Guide to Outdoor Activities in Sonoma County This Spring
With extensive geographical diversity that includes the Pacific Ocean, rivers, lakes, beaches, coastal cliffs, mountains, valleys and forests (even pygmy forests), Sonoma County is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise at any time of the year.
But early spring, with its just-right temperatures, sunny days, gentle breezes, emerald green hillsides and explosion of bright-colored wildflowers, possesses a particular magic of its own.
Here are a few ideas for getting out and about in some outdoor activities in Sonoma County this spring.
Whether you feel like a day at the beach or a mountain hike, a quiet afternoon fishing or a stroll through deep forest, there’s a state park just waiting for you. Right now, in spring, just before the annual influx of visitors, is a great time to explore a state park. Here are a few examples:
At Jack London State Historic Park, once the home and ranch of writer/adventurer Jack London and his wife, Charmian, you’ll discover hiking trails, a small museum, well-preserved ranch buildings, the Londons’ graves, and much more. There’s always something happening here, too. Check out the Hike Into Early Spring on March 17, and A Mindful Walk on March 18.
Intimate in size and absolutely worth a visit, 520-acre Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is a haven for many stately Sequoia sempervirens—the famed redwood tree that can stand more than 250 feet tall and live more than 1000 years.
Go hiking, horseback riding, enjoy a picnic, and visit the environmental learning and visitor center.
Beautifully situated on the far northern coast of Sonoma County, Fort Ross State Historic Park—a thriving Russian-American settlement from 1812-1841—is rich with history.
Tour the historic compound, hike to the ancient orchard or on nearby trails, have a picnic at Sandy Cove (just below the fort), or try fishing for your dinner!
A stunning series of beaches separated by rock bluffs and headlands, Sonoma Coast State Park extends 17 miles from Bodega Head to 4 miles north of Jenner. It features more than a dozen scenic points along coast Highway 1.
Take a hike, launch your boat, camp out in an RV or tent, try windsurfing or kayaking, explore marine life in tidepools.
Read all about these and other state parks in Sonoma County.
Sonoma County’s regional park system consists of more than 50 parks—including trails and open spaces—and encompasses nearly 60,000 acres. Parks run the length and breadth of the county, from Gualala to Bodega Bay, and from the Pacific Ocean to Sonoma Valley.
For outdoor lovers, the regional park system provides an endless playground with opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, swimming, fishing, paddling, boating, camping, picnicking, photography…
And right now, with wildflowers blooming everywhere, is a great time to get outdoors. Visit the “Find a Park” page, which lets you locate a park that matches your outdoor interests (Fishing, birding, biking, dog parks, etc.). Or explore all the properties with the A-Z Parks guide.
And with more than 50 active parks, there is always something going on. In fact, the official 2017 Parks calendar shows events in one or more regional parks almost every day in March, from a strenuous Bill and Dave Hike on Hood Mountain to a bi-lingual outdoors program geared to tots—with wildflower walks, a backpacking clinic, the annual Surf Camp, Spring Equinox Celebrations, and much more in-between. You can peruse and select from the entire calendar here.
Events are free unless otherwise stated, but a $7 parking fee usually applies (free parking for Regional Parks members).
Meanwhile, here are just a few activities lined up for March and April in Sonoma County Regional Parks:
March 4 and April 1 (Saturdays) – Tide Pool Talk at Doran Regional Park: During this family-friendly event geared to all ages, join a ranger for hands-on fun exploring the sea creatures found in local tide pools. Meet at the amphitheater located behind the Jetty Campground restrooms. Call 707-565-2041 for more information.
March 11 (Saturday) – Seaweed & Sea Vegetables for Lunch at Stillwater Cove Regional Park: Against the stunning ocean backdrop at Stillwater Cove, you’ll hike a half-mile trail to the beach to learn about and search for various types of seaweed, followed by a chance to sample vegetarian sea delicacies. Meet at the northwest corner of the parking lot and wear sturdy shoes. For more information, call 707-847-3245.
March 25 (Saturday) – Vernal Pool Botany at Sonoma Valley Regional Park: Vernal pools are rare, and the plants that bloom in them are only visible for a short time each spring. Join the Regional Parks’ natural resources staff to get a glimpse of this unique ecosystem in bloom. Wear water-proof boots and layered clothing. For more information, call 707-565-2041.
March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 (Thursdays, 5:30-7 p.m.) – Settle Down at SunDown in Various Parks: Unwind and immerse yourself in nature with a focus on outdoor wellness and relaxation exercises like meditation walks, journaling, stretching and deep breathing at twilight. Settle