Hiking in Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve/Austin Creek State Recreation Area
(Karen Collins, once a "city girl," prefers the ambiance of small town life and enjoys the many and varied recreational opportunities surrounding the Sonoma Valley. An avid hiker, she has led walking tours in North and South America, Europe, Asia and New Zealand. She was formerly a Deputy Director of the California State Parks, chair of the California State Trails Commission and a co-founder of the Sonoma Overlook Trail. Karen currently chairs the Sonoma County Parks Commission and serves on the board of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Her articles on outdoor adventures have been published in many newspapers and magazines throughout the country.)
Memorable hiking spots can be found in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties. It’s a fact that we who live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area have more open space at our disposal…literally at our feet…than any other metropolitan area in the country. Best of all, we don’t have to wait for weeks to get a reservation.Here's one located less than an hour's drive west of Sonoma near the Russian River:
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve/Austin Creek State Recreation Area
Trails through the nearly 5,000 acres in these adjacent parks pass through magnificent groves of ancient redwoods containing some of the world’s tallest and oldest trees. For example, the Parson Jones tree, the tallest tree in the grove, measures 310 feet (longer than the length of a football field) and the Colonel Armstrong tree, the grove’s oldest, is thought to be over 1,400 years old.
The 20-plus miles of hiking trails through Austin Creek, however, are much more rugged, rising from 150 feet above sea level to over 1,900 feet at the top of McCray Mountain. Along the way are numerous spots to picnic, but my favorite place is in the campground overlooking Bullfrog Pond. The Pool Ridge-East Ridge Trails loop offers wondrous views over the vineyards of the Russian River Valley.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve/Austin Creek State Recreation Area is located at 17000 Armstrong Woods Road, 1.5 miles north of Guerneville. Phone: (707) 869-2015.