This route gives hiker various terrains and environments with which to explore the Phoenix Lake basin in Ross. There are redwoods, oaks, meadows, lakes, views, and creeks with a nice format of incline-decline-flow-incline-decline to really get a full workout in. There is a nice warm-up/cool-down built into the hike if you start at the Natalie Coffin-Greene Park (Phoenix Lake Park). Beware that on weekends parking at the park can be tricky.
Parking can be really tough in the park. If you can't park there, park down in the town of Ross, which will add some distance to your trip.
From Natalie Coffin-Greene Park, hike up the fire road to the ranger's house. Head right and follow the road, make another right past the water fountain and into the trees. At the top of the rise, bear left onto the singletrack (Yolanda Cutoff
). You'll climb and end up in an oak grove at the top.
Head down the hill where you'll continue straight at the fork onto the Yolanda Trail
. This trail will climb gradually and skirt the edge of the ridge, providing great views of Mt. Tamalpais if you look behind you. Yolanda Trail
will start to descend and you'll come to Five Corners.
Here, you'll take the left-most trail, the Hidden Meadow Trail
, and head through grassy meadows. Look for the swing on an oak tree down the ravine on the left as you start to descend. At the bottom of Hidden Meadow Trail
, you'll come across the trail's namesake meadow which is a great opportunity to lengthen your stride and pick up some speed.
You'll come out onto Shaver Grade Road, which is a gradually descending fire road that takes you back towards Phoenix Lake. You'll pass an intersection with Fish Grade and Eldridge Grade, then start watching on the right for a small trail that will take you around the southwest side of Phoenix Lake: the Gertrude-Ord Trail
Take the Gertrude-Ord Trail
, following along the edge of Phoenix Lake. There are nice oaks, some cattails, and a few creeks along the way. You'll descend some stairs and come to the intersection with the end of the Bill Williams Road. Turn right and continue up into the trees away from the lake. The Bill Williams Trail
is gorgeous as it follows along the creek and below towering redwood.
At the top of the watershed, you'll come to two bridges, which you'll cross and head back down the other side of the creek. There is some good climbing on the stairs leading away from the two bridges before you begin a gradual descent on the Tucker Trail
through the oaks and redwoods.
You'll end up back on the Bill Williams Road on the edge of the lake, which you'll turn right onto. This road takes you across the dam and back to the start of the hike. Cool down with a hike down the fire road back to the parking lot.