Enchanted Forest

Devil’s Gulch in Samuel P. Taylor State Park is one of our favorite hikes. There’s something magical about strolling along this shady, riparian trail under majestic redwoods, oaks and bay laurels along a burbling creek. And no trip out here is the same as the last; each offers a mini voyage of discovery. Depending on season, weather and luck, we’ve encountered a variety of wildflowers, mushrooms, butterflies, damsel flies, blue belly lizards, coho salmon, steelhead trout, salamanders and crawfish.

Lagunitas Creek

The first part of the hike is paved and runs along the creek, which provides a watershed for steelhead trout and coho salmon.

An abundance of wild forget-me-nots, great hedge nettles, western starflowers and miner’s lettuce line the edge of the trail.

Crimson Columbine

But the star of this trip was the crimson columbine. A few of these these lovely flowers were nodding in the sunshine leading up to the gargantuan redwood tree with a tunnel through its trunk.

King of the Forest

From the bridge (incidentally, also an excellent spot for a game of poohsticks), we noticed that even more crimson columbine plants dotted the banks of the creek. The flowers are said to be edible with a sweet taste, but as the seeds can be fatal, we passed on taking a chew.

Who’s been spitting on these plants?

It was also high spittlebug season and these “spit bubbles” were everywhere, on stalks, leaves and stems. While gross, these bubbles do little harm to plants, and protect tiny spittlebug nymphs inside. Talk about tragic back stories (“I grew up in a house made of spit”). Top that, Deadpool.


A spillway creates deep pools for steelhead trout and salmon.


Sadly, we missed mushroom season this year, so all we saw on this trip were polypores and a few little brown mushrooms.


Bright brodiaeas provided a splash of color a little way off the trail. Our hike was soon cut short after passing a grove of eucalyptus trees, where fallen trees and branches thwarted the way forward.

While a somewhat abbreviated walk this time round, we know we’ll be back to the Enchanted Forest. Because sometimes, if you’re very still, you can *almost* hear fairies laughing.


  • Location: Devil’s Gulch in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Lagunitas
  • Directions: The park is 15 miles west of San Rafael on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Devil’s Gulch is 1 mile west of Camp Taylor. Park in the large pull-out before walking across the street to trailhead.  
  • Level: Easy
  • Attractions: Creek, salmon spawning, wildflowers in spring, mushrooms in winter

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