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A 10-foot-tall map of decades-old Mill Valley hiking... (Courtesy Mill Valley Historical Society)

A 10-foot-tall map of decades-old Mill Valley hiking trails torn off the side of a building will be considered for installation in Old Mill Park.

The map, painted in shades of green, adorned a wall of the former Old Mill Market at the corner of Throckmorton and Old Mill avenues, across from the park. The Mill Valley Historical Society proposes to install it in the park, and story poles are in place there to give an idea of its size. The issue will be taken up at the Feb. 4 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.

"It was a local grocery store, and hikers would go to get supplies and ask, 'How do I get to the top of Mount Tamalpais?' and the like," said Mill Valley Parks Supervisor Brandon Stewart. "So the proprietor painted a trail map on the side of the building to answer their questions."

The map, which is about 15 feet wide and 10 feet tall, would have a small roof over it, and would be placed near the toddler swings just east of Cascade Drive in the park, according to Denise Andrews, the operations superintendent of the city's Department of Public Works.

The map sets forth informal hiking trails that existed in 1949, Andrews said. Interpretive text would be included in the exhibit to explain that the trails depicted are not current.

"It's a historical map of what used to be here, but it's no longer the same trail system," Stewart said.

The story of how the map was saved sounds like a plotline out of a Nancy Drew detective novel.


"They painted the map on the side of the grocery store and at some point it was shingled over," said Bill Stock, president of the board of directors of the Mill Valley Historical Society.

"And so it was in situ for decades but covered by shingles," Stock said. When the building was demolished in 2009 to make way for a townhouse project, "they pulled the siding off and revealed the map. One of our members had the foresight to say, 'We'll take that,' and tore it off the building." After years of deliberation, the present plan was hatched.

The map is painted on a series of planks, and is officially known as the Old Mill Market Hikers' Trail Map, said Jill Benton-Tardy, a board member of the Mill Valley Historical Society. Benton-Tardy, a Sausalito architect, is managing the project.

"The society is running a fundraising campaign to support the installation of the map," Benton-Tardy said. "It's going to cost about $20,000." The board member said if the installation is passed by the commission, it would be a matter of months before it would go in.

Andrews said she hoped people would drop by the park and look at the story poles, which give an idea of how much space the installation will take up.

"It is really important that people have input into this and any project that comes before the commission," Andrews said.

Attendance at the upcoming February meeting is also encouraged.

"If you are leaving downtown Mill Valley and heading toward the Dipsea stairs, a very popular hiking and running route, it's (the proposed site) right there," Stock said. "It's a great location. It will be iconic."

Mill Valley Parks and Recreation Commission meeting

Date: Feb. 4

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: City Hall, 26 Corte Madera, Mill Valley

Subject: Consideration of a historic trail map installation at Old Mill Park