Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Nestled into the majestic Mayacamas Mountains between Sonoma and Napa valleys, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is home to the headwaters of 33-mile-long Sonoma Creek, a 25-foot seasonal waterfall, and 2,729-foot Bald Mountain.
The park’s unusual name is derived from the 19th-century practice of molding sugar into cone-shaped loaves (many of the Park’s hills have that shape).
You’ll find three basic ecological systems at the nearly 4,000-acre Park: ridges covered with chaparral (including coyote bush, toyon, and winebush), open meadows with oak and fir woodlands, and a redwood forest in the canyon where Sonoma Creek flows.
Other plants include madrone, California laurels, big-leaf maples, alders, and gray pines. A Wappo tribe village was once located high on Sonoma Creek, and acorn-grinding rocks used by the women can still be seen nearby.
There is much to do in this park:
Hiking: With 25 miles of trails in elevations ranging from 600 feet to the top of Bald Mountain, hiking at Sugarloaf Ridge is terrific. For a simple hike, consider taking the self-guided nature trail along Sonoma Creek.
Up for a challenge? Set out for the top of Bald Mountain, from whence — on a clear day — you’ll view the Golden Gate Bridge and even the Sierra Nevada range. And there are plenty of trails running the gamut between these two extremes. Read about four popular trails in the park.
Horseback Riding: Equestrians share 25 miles of trails with hikers.
Mountain Biking: Bikes can be ridden on designated fire roads and service roads.
Camping: The park has 47 family campsites situated on a large meadow near Sonoma Creek. The sites are capable of accommodating trailers up to 24 feet and RVs up to 27 feet in length, and each has a table and fire ring. Flush toilets and drinking water are nearby. A group campsite, capable of handling 50 people, is also located in the park. Download the camping brochure.
Fishing: Good trout fishing can be had in late spring/early summer in Sonoma Creek. Anglers 16 and over must have a California fishing license.
Robert Ferguson Observatory: An unusual addition to any park, the observatory houses several big telescopes. It’s open to the public on specific weekends throughout the year for night and solar viewing. A small fee is charged for night viewing. The observatory has also created an outdoor scale model of the solar system, allowing you to hike from planet to planet. Learn more about the observatory.
What you need to know:
- Location/Contact Info: 2605 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood 95452, 707-833-5712. Park website.
- Camping: Campsites must be paid for in advance and can be reserved through Reserve America. For more information, visit this page.
- Dogs: Dogs and other pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet in length. Pets are not permitted on trails except when designated. At night, they must be kept inside tents or vehicles.