Printer Friendly

The wildflower parks of Sonoma Valley.

The wildflower parks of Sonoma Valley

Meadows bursting with color, days warming yet still free of summer's fog and heat--spring can be the best time to hike Sonoma Valley's sprawling parklands. Five parks maintain valuable open space in an increasingly developed valley.

April and May produce the greatest variety of wildflowers in the area; some 187 species can occur. Look for abundant goldfields, Indian paintbrush, iris, lupine, periwinkle, and owl's clover.

All five of the parks have easy to strenuous hiking, some with spectacular views. Carry water on hikes and watch for poison oak and the occasional rattlesnake.

Annadel State Park. From Santa Rosa, take State Highway 12 east a mile, then take Montgomery Drive east and follow signs. This 5,000-acre park has some 35 miles of trails; a 3-mile moderate hike up to small, bulrush-crowded Lake Ilsanjo is the park's most popular walk.

But for the best wildflowers, try the 2-mile (one-way) hike from the park office up North Burma Trail and onto Live Oak Trail, past a high meadow often dusted with goldfields. It's an easy walk, gaining about 500 feet in elevation. Listen for some of these woodpeckers needling the oaks: downy, pileated, or red-breasted sapsucker. The free-admission park has no campsites.

Spring Lake Regional Park, adjacent to Annadel, does have camping. This 320-acre park is busy, with 31 campsites ($11 per night, first-come basis) and 200 picnic tables. A 2-mile paved hiking and bicycling path rings the 72-acre lake (year-round fishing for bass, bluegill, trout; state license required). Day-use fee is $2 but may increase.

Hood Mountain Regional Park. From Santa Rosa, take State 12 east 9 miles, then take Los Alamos Road northeast 5 miles to the park entrance. Recently reopened after being flooded, this 1,430-acre park goes from 700 to 2,730 feet in elevation, with chaparral, scrub oak, and pine communities.

The 5-hour hike (5 miles one way) to Gunsight Rock is tough, steep, and exposed to the sun along most of the way. The first mile or so is paved and winds along Santa Rosa Creek; the rest is a fire road. The long haul rewards the hardy with the best view in the county-- one that stretches as far as the Sierra Nevada and San Francisco Bay. For a shorter trek, you might try just the 1-mile Santa Rosa Creek Trail, following a clear little stream where steelhead spawn in winter.

Day-use fee is $1. The park is open daylight hours weekends and holidays, and closes completely during fire season (usually Memorial Day to Labor Day).

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. From State 12 east of Santa Rosa, take Adobe Canyon Road northeast 2 miles to its end. Once a cattle ranch, this mountainous 2,500-acre park ranges in elevation from 600 feet to 2,729 feet atop Bald Mountain. Crisscrossing it are 25 miles of trails.

To find wildflowers, take Pony Gate, Ridge View, and Vista trails (passing Columbine Meadow); return via Digger Pine and Meadow trails. The walk, about 5 miles, gains only about 600 feet but includes views over the Sonoma Valley. For a cool stroll past lush ferns and a place to soak your feet, Canyon Trail winds for about a mile (one way) along Sonoma Creek. The park has 50 campsites ($10 per night); you can reserve through Mistix, (800) 444-7275. Day-use fee is $3.

Sonoma Valley Regional Park. Set in rolling hills 5 miles north of Sonoma off State 12, this park covers 162 acres of grassy oak woodlands. Picnic tables dot the slopes where you're likeliest to see wildflowers. The brushy lowlands are lively with warblers, sparrows, and meadowlarks. A new paved 1 1/4-mile bike and hiking path curves under mistletoe-laden oaks, and 2 miles of footpaths snake over the hills. Day-use fee is $1.

Photo: Star lily puts in a spring appearance in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park; hiker scans vista of chaparral from park's Ridge View Trail

Photo: Five parks branch off State 12 at Sonoma Valley's northwest end

Photo: Grassy shore at Spring Lake lures loungers; sailboat catches breeze

Photo: Proud catch: spin-caster pulled three trout from stocked Spring Lake

Photo: Shoes off, footsore hiker and companion refuel after hard hike up Hood Mountain
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Sunset
Date:Apr 1, 1988
Words:704
Previous Article:Hidden drip system irrigates a pair of wire baskets on a lamppost.
Next Article:Volunteering to restore historic ships in San Francisco.
Topics:


Related Articles
Leg-stretchers for the season's first hike.
Old oaks, dainty wildflowers in a Stockton regional park.
Window on the West.
Idyllic Annadel.
SPRING SIGNS POP(PY) UP ALONG DESERT ROADSIDE.
A.V. A BLOOMIN' SIGHT; POPPIES READY TO JOIN PALETTE OF WILDFLOWERS.
POPPY PUNDITS PESSIMISTIC : WARM MONTH, LACK OF RAIN SEEN AS BAD SIGN AT RESERVE.
SIGNS OF SPRING\Opening day nears for poppy reserve\Full blooms not expected 'til April because of cool weather in\February.
HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH WILDFLOWERS\Ventura County burn zones yield plenty of blooms.
WILDFLOWERS ARE PUTTING ON AN EARLY SHOW BEAUTIFUL BLOSSOMS A RESULT OF WET SEASON, SUNSHINE.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters