Top Bay Area Hikes: St. Hilary Church
Try the St. Hilary Church hike at the Old Saint Hilary’s Open Space Preserve in Tiburon.
Old St. Hilary’s Open Space Preserve is a 122 acre Marin County Park that overlooks the Bay with spectacular panoramic views of all three bridges – The Golden Gate Bridge, the Richmond Bridge, and the Bay Bridge.
It’s just over one mile, and easy enough for the whole family to walk, which makes it a top Bay Area hike.
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Know before you go
How to get there
To access the Heathcliff Fire Road trail head, put Old Saint Hilary’s Open Space Nature Preserve into your GPS.
- From Hwy 101 in Mill Valley, take the exit for Tiburon Blvd (Hwy 131) east 3.5 miles.
- Turn left onto Lyford Dr, right onto Vistazo West St, and follow to the end (dead end).
- Drive through the gorgeous Tiburon neighborhood to Vistazo St., West Belvedere.
- Find parking on the street very close to the trail. You’ll be parking in front of homes, so be mindful and respectful of the lucky people who live in the neighborhood.
- The Heathcliff Fire Road trail, or the northern part of the preserve, is accessed from Vistazo St.
- From the Heathcliff Fire Road trail, as a hiker, you can descend to the southern part of the preserve, the Vistazo Fire Road trail, which will lead you to the church parking area.
- Prepare for wind! Bring layers!
- No need for hiking boots, sneakers will do.
- Always bring water, and if you get lost up there, don’t panic!
- Your cell phone should work and the area is contained enough to find your way back to the car.
- There are no public restrooms on the Preserve.
The Miwok tribes transferred the land to a Mexican land grant, which was then purchased by an immigrant from Ireland, who later married the daughter of the Mexican commander of the Presidio.
Then they had a daughter who married a Canadian. That couple allowed the archdiocese of San Francisco to build a church on their property. And all this happened before 1888!
Later, in the 1960’s the people of Belvedere and Tiburon formed a trust to protect the church and its surroundings. Because of them, it’s now a well taken care of spot for everyone to enjoy.
We always add a little bonus to this hike by stopping at our favorite juicer, Sun Life Organics in the Larkspur Landing, Marin Country, shopping area. If you’ve never had a Sun Life Mint Chocolate Chip smoothie, can you even say you have lived?