Rancho Mark West

With accessible pathways and proximity to Santa Rosa, Rancho Mark West is our outdoor classroom, community hub, and wild place of refuge in the Mayacamas Mountains. 

Send your kids to our old-fashioned, nature-based camp on the historic 120-acre property. Take a dip in a spring-fed pond. Marvel at steelhead trout in the pristine headwaters of Mark West Creek. Walk miles through awe-inspiring forests of mature redwood, madrones, and Douglas fir. Immerse in the oak woodlands. Learn about drought resilience from our model rainwater harvesting system. Gather with friends old and new for a barn concert or holiday gathering. Steward the organic garden and the trails that wind through diverse habitats.

How to Get Involved 

You are warmly invited to join LandPaths at Rancho Mark West. The property currently hosts hundreds of children a year through Owl Camp and IOOBY

  • Join us for a seasonal or holiday gathering.
  • Register for a public outing on the land.
  • Volunteer to do stewardship in the organic garden or on the land. 
  • Become an Owl Camp or IOOBY volunteer.
  • Join Rancho Aficionados Inspired by Nature (RAIN)-a value-exchange permit program where volunteers exchange community service for access to the land on their own time. 

History

Rancho Mark West is located on the homeland of the Southern Pomo, who named the creek “Potiquiyome.” The Pomo people lived interconnected with the plant and animal life in the bioregion. 

In 1890 the Spanish Governor of California granted 6,660 acres along the creek to Mark West. Taking advantage of abundant water and fertile soil, the Wests established a rancho, growing wheat, barley, corn, and beans. They also built a grist mill and raised cattle. 

Jim and Betty Doerksen purchased Rancho Mark West in 1983. The Doerksens have worked tirelessly, planting upwards of “one million trees,” according to Jim. They also started the Doerksen Christmas Tree Farm – once a favorite holiday tradition for many families throughout the Bay Area. 

In 1998, Jim and Betty graciously opened up the land to LandPaths, and other environmental and school groups. ”We never charged anyone a dime,” says Jim. 

LandPaths, with generous assistance from the California Coastal Conservancy, purchased Rancho Mark West in 2011. Under the purchase terms, Jim and Betty Doerkson, have a reserved life estate on the property. LandPaths and the Doerksens participate in this land ownership partnership as a way to love the land and engage the public forever, especially local children, through outings and outdoor education.  

Questions about Rancho Mark West? 

Emmett Hopkins
Community Care Manager
707. 544.7284 x  114
emmett@landpaths.org

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