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Bayside to creekside on Corte Madera's path.

False-front buildings running higgledy-piggledy toward San Francisco Bay, newly restored wetlands, and a wide, twisting feeder creek lure walkers along a paved bike-and-hike path in the Marin County town of Corte Madera.

Corte Madera Creek Path runs 2 miles roughly east to west from bayside to creekside, and links some longer walks which we describe. For a grand excursion, ride a ferry from San Francisco to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, near the start of the path, and have lunch or Sunday brunch before you head out.

From the terminal, it's a short walk east on the path (it parallels Sir Francis Drake Boulevard here) to Remillard Park, with views of windsurfers and docking ferries. The park's pond has been restored by the Marin Audubon chapter and is again home to turtles and ducks. You can circle the park on a dirt path, then head back the way you came, continuing past the ferry parking lot to the false-front buildings of the so-called antique mews. This alleyway houses several furniture and antiques shops in Old West style buildings (actually built in the 1960s by a nostalgic sculptor); they're open daily. Just west on the path is a trail junction. To the left lies Corte Madera State Ecological Reserve. This 125-acre salt marsh is a restoration success-hike its dike trails to see herons, egrets, perhaps the shy clapper rail. From the junction, go off the paved path and head left up the stairway to a sidewalk on the overpass; follow Paradise Drive south 1/2 mile to the reserve. For a 1-mile round trip, backtrack to the junction.

A second option stays on the paved path and takes you along Corte Madera Creek. From the junction, go right (curving generally west), winding under the tangle of freeway and out to the peace of the creek. Mount Tamalpais rises dead ahead, and a grassy creekside park beckons with picnic tables and benches. The path meanders with the creek, then ends at S. Eliseo Drive. Backtrack to return for a 2-mile round trip, or continue on sidewalks to the next section of paved pathway.

To continue, follow S. Eliseo Drive a mile to Bon Air Road and pick up the next section of paved pathway, which runs another 1 1/2 miles along the creek. It deadends near Ross Town Hall; backtrack for a 5-mile round trip.

If you want to start your outing on the Larkspur ferry and include lunch or brunch, allow for a 50-minute ride from San Francisco's Ferry Building. Weekend round-trip fare is $6, $4.50 ages 6 through 12, $3 seniors; a family fare allows two children under 13 to travel free with each full-fare adult. Ferries run five times daily on weekends. The first boat leaves San Francisco at 10:45 A.M.; the last return departs Larkspur at 5:45 Pm. Call (415) 332-6600 for full daily schedules and fares. Bicycles are allowed on the ferry at no cost.

A pedestrian overpass crosses from the Larkspur terminal to Larkspur Landing, with half a dozen restaurants-from a sushi house to a brew-pub. Try one for lunch, or try Sunday brunch (10 to 2) at the Lark Creek Inn, 234 Magnolia Avenue (chef Bradley Ogden is fresh from San Francisco's respected Campton Place); call 924-7766 for reservations. To get to the inn from Corte Madera Creek Path, walk along Bon Air Road (no bike lane) southwest to Magnolia, then four long blocks to the restaurant.

If you're driving, take the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard exit off U.S. Highway 101 and follow signs for the ferry. Plenty of parking spaces are available in the terminal's free lot, even on weekdays.
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Title Annotation:Walking for Your Life; Corte Madera Creek Path, California
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Previous Article:The steep walls and gentle trails of Eldorado Canyon.
Next Article:Rediscovering the heart of Golden Gate Park.

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