The hiking trails of Anderson Marsh Historic State Park near Northern California’s Clear Lake in Lake County offer rolling foothills, spring wildflowers, historic buildings, and views of surrounding mountains. Anderson Marsh State Historic Park is one of the gems of the California State Parks system, and it borders Cache Creek right where the stream begins its journey to the Sacramento River.
Anderson Marsh Hiking Trail Description
Length: 5 to 6.5 miles round-trip
Hiking time: 3 hours
High point: 1,500 feet
Total elevation gain: 300 feet
Water: bring your own
Maps: USGS 7.5′ Clear Lake, USGS 7.5′ Lower Lake
Information: Anderson Marsh State Historical Park
Visit oak woodlands before exploring a marsh shoreline that hosts a variety of birds. Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and be prepared for some mud along Anderson Marsh.
Anderson Marsh Historic State Park Driving Directions
From the junction of CA Highways 20 and 53 on Clear Lake’s east side, drive south 7 miles on Highway 53, turn right onto Anderson Ranch Parkway (0.7 mile north of Highway 29), and turn right again at the entrance to Anderson Marsh Historic State Park.
Hiking Trails Description
Pick up the trail by heading west across the field next to a chain-link fence. Go left at a trail junction at 0.4 mile and continue alongside another chain-link fence past the occasional valley oak.
The path gradually climbs a hill under the shade of blue oak and greenleaf manzanita to a signed trail junction at 0.9 mile, where you bear left. As you bisect the grassy meadow next to the marsh, watch for a herd of deer. Gray pines hug the foothill on the left, and cottonwood and willow surround the marsh on the right.
Without warning the trail becomes mucky and jungled, with 2-yard-high grasses, teasel, and sporadic patches of poison oak. Quite soon the marsh extends next to your feet near wood rose bushes. Pause quietly for a few moments and observe an impressive variety of waterbirds, including pelicans, green herons, and blue herons.
At 1.5 miles bear left onto the McVicar Trail. Although moist and clogged with weeds, it goes for 0.6 mile alongside the marsh, offering ample opportunity for further bird-watching.
When you’ve had enough of this path, retrace your steps and bear left at a rattlesnake sign onto the Marsh Trail, which allows you to explore the east side of Anderson Marsh.
Depart the blue oak belt after 0.4 mile and move slightly closer to the marsh and a tall stand of valley oak on the right. After another 0.2 mile, the trail abruptly departs the marsh and climbs 20 yards to another unsigned trail junction, where you head straight on the Ridge Trail toward a huge valley oak.
The trail soon heads south to a picnic table under a massive valley oak. Pause here to admire the moist lowlands to the northeast that stretch to the riparian habitat bordering Cache Creek. Turn left and follow the unsigned Anderson Flats Trail east through the oak-studded meadow for another 1 mile to the trailhead.
Anderson Marsh Historic State Park Trail Map
Note: the California State Parks page has a complete trail map for the entire park.