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Moonlighting in Marin.

Moonlighting in Marin

Marin County, so delightful by day, canbe just as appealing--and far less crowded --on a dark winter evening. Here, a few miles north of San Francisco, you can join night hikes across empty parklands, stargazing parties on Mount Tamalpais, and full-moon paddles on Richardson Bay.

Winter weather is changeable, and windscan be penetrating, so bring warm clothing and rain gear (some tours will go in showers), as well as snacks and warm drinks. A flashlight is handy if moonbeams aren't enough to light your way.

Except where noted, trips are open to allages. Call well ahead of scheduled date for details and to make reservations.

Free stargazing parties. These are held onthe new moon Saturday of each month at Rock Springs trailhead in Mount Tamalpais State Park. The Orion nebula is visible this month; you'll also see star clusters, planets, galaxies, and stars-- captured by a variety of reflector telescopes equipped with up to 18-inch mirrors. You meet at Tamalpais Valley Junction and drive as a group to the site, which is normally closed after sunset.

Write or call the San Francisco AmateurAstronomers, Morrison Planetarium, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco 94118, (415) 848-7322; or the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers, 1600 Baker St., San Francisco 94115, 567-2063.

Astronomer-led night hikes. Meet atBootjack Camp in Mount Tamalpais State Park for a 2-mile hike to a telescope. Stops along the way include a slide presentation at the Mountain Theater-- an outdoor amphitheater. At the telescope site, you learn about stars, identify constellations, view the Milky Way. The hikes are offered by Marin Discoveries, 11 First St., Corte Madera 94925; 927-0410. Times and dates are 4:30 to 8:30 January 24, 5 to 9 February 21, and 5:30 to 9:30 March 21. Fee: $9.

Paddle by moonlight. At twilight, yourgroup launches sleek kayaks from a beach near Sausalito's houseboat community for a 2- to 3-hour moonlight paddle on Richardson Bay. Fee is $20 (kayak provided). Minimum age is 16. A beginning lesson ($35) or equivalent experience is required. This month's tour date is February 14. Write to Sea Trek, Schoonmaker Point, Sausalito 94965, or call 332-4457.

Twilight and full-moon lighthouse tours.Docents lead twilight walks to Point Bonita Lighthouse starting at 4 P.M. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month (no reservations needed). On February 13, there's also a moonlight walk, by reservation, to the lighthouse. Starting in March, ranger-led twilight walks take you along a bluff-top trail, with stories of shipwrecks and sounds of crashing waves as accompaniment; call for schedule.

All these outings are free. Write to GoldenGate National Recreation Area, Marin Headlands District, Building 1050, Fort Cronkhite 94965, or call 331-1540.

Hoot for owls; see Muir Woods at night.Marin Discoveries offers the following tours for ages 8 and up:

Bolinas Ridge Moonlight Walk. On this5-mile hike near Bolinas Lagoon, you might see owls, deer, and possibly fox and bobcat. Time: 7 to 10:30 on March 11. Fee: $9.

Mount Tamalpais Owl Night Hike.Guided by an expert, you might see several types of owls and their prey. Times: 6 to midnight on March 28 and April 11. Fee: $12.

Muir Woods by Moonlight. Moonbeamslight your way through the night-quiet redwood groves of this national monument. A naturalist talks about area wildlife and hoots for owls. Times: 6:30 to 10 on February 7 and March 7. Fee: $9.

Ring Mountain Preserve MoonlightWalk. A naturalist guides you on a 4-mile walk through the grassy hills of the Tiburon Peninsula. He'll identify rare and native plants and discuss Indian myths. Time: 6 to 10 on February 11. Fee: $9.

For reservations, write to Marin Discoveries,11 First St., Corte Madera 94925, or call 927-0410.

Free ranger-led moonlight walks. InMount Tamalpais State Park, starting in late April or May, rangers will lead night hikes once a week and at full moon. Outings start from the Pantoll Ranger Station and include a campfire program at Mountain Theater. For dates, write to Marin District State Parks, 1455A E. Francisco Blvd., San Rafael 94901, or call 388-2070.

At Point Reyes National Seashore, rangerswill lead moonlight walks to Mount Wittenberg and evening canoeing and beach campfire programs at Abbotts Lagoon beginning this spring. Write or call Bear Valley Visitor Center, Point Reyes 94956; 663-1092.

Photo: Young stargazer peeks into eyepieceof large reflector telescope during monthly astronomy meet on Mount Tam

Photo: Full-moon paddlers enjoy night views and calm water on Richardson Bay. Bright lights on bow are flashlights strapped on as temporary running lights

Photo: Setting sun silhouettes lighthouse visitors on docent-guided twilight tour
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Title Annotation:Marine County, California
Date:Feb 1, 1987
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