About 100 hikers trod the trails of the open space behind Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, May 13, enjoying access to a little-visited corner of the county – one with spectacle views of Carneros, the wetlands, the San Pablo Bay and the San Francisco skyline.

But it wasn’t just a walk: it was a fundraiser for the Overlook Trail, currently in need of trail restoration to repair the damage that 55,000 hikers have done to the 17-year-old trail. “It was our biggest fundraiser hike ever,” said Joanna Kemper, co-chair of Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards.

About $4,500 was raised over the weekend for the trail restoration, but hikers who paid $50 each for the five- or three-mile trek got something tangible out of their support – “Beautiful day, beautiful people, beautiful cause!” as Kemper enthused. That, plus a catered lunch of fruit, wraps, salad and cookies from Levy Restaurants at the end of the trail, and a choice of lemonade or wines from Bedrock Wine.

“We were fortunate to have such a sparkling clear day and we’re grateful for all who participated,” said Steve Page, general manager of the Raceway who led the longer, five-mile loop hike. Both groups had encounters with the “Wooly Weeders,” sheep herds contracted to clear the 900-acre open space of invasion growth and other rampant vegetation.

This marks the second year that the Sonoma Raceway has permitted a hike on its open space private property, between Highway 121 and the new Tolay Regional Park.

The restoration project at Overlook Trail will take 10 to 12 weeks and begin sometime this fall. Among the plans are a rehabilitated trail entrance, rerouting of portions of the trail to avoid disruption of storm runoff, and soil and plant restoration. For more information, visit overlookmontini.org.