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Wine country hiking and biking; two new parks in the hills near Santa Rosa.

Wine country biking and hiking take on added appeal as fall days cool and vineyards begin turning crimson. North of Santa Rosa, the town of Windsor offers two new places to admire the scenery-Shiloh Ranch and Foothill Oaks regional parks. This month you can also enjoy similar scenery while planting trees on the Sonoma County Multi-Use Trail, between Sebastopol and Santa Rosa.

Each destination is just off U.S. 101 about an hour's drive north of San Francisco. At both parks (day use only; $1 entry fee), hikers, horses, and mountain bikers share hillside trails. Bring your own water, and watch for poison oak.

Shiloh Ranch Regional Park. This 350-acre park is the bigger-and wilder-of the two. Its three trails climb through grasslands and chaparral, then into oak, madrone, and Douglas fir. Trails are wide but steep and somewhat rocky, so are best suited to hiking. However, if you're a strong, experienced mountain biker, you may enjoy the challenge of the terrain.

For a 3 1/2-mile loop, head up from the parking lot, then turn right onto Big Leaf Trail. It traverses the hill for about a mile, then joins Ridge Trail. Turn left and go another mile on Ridge as it bends and rises steeply to the top (a good picnic location). Here, you'll see Santa Rosa, the Russian River, and Geyser Peak.

Check overhead for golden eagles and red-shouldered and sharp-shinned hawks. Continuing on Ridge Trail, you'll soon intersect with Pond Trail. Trek 1/2 mile on Pond to an old cattle watering hole or stay on Ridge and return in mile to the parking lot.

On the trail, you may see black-tailed deer and even bobcat and gray fox. No dogs are allowed in this park. From U.S. 101, take Shiloh Road east; turn right on Faught Road and go a block to the park.

Foothill Oaks Regional Park. Gentler trails traverse these 208 acres; the park was scheduled to open September 3, but call (707) 527-2041 to confirm. Picnic at tables near the entrance, or take an easy 2-mile loop trail through oak woodland and past three ponds (no swimming or fishing).

To get there from US. 101, take Shiloh Road a mile east and turn left onto Old Redwood Highway. In 3 miles, turn right on Lakewood Road, then take the first left onto Brooks Road. Go 1/2 mile, turn right on Foothill Road, then left on Elsbree Road to the park.

Sonoma County Multi-Use Trail. On October 6 and 7, volunteers can help plant trees on this new link between Sebastopol and Santa Rosa. If possible, bring gloves and tools; for details, call Sonoma County ReLeaf at 539-4119.
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Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Directory
Date:Oct 1, 1990
Words:447
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