Salmon on the Rebound

See Salmon Spawning at Lagunitas Creek Near Samuel P. Taylor State Park

The return of salmon to Marin County creeks is one of nature’s most intriguing seasonal events, an inspiring sight to behold; but it takes patience, laser focus, and the help of fellow hikers also on the lookout for this special show, happening now! Just east of Samuel P. Taylor State Park is the rippling Lagunitas Creek and Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area, one of the premier spots for spying the salmon.

During the spawning season of October through April (with a peak in December and January) coho salmon return to Lagunitas Creek from the Pacific to complete their three-year lifecycle. Female salmon splash their tails to build a nest, or redd, in the creek bed. They may appear to be flopping sideways and fluttering about in the water over rocks. After they lay their eggs, males rush in to fertilize them. The females stick around for a few weeks to guard their nests, but both the females and males die after spawning.

So where can you currently see them?

Take a short stroll along the wide and tranquil trail. The shallow waters upstream from the fish viewing area is one of your best bets to see these determined fish. They can be hard to spot as their color turns gray or olive.

Our team has been going for years, without luck spying any salmon ... until last weekend, where several salmon sightings occurred at this location. Tip: talk to other hikers to help each other sight the salmon. Just be sure to stay a respectful distance and use a camera zoom ... the salmon prefer privacy from hiker-paparazzi.

Another option for potential sightings is at Devil's Gulch Trail in Samuel P. Taylor State Park Bonus: Here you can carry onward for a peak-bagging adventure to the park's beautiful Barnabe Peak.

Parking at Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area is very tough to come by due to the popularity of this trail right now. Arrive early or late day, or be prepared to wait in a car line at the lot ... it usually isn't too long before a car leaves. The car pull-out area for Devil's Gulch at Samuel P. Taylor State Park also fills up fast and there's no place to wait in line on the road, so you'll need a very early start or a parking four-leaf clover. The main trail at the Leo T. Cronin fish viewing area is dog-friendly (keep them on a leash). No dogs on the hiking trails at Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. From Town to Falls

    Mount Tam’s Cascade Falls is a bit under the radar, tucked back off a residential area in Mill Valley. Some people drive up to the tiny parking lot nearest to the falls. Do an easy 3-mile (round-trip) hike right from downtown Mill Valley, weaving through quiet streets and secret trails.

    View
  2. The Carson Show

    Carson Falls is ready for primetime. This three-tiered, 100-foot stunner is hidden back in a canyon outside of Fairfax and reached on a 3.25-mile (round-trip) hike.

    View
  3. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park waterfall hike in Sonoma Valley

    Sweet as Sugarloaf

    Right in the heart of wine country there’s plenty more than wine flowing right now, with an oft unheralded waterfall that surges to an exuberant spectacle from all the recent rain.

    View
  4. Sponsored

    Sonoma Valley's 100 Days of Winter Wellness Guide

    This winter wellness plan goes to 100! Nurture yourself in 2024 with Sonoma Valley’s 100 Days of Winter Wellness guide. It’s a perfectly curated array of inspiration and ideas.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. A woman stands at Dante's View in Death Valley, looking out to Telescope Peak and Manly Lake, Badwater Basin below.

    Sunset Hike (and Manly Lake Vista!) at Dante's View

    It’s one of the world’s best places to watch a sunset. Dante’s View is a 5,476-foot vantage of the whole southern basin of Death Valley from the top of the Black Mountains. On clear days you get views of both the highest and lowest points in the contiguous U.S. 

    View
  2. Skull On!

    Temescal Canyon not only has epic views, it's got a waterfall right now, one that only shows after big rains. Head out on this 4.6-mile loop.

    View
  3. Woman hiking on the trail at Trebek Open Space in Los Angeles County

    Trebek Open Space

    While most hikers head over to adjacent Runyon Canyon, instead do the 2-mile hike at Trebek Open Space and pay your respects to the legendary Jeopardy host and philanthropist, Alex Trebek.

    View
  4. Woman on Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes at Death Valley National Park

    Starry Night & Dark Sky Adventures

    You don’t have to stay out all that late to experience eminent stargazing at Death Valley National Park. The park's been given the highest ranking of darkness by the International Dark-Sky Association. Here are a trio of amazing ways to witness the mesmerizing night sky at Death Valley:

    View