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Sonoma County hikes worth the drive

A guide to Sonoma County parks where you can socially distance and enjoy the great outdoors|
Seth, Kristen and Temesgen Schwebs and Steven Johansen hike along a trail overlooking Santa Rosa at the Taylor Mountain Open Space in Santa Rosa in 2013. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)
Seth, Kristen and Temesgen Schwebs and Steven Johansen hike along a trail overlooking Santa Rosa at the Taylor Mountain Open Space in Santa Rosa in 2013. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve

South entrance: 3820 Petaluma Hill Road, Santa Rosa

North entrance: 2080 Kawana Terrace, Santa Rosa

Currently open at this park:

All trails

Currently closed at this park:

No restrictions

Taylor Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve is a prominent landmark in southeast Santa Rosa and offers panoramic views of the city from trails that climb to the summit. The 1,100-acre park features grassy hillsides, oak woodlands and several creeks that all provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. The park currently offers 5.5 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding and an 18-hole disc golf course. Two routes — the eastern and western routes — lead to the mountain's mid-section, with the Eastern Route continuing on to the summit for a 1,100-foot elevation gain. The Todd Creek and Red Hill trails offer less-strenuous hikes through lovely oak woodlands. Of note: In keeping with the site’s agricultural history and resource management goals, cattle grazing continues at Taylor Mountain.

The Tolay Lake Regional Park near Petaluma. File Photo. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013
The Tolay Lake Regional Park near Petaluma. File Photo. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Tolay Lake Regional Park

5869 Cannon Lane, Petaluma

Currently open at this park:

All trails

Currently closed at this park:

No restrictions

Just 8 miles from downtown Petaluma, find the largest of Sonoma County’s regional parks. Tolay Lake Regional Park comprises some 3,400 acres and is named for the seasonal lake that forms in the valley between its hillsides. Offering 11 miles of trails across mostly grasslands, visitors can be on the lookout for a variety of wildlife including bald eagles, burrowing owls and other birds of prey. The park is open daily and offers trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding and is typically the site of the annual Tolay Fall Festival each October.

Lilly Widick, 9, tosses her reluctant poodle, Lady, into the swimming lagoon at Spring Lake Regional Park during the Water Bark event on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012.
Lilly Widick, 9, tosses her reluctant poodle, Lady, into the swimming lagoon at Spring Lake Regional Park during the Water Bark event on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012.

Spring Lake Regional Park

391 Violetti Road, Santa Rosa

Currently open at this park:

Trails

Boating including rentals

Camping reopened July 1 but reservations are required for tents, trailers and RV campers

Currently closed at this park:

All first-come, first-served and same-day drop-in camping are not allowed at this time

The swimming lagoon

The Environmental Discovery Center

Otter Café

Group facilities

Spring Lake Regional Park in Santa Rosa is one of Sonoma County's most popular parks. The 320-acre park features camping, fishing, picnic areas with barbecues and five group picnic areas. Trails are available for walking, hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. The park includes a 3-acre swimming lagoon and a 72-acre lake as well as the cool Environmental Discovery Center at Spring Lake — a fantastic all-ages educational experience. For those interested in hiking, the park offers nearly 10 miles of trails and is a favorite destination in Sonoma County. Trails include an easy paved route around the lake as well as connections to Trione-Annadel State Park and the city of Santa Rosa's Howarth Park.

The flat coastal plain near Goat Rock is the former seabed, and the rock formations are sea stacks like the ones now standing in the surf offshore. The Kortum Trail winds past in Sonoma Coast State Park. (Stephen Nett / For The Press Democrat)
The flat coastal plain near Goat Rock is the former seabed, and the rock formations are sea stacks like the ones now standing in the surf offshore. The Kortum Trail winds past in Sonoma Coast State Park. (Stephen Nett / For The Press Democrat)

Sonoma Coast State Park

7095 Highway 1, Bodega Bay

Currently open at this park:

Trails

Day use areas

Beaches

Currently closed at this park:

Parking lots

Campgrounds

Picnic areas

Visitor center

No special events at this time

Formerly known as Sonoma Coast State Beach, and one of California’s most scenic attractions, the park is actually a series of beaches separated by rock bluffs and headlands that extend 17 miles from Bodega Head to Vista Trail located 4 miles north of Jenner. Defined by long sandy beaches below rugged headlands, a craggy coastline with natural arches and secluded coves, the beach was reclassified in 2007 to reflect the increasing diversity of resources encompassed by its expanding boundaries..

