DIY, Life

Explore the Secret Rock Path of Mill Valley, California

Sometimes human beings are wonderful and weird, and the Secret Rock Path in Mill Valley is evidence of that. It began some months ago, during the shelter in place order of spring 2020, and has blossomed into an exhibit of artistic expression and the good vibes we Californians are known for.

The path (officially known as Catalpa Lane) cuts through the middle of a block in our neighborhood and is part of the Steps, Lanes, and Paths of Mill Valley. It’s not very long — really just one block with a little footbridge over a stream in the middle.

Catalpa Lane in Mill Valley
Rock painted with Mount Tamalpais

As you can see, there is a lot of range of artistic ability. The only requirements are number one, keep it positive! and two, use waterproof paint. Number two is unstated but implied by the venue unless you want your painting to be short-lived or some kind of installation piece about ephemerality (you do you).

It started, as these things do, with just a few rocks, propped along the fence rail. Gradually, it grew and grew, and the rocks continue to arrive at the Secret Rock Path, some with seasonal messages of good wishes. It reminds me a little of the yarn bombings that have been all the rage, but a lot more accessible and inclusive.

I’m sure that this began with one person or one family, but we knew as soon as it started that it would take off. I think it’s a lovely reminder of how small actions can ripple out into a community, and the joy that comes from making as a group. The whole is greater than the parts because each part is individual and personal. Kudos to the folks who started it.

If you live in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the Secret Rock Path in Mill Valley. This is just a small selection of what is on display. As the sign says, feel free to come with your own rock(s) to add. There is plenty of gallery space available, and more is definitely more in this case.

If you don’t live close by, maybe start your own Secret Rock Path in your neighborhood. I love the idea of rocks getting covered by snow this winter and emerging next spring. I mean that won’t happen here, but maybe it could happen somewhere…


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