This article was originally published in January, 2020.
Grab your backpack, fill up the water jug and lace up those boots. It’s time to take a hike! And, if you’re so inclined, sip some wine: in Sonoma County, there are tasting rooms at the end of the trail. (Remember to call wineries in advance to make sure that they are open, to get hike dates and make reservations).
Jenna Fischer contributed to this article.
Taylor Mountain, Santa Rosa
If you're looking for an Instagram-worthy hike, we recommend the Eastern Route Trail. This 3.2-mile trail (roundtrip), which was once an old mill farm road, will take you up a 1,000-foot hill and, in spring, past a variety of wildflowers. Lupine, tidy tips, woodland stars, poppies and the golden curlicues of fiddleneck make for great photos. The views aren't bad either. Open from 7 a.m. to sunset; $7 parking fee.
Spring Lake Regional Park, Santa Rosa
Spring Lake is perfect for hikers of all abilities, with 10 miles of trails linking to Trione-Annadel State Park and Howarth Park. Family-friendly trails can end with picnic and play at Howarth Park, and hikers looking for a more intense trek can tackle the Annadel trails. Throughout the year, the changing colors of the surrounding landscape reflect off the water, creating a mirroring effect. Open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset; parking is $7.
Howarth Park, Santa Rosa
This park near Spring Lake in Santa Rosa offers up plenty of family fun with a playground, mini-amusement park, and train rides. The park is also home to several relaxing trails that loop up and around the lake. Open daily, sunrise to sunset; parking is free.
Hood Mountain Regional Park, Santa Rosa
This is the perfect spot for seasoned hikers and those looking for a rugged challenge. A highlight of the park is the Hood Mountain summit, which stands at 2,730 feet, the highest peak in the Mayacamas Mountains. The trail climbs through grassy meadows and pine forests. A favorite for intrepid hikers is the trek to Gunsight Rock, which overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge on a clear day. Want a tougher challenge? Try taking the Goodspeed Trail that spans over eight miles and connects to Sugarloaf Ridge. Open 7 a.m. to sunset; parking is $7.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Kenwood
With 25 miles of trails that weave through oak woodlands and along babbling brooks, Sugarloaf has the right trail for everyone. The Canyon-Pony Gate Loop trail leads to a glorious 25-foot waterfall, which flows full-force during the rainy season. The Meadow Trail is a 1.6-mile roundtrip gravel road that’s perfect for those who need more accessibility. If you’re looking for a more strenuous hike with stunning views, try the 6.6-mile Bald Mountain Loop that takes you 1,529 feet up to the peak, where you can see as far as Mt. St. Helena to the north and San Francisco Bay to the south. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; parking is $8.
Jack London State Park, Glen Ellen
This historic landmark features over 1,000 acres of stunning nature and literary history. You can see the ruins of London's dream home, Wolf House, and choose between a short half-mile loop or a two-hour countryside walk. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; closed on December 25; $10 vehicle entry fee.
Quarryhill Botanical Garden, Glen Ellen
This Sonoma Valley treasure boasts one of the largest, wild-sourced, Asian plant collections in North America and Europe. You can download an app for self-guided tours through the 25-acre grounds. Take the trail up to Prayer Flags for Sonoma Mountain views. Open daily, 9 am to 4 pm.; closed some holidays; $12 adults, $10 seniors (65+), $8 children ages 13-17/active military/students.
Sonoma Valley Regional Park, Glen Ellen
Located in the center of Sonoma Valley, this 202-acre park features several shaded picnic areas and various short trails around ridges and hillsides. The main path is the 1.3-mile Valley of the Moon Trail, beginning in a meadow and winding through a forest of oaks along a seasonal creek. Springtime offers dreamy views of poppies, lupine, and other wildflowers. The park is open 8 a.m. to sunset and parking is $7.
Crane Creek Regional Park, Rohnert Park
This 128-acre park, full of sloping grasslands and grand oak trees, is an ideal spot to hike, ride horses, have a picnic or play disc golf. From December through July, cattle can be seen grazing around the park to reduce fire risk. Enjoy hiking with the cows along Crane Creek’s meadows from 7 a.m. to sunset; parking is $7.
