The grand opening of San Anselmo’s Memorial Ridge Trail was Sept. 14, but I only got a chance to hike it recently. The trail is the result of several years of hard work by the San Anselmo Open Space Committee and San Anselmo Public Works, and was made possible by Side by Side and the Mount Tamalpais Cemetery granting easements. The San Anselmo Historical Commission has greatly enhanced the enjoyment of hikers with an interest in history with their informative signs.
The 1.2-mile trail starts behind the batting cage in Memorial Park, and immediately heads uphill with 28 steps. This is a mixed woodland with black oaks dropping their leaves, but many evergreen trees, including bays, coast live oaks and madrones providing shade.
Ignore two unmarked trails to the right and stay on the main trail, which soon passes through an area with invasive French broom (Genista monspessulana). Brought as a garden ornamental in the mid-1800s, it now infests about 100,000 acres, degrading habitat for native wildlife, causing digestive disorders in horses and paralysis in some livestock, and creating a fire risk. In its own habitat, it was royal. The Plantagenet kings, who ruled England and half of France in the 12th and 13th centuries, wore an emblem of the broom on their helmets. The family name Plantagenet comes from planta genista.