Currently, the park encompasses 17 miles of rugged coastline that stretch north from Bodega Head at the mouth of Bodega Bay to a few miles beyond Jenner, as well as the Pomo Canyon and Willow Creek environmental campgrounds, a few miles inland. Several shorter scenic hiking trails can be found at the extreme northern and southern extents of the park. These include Russian Gulch and the headland and bluff trails of North Jenner, in the north, and the Bodega Head and Horseshoe Cove Overlook trails in the south. Longer hikes include the 4-mile Kortum Trail from Blind Beach to Wright’s Beach and the 3.5-mile trail from Shell Beach to Pomo Canyon campground (or 7 miles to Duncans Mills through the Willow Creek addition). Of note: Dogs are not allowed on state beaches. Leashed dogs are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas and parking areas.

Sylvester, Janet Balicki's beagle, enjoys the view at Foothill Regional Park in Windsor. (Photo by Janet Balicki)
Sylvester, Janet Balicki's beagle, enjoys the view at Foothill Regional Park in Windsor. (Photo by Janet Balicki)

Foothill Regional Park

351 Arata Lane, Windsor

Of note: Dogs are allowed on leash. $7 parking fee or free for members

Currently open at this park:

Some trails

Currently closed at this park:

Trails in the fire zone remain closed

Foothill Regional Park burned in the Kincade fire of October 2019. The park has been partially reopened with access to approximately 5 miles of trails. Much of the park remains closed and also may close during periods of high winds or storm conditions. Overall, the park features thick oak woodlands, rolling hillsides, ridge-top views of northern Sonoma County, three ponds for bass and bluegill fishing, grassy meadows and spring wildflowers. All told, nearly 7 miles of multi-use trails cover varied terrain, offering easy to challenging options for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

The Peinkofer family of Marty, bottom and children Max, 10 and daughter Kate, 13, cruise the Laguna de Santa Rosa in 2014. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)
The Peinkofer family of Marty, bottom and children Max, 10 and daughter Kate, 13, cruise the Laguna de Santa Rosa in 2014. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

Laguna de Santa Rosa

6303 Highway 12, Santa Rosa

Currently open at this park:

All trails

Currently closed at this park:

No restrictions

Laguna de Santa Rosa comprises a 1.8-mile multi-use trail where visitors can experience some of the biologically diverse landscape of Sonoma County’s largest freshwater wetland. Traversing mostly grasslands dotted with oaks and eucalyptus, visitors can enjoy distant views of Mount Saint Helena and nearby vineyards. Great for bird-watching, the trail loops around Kelly Pond, and hikers can add the 0.6 pedestrian-only segment which connects to Sebastopol’s Laguna de Santa Rosa Wetland Preserve Trail. Of note: Dogs are not allowed on the pedestrian-only trail segment.

A rider and her horse take a fork in the path at Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa in 2011. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011
A rider and her horse take a fork in the path at Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa in 2011. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

Annadel State Park

6201 Channel Drive, Santa Rosa

Currently open at this park:

Limited parking is now available to the public

All trails

A chemical toilet is available at the W. Richardson parking lot

Currently closed at this park:

Visitor Center restroom

Beloved Annadel has been a hiking and biking magnet for years. Shut down until just recently, this 5,200-acre park offers more than 40 miles of interconnected trails, including an 8½-mile section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. Great views of the Santa Rosa plain and the Sonoma Valley and direct access to the adjacent Spring Lake Regional Park and Howarth Park. Camping is not allowed in the park, but fishing is at the 26-acre Lake Ilsanjo. Enjoy birding at Ledson Marsh, where 130 different bird species live or visit seasonally. Of note: Due to limited parking, walking and biking to the park is recommended.

Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve (The Press Democrat)
Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve (The Press Democrat)

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

17000 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville

Currently open at this park:

Armstrong Redwoods State Park is now open to vehicular access and parking

Please where a mask when walking or hiking

Currently closed at this park:

Campgrounds

High public-use indoor facilities including museums and visitor centers

Special events and tours are canceled until further notice

The magnificent coast redwood, or Sequoia sempervirens, is preserved in all its glory in Armstrong Woods. The Grove is a living reminder of the primeval redwood forest that covered much of our area before logging operations began in the 19th century. Today, the trees stand together as a testament to the wonders of the natural world and one that shouldn’t be missed. The reserve includes a visitor center, self-guided nature walks and a variety of picnic facilities. Note that actual hiking is limited but strolling the reserve is a treat. And while you can drive into the park, the best way to experience the dramatic effect of the towering redwoods is to leave your vehicle in the lot at the park entrance and walk in for free. Donations are accepted at the Visitor Center and all of the main park features can be found along the Pioneer Nature Trail — a 1½-mile round trip that is ADA accessible and mostly level and flat. Of note: See the website for admission fees.

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