Shollenberger Park, Petaluma
Go birdwatching on a leisurely stroll around this 165-acre wetlands park. Hugging the Petaluma River, this park features a pond encircled by a level, 2-mile trail that’s perfect for your daily run, a bike ride, walking the dog, or a casual walk with a friend observing the swans, swallows and red-winged blackbirds. Another trail branching off from the main loop takes you through Alman Marsh and to the Ellis Creek Treatment Plant. The park is open sunrise to sunset and parking is free.
The wetlands at Petaluma's Shollenberger Park and the Ellis Creek Trail have been included on an international list of critical wetlands worth protecting. The Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, a designation from the Switzerland-based International Union for Conservation of Nature will be helpful in securing grants for wildlife conservation and preservation.
Helen Putnam Regional Park, Petaluma
Whether you want to stroll along the fish pond or explore dense oak woodlands, there’s plenty of beautiful paths to take from the park’s six miles of trails. The Panorama Trail lives up to its name, offering spectacular views of the rolling hills and golden grasslands of the Petaluma Valley. Hikers, bikers, horses, and dogs (on leashes) are welcome on Helen Putnam’s trails from 8 a.m. to sunset, parking is $7.
This forested 5.5-mile route, linking Sebastopol, Forestville, and Graton, is perfect for cyclists looking for a nice stretch of road to bike. The trail is also a prime spot for bird-watching and admiring the thick moss which grows on the trees that line the path. The park opens at sunrise and closes at sunset.
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, Guerneville
This sprawling 805-acre redwood grove is the kind of place that can reinvigorate the soul. Take the 1-1.7-mile Pioneer Trail for a peaceful stroll among nature's giants. This state park is also a prime spot for snapping a selfie or sitting down for a family picnic. Open daily, from 8 a.m. to one hour after official sunset and charges an $8 parking fee per vehicle; $7 for seniors.
Take a "forest bath" in Armstrong Redwoods. Shinrin-yoku or "forest bathing" was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine.
The Kortum Trail, Jenner
Sonoma Coast State Park offers one of the most scenic hikes in the county. The 4-mile roundtrip coastal trail takes you from Goat Rock to Wright's Beach. You can explore coastal cliffs and gullies as you breathe refreshing ocean air. There is an $8 parking fee per vehicle. For park hours, call 707-875-3483.
Foothill Regional Park, Windsor
Located in the hills at the northeast corner of Windsor, this 211-acre parkland was a cattle ranch until the mid-1980s. The land is covered in oak savanna that is scattered with several species of oaks, bay, madrone, and buckeye trees. Many of the trails that weave through the hills are old ranch roads. This dog-friendly park (allowed on leash only) is a great place for some quality time with your pet. Open 7 am to sunset; parking is $7.
Riverfront Regional Park, Healdsburg
Located along the Russian River, Riverfront Regional Park offers less strenuous jaunts than the area’s higher-incline trails, but still has incredible views. With two lakes and a redwood grove, hikers can enjoy the 2-mile Lake Trail that loops around the park and end the day with a picnic under the redwoods. Open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset; parking is $7.
Mount Saint Helena
Mount Saint Helena is the tallest peak in Sonoma County at 4,339 feet. It is located in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, at the intersection of Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties. The 5.3-mile trail to the summit is steep due to a steady climb, but not too strenuous. Once at the top, the views are spectacular: 360-degree vistas that extend across Napa Valley to Mount Tamalpais, to San Francisco and the twin peaks of Mount Diablo in the south, Mount Lassen and Snow Mountain in the north, the Vaca Mountains in the east and the coastal ranges and the ocean in the west.
Kunde Family Winery, Kenwood
The hiking program at Kunde Family Winery takes you 1,400 feet above the Sonoma Valley floor to the Mayacamas Mountains. You will get a firsthand look at sustainable winegrowing practices as you take in Sonoma County scenery. The hike concludes with a trip to the tasting room (this trail is for 21+ only). The winery advises participants to pack a lunch. Tours are $40 per person ($20 for wine club members) and begin at 9 a.m. There are dog hikes too ($90 per person), paired with wine tasting. Reservations are required.
Alexander Valley Vineyards, Healdsburg
The "grape-to-glass" excursion at the Wetzel family estate is less of a hike and more of a leisurely stroll among the vineyards and winery grounds in Healdsburg. The tour ends with wine tasting straight from the barrel in an underground cave. This 21 and up-only hike is $50 per person and requires a 48-hour reservation beforehand.
By: Michael Barnes & Maci Martell