin and much of the Bay Area. Passive outdoor recreation is defined as those activities that are based on nature and that require little or no development or facilities.” (Marin Municipal Water District's Mt. Tamalpais Watershed Management Policy).
Sky Oaks Watershed Headquarters is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The watershed is open to the public for recreational use daily from sunrise to sunset.
During extreme fire weather conditions, such as Red Flag Warnings, and other emergencies, vehicle access is prohibited into Bon Tempe and Lagunitas Lakes (at Sky Oaks Watershed Headquarters) and to Natalie Coffin Greene Park (Phoenix Lake). For the most current information regarding land closures during fire season please call the Marin County Fire Department’s Public Information Line at 415-499-7191 or MMWD's Sky Oaks Watershed Headquarters at 415-945-1195.
Hikers may choose from 130 miles of trails and unpaved roads, many of which connect with adjacent national and state parks and county open space district lands. To minimize human disturbance to sensitive habitat and to protect listed and endangered species that inhabit district land please stay on authorized routes (link to maps).
To protect our natural resources and to ensure a pleasant watershed experience for our visitors we ask that for all canine companions, “love ‘em and leash ‘em”. Dogs are permitted on district lands only when restrained by a leash and under the control of the owner. Aggressive canines have been known to intimidate wildlife, endanger newborn deer, disturb aquatic habitat and disrupt the tranquility of other watershed visitors. Most of the MMWD Mt. Tamalpais Watershed is within the boundary of the Mt. Tamalpais State Game Refuge and is governed by California Department of Fish and Wildlife and MMWD rules and regulations. The main purpose of the refuge system is to ensure survival of wildlife by providing suitable cover, food and protection for fish and wildlife from humans.
Bicyclists can travel some 73 miles of unpaved roads but are prohibited from riding or possessing a bike on single-track hiking and equestrian trails. Because of the potential for visitor conflict and related safety concerns the district has established a maximum speed limit of 15 MPH for bicycles. In addition, district regulations stipulate that bicyclists are to slow to 5 MPH when passing others or when in blind turns.
Horses are allowed on unpaved roads and some designated trails. Horses may not enter streams and reservoirs, travel cross-country or graze on watershed lands.
MMWD's Lake Lagunitas Picnic Area is a lovely spot for a picnic, potluck or cookout. You'll find picnic tables and barbecues in a grove of redwoods, skirted by a creek on one side and sandwiched between Lagunitas and Bon Tempe lakes.
The picnic area features a rustic shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps--a Depression-era public work program--in 1936. Lagunitas's wooden spillway is nearby, along with the remnants of three fish rearing ponds used to raise steelhead trout up until World War II.
The picnic area is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Please note that open flames are restricted to facilities provided by the district. You can reserve the picnic shelter for $75 or the group picnic site for $125 by calling (415) 945-1180. No reservations are necessary for individuals and families, although there is a watershed entry fee of $8 per vehicle. Annual vehicle passes are available; find more information on our Parking Passes page
The district also
has more remote, undeveloped picnic sites to enjoy. To locate them, go to our maps page.
Fishing is allowed at all seven of the district reservoirs and is regulated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fishing licenses are required for anyone 16 years of age and older.
For a recorded message with the most current fishing information, please call (415) 945-1194.
You can also call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) fish planting schedule phone line at (707) 944-5581, or visit their website at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants/
Lagunitas Creek between Alpine and Kent Lake is open for fishing from the last Saturday in April through November 15. All other streams on MMWD lands are closed to all fishing all year.
Soulajule Reservoir, located in West Marin, is open to the public seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. Fishing is allowed year round and is regulated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fishing licenses are required for anyone16 years of age and older. For a recorded message with the most current fishing information, please call (415) 945-1194. Neither boating nor swimming are allowed. Pets are allowed on leash. There is not an established hiking trail around the reservoir, so hiking is not recommended. Click here for directions to Soulajule Reservoir.
Safe Eating Guidelines
The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the State Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has issued Safe Eating Guidelines for eating certain fish caught in three MMWD reservoirs:
Safe Eating Guidelines have not been issued for the other MMWD reservoirs.
For more details, please go to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHAA) Fish web page at http://www.oehha.ca.gov/fish.html.
Reservoir water quality information is also available from MMWD on our Water page.
Fish ViewingThe Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area, located along Lagunitas Creek in West Marin, is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most popular fish-viewing areas. It is open to the public daily sunrise to sunset. The best time to see spawning fish is mid-November through February.
When visiting the site, please remain behind the fence, minimize noise and avoid sudden movements so that salmon may spawn here undisturbed. Catching or disturbing the fish during spawning season is prohibited by law. Dogs on leash are allowed on roads and trails but not in the creek. Parking is limited to one hour during fish viewing season.
The area is named after Leo T. Cronin, a member of the MMWD board of directors from 1991 until 1994. He was a leader in the movement to maintain and restore the fisheries of California and, in particular, Lagunitas Creek. He served as regional vice president of Trout Unlimited, was named Conservationist of the Year in 1979, and received the Distinguished Service Award in 1993.The fish viewing area was opened to the public and dedicated to Mr. Cronin in 1995 in his memory.
Each year, beginning in November, endangered coho salmon return to Lagunitas Creek from the ocean to spawn, or lay eggs. Threatened steelhead trout return to spawn starting in late December. The adult spawning runs coincide with the rainy season and continue for three to four months, sometimes longer. Lagunitas Creek is considered the home of one of the healthiest salmon populations in central California.
Mountain Lion Sightings
MMWD's watershed management staff occasionally receive reports of mountain lion sightings on Mt. Tamalpais Watershed lands. These sightings are not cause for alarm but the district recommends that visitors to public lands follow the mountain lion precautions provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.