What’s better than a hike in the green hills? A hike in the green hills, followed by fresh sticky buns or warm apple turnovers! Below are eight excellent hikes plus brunches in Sonoma County.
A grand outing: Explore the 155-acre Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve, then make your way to the Montage Healdsburg via a short connector trail for brunch at Hazel Hill (100 Montage Way, Healdsburg, 707-979-9000), complete with a show-stopping dessert display.
Climb for cupcakes: The Panorama Trail at Helen Putnam Regional Park involves a rather steep climb; for a gentler stroll, opt for the paved Ridge Trail. But make your first steps of the day to nearby Della Fattoria (143 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-763-0161) to grab all the butter-laden pastries, cupcakes, éclairs, and tarts you can carry.
Birds and brunch: Admire the regal herons and egrets at the Laguna de Santa Rosa, then swing by the Youth Annex at the Sebastopol Community Center, where a colony of cliff swallows nests each spring. After, the Belly & Jelly sandwich from The Farmer’s Wife at The Barlow (6760 McKinley St., Sebastopol, 707-827-3306) delivers gooey bliss, with cheddar, blue cheese, bacon, jam, and honey.
Seaside treats: Pick up warm sticky buns from Twofish Baking at Stewart’s Point Store (32000 Highway 1, Stewarts Point, 707-785-2011), then head to the Black Point Coastal Access Trail to enjoy the buttery, caramel delights with an ocean view. (Buy extras. You’ll thank us later.)
French flair: Tempt your friends with flaky croissants, tarts, and melt-in-your-mouth macarons from Les Pascals patisserie (13758 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-934-8378) before meandering through Sonoma Valley Regional Park. Tables along the paved Valley of the Moon Trail make picnicking easy.
Mimosa motivation: Take in the panoramic views from the Sonoma Overlook Trail, then toast your efforts with a mango mimosa or a creamy chai latte in the garden at Sunflower Caffé (421 First St. W., Sonoma, 707-996-6645).
An apple fix: A hot apple turnover (topped with vanilla ice cream, of course!) at Willow Wood Market Café (9020 Graton Road, Graton, 707-823-0233) tastes even sweeter after catching a fragrant whiff of the busy apple mills along the West County Regional Trail in Graton.
Stacks of sweetness: Savor the banana caramel French toast topped with whipped cream at Pepper’s Cafe (1451 Southwest Blvd., Rohnert Park, 707-664-5601), then earn every bite trekking along the more than three miles of trails at Crane Creek Regional Park.
Written by Dana Rebmann