The first month of fall is a favorite time for many hikers, who can enjoy cooler days and changing colors even if the days are getting shorter. The upside of that are that the hikes can end with a sunset instead of a shower.
Here is a rundown of the hikes and similar activities in the Sonoma Valley for the first half of October.
The Regional Parks’ Hiking for Fitness program this summer was so successful, they’re bringing it back for an encore. The eight-week program is on successive Saturdays (Thanksgiving weekend excluded) from Oct. 7 to Dec. 2. Hikes will start at 9 a.m. at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park; program leaders will guide the series of weekly hikes with the challenge increasing each week, culminating in a climb to the top of Bald Mountain on Dec. 2.
First hike is from White Barn to Uranus (on the Planet Walk trail), 2.2 miles, 80-foot elevation gain. The hiking series costs $80 or free for hikers with a ParkRx from their Sonoma County Medical Provider. For more information on Park Rx visit ParkRx-sonomacounty.org.
Oct. 7 turns out to be a big day for Valley hikers. At 10 a.m. Melissa Roberts takes hikers to the rarely-visited McCormick Addition in a six-mile hike to the Grandmother Oak – the largest coast live oak in Sonoma County – and back, along steep trails with a water crossing. Meet at the Hood Mt. Regional Park Los Alamos parking lot; county parking fees apply. Bring lunch; $10 per person.
On the same day, a Full Moon hike is planned for Sugarloaf. Meet at the White Barn at 5 p.m. with a prompt departure at 5:15. Moonrise and sunset are about 7:00 pm. This strenuous hike will cover 6.5 miles with 1,500 plus of vertical gain, with some steep sections, to Bald Mountain with its spectacular view of moon and stars. Dress in layers as it can get cool at the summit. Make a reservation at brownpapertickets.com/event/3081891.
The next weekend, both Oct. 14 and 15, are opportunities to ride the Sugar-Hood Shuttle that makes possible a one-way hike from either Hood Mountain Regional Park or Sugarloaf Ridge State Park to the other. Simply park your car at the end-point of your hike, take the shuttle to the other park’s trailhead and hike 7.5 miles back to your car. The only way to avoid confusion is to try it: pick-ups at 9 and 11 a.m. at Sugarloaf and 10 a.m. and 12 noon at the Hood Mt. lot, at the end of Los Alamos Road. Contact John Roney at 833-5712 for reservations ($10 one-way) or online at brownpapertickets.com/event/2894210.
Also on Oct. 14, a two-hour Oak Woodland ecosystem hike begins at 9 a.m. from the Sugarloaf parking lot. Ten species of oak are found in Sonoma County, iconic trees and shrubs that provide critical habitat for many other plants and animals. At least five species may be seen on the hike, and we’ll discuss their value as habitat and food sources, and outline the many challenges they face in the future and what can be done to preserve them. Cost is $10 general, free for 18 or under; tickets at brownpapertickets.com/event/3081931.