Discover Sonoma County by Train and Bike
Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit—commonly known as the SMART train—provides a convenient and easy way to explore large parts of Sonoma County by bike.
SMART trains welcome cyclists. Every two-car train can hold up to 24 bicycles, and all stations offer storage that includes bike racks and secured bike lockers. SMART is currently exploring partnerships that will provide bike sharing near some stations.
Together, we can protect and preserve the beauty and natural resources of Sonoma County for generations to come. Check out our page on Sustainable Travel, and look over the Leave No Trace Seven Principles.
Work is underway on a pathway running next to or near SMART tracks; as of December 2020, about 23 miles of pathway had been completed, with another 9 miles slated for completion by 2023. When finished, the planned pathway will stretch for 70 miles between Sonoma and Marin counties, becoming one of the nation's longest bicycle/pedestrian pathways. See a map of the pathway's progress.
SMART currently has six stations in Sonoma County, running south from Santa Rosa to Petaluma. Future construction projects will extend the tracks further north in Sonoma County, with stations in Windsor, Healdsburg, and Cloverdale. There are five stations to the south, in Marin County, the final stop in Larkspur offers ferry service to San Francisco.
Here's a look at some of the activities you can bike to at various stops along Sonoma County's SMART train route, beginning with what is currently the northernmost station, Airport Boulevard in Santa Rosa.
Airport Boulevard Station
From this stop it's a quick hop to the Pacific Coast Aviation Museum, just south of the Charles M Schulz Sonoma County Airport, where you can learn about Sonoma County's aviation heritage while exploring more than 35 historic aircraft. The nearest winery, Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, is slightly southeast about 1.5 miles and offers beautiful gardens.
Cyclists who want to pursue more challenging rides might consider heading west along beautiful River Road about 18 miles to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, making for a 36-mile loop. Or for a real workout, do the 30-mile trek to Goat Rock Beach (a 60-mile loop).
Santa Rosa North
This station provides entry to bicycle lanes on Guerneville and Fulton roads; they lead to Santa Rosa's extensive system of paths and trails, which wend through both cityscape and countryside. Bike along Santa Rosa Creek, peddle out to popular Spring Lake Regional Park, or try one of many destinations. Get the official trail map.
From the station, Peanuts lovers are only half a mile from the Charles M. Schulz Museum, which honors the beloved cartoonist and his Peanuts gang. You'll also find Snoopy's Home Ice; Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop; and the highly interactive Children's Museum of Sonoma County, dedicated to instilling a sense of wonder and teaching children (and their parents) about the arts, sciences, and the world around them.
Downtown Santa Rosa
You're in for a real treat at this station. It's not only situated in the historic Railroad Square district — filled with antique shops, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues — but it's also located next to the historic 1904 train depot building, which now houses the Santa Rosa Visitor Center / California Welcome Center.
The downtown station is an outdoor recreational hub. Many of Santa Rosa's best trails are a short distance away from the station, including the connected Santa Rosa Creek and Prince Memorial Greenway trails. You'll find a number of bike rental shops within easy walking distance of this station, including Bike Partners and Trek Bicycle Store.
Tall redwood trees line the sides of this train stop, which is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, offices, and shopping centers. Cycle west for a bit less than five miles to reach Crane Creek Regional Park, where you'll find 3.5 miles of multi-use trails, great hilltop views, and even an 18-hole disc golf course.
Just a mile from the station is the city-owned state-of-the-art Spreckels Performing Arts Center, known for its high-profile performers. Another mile east is the Green Music Center, with outstanding acoustics to complement performances that include chamber music, symphony orchestras, jazz, bluegrass, cabaret, blues, recitals, soloists, world music, dance, acrobats, and comedy.
Like Rohnert Park, Cotati's train station is situated in a solidly residential neighborhood and is also a short bike ride—about two miles east—to the Green Music Center. The town's popular gathering spot, hexagonal-shaped La Plaza Park, dates from the 1890s and is only a mile from the station.
Petaluma's train station is particularly convenient because that's where you'll find the Petaluma Visitors Center, housed in an authentic 1914 train depot. From here you can bike a few blocks to the west along Washington Street, and on the far side of the Petaluma River you'll find historic downtown Petaluma, where well-preserved old buildings house an engaging mix of boutiques, antique shops, specialty stores, and restaurants.
If you're an architecture fan, bicycle through the turn-of-the-century residential section, with its beautiful homes. Or head to Shollenberger Park, 165 acres of beautiful wetlands that include 16 acres of trails. It's a haven for migrating birds, with more than 140 species recorded here.
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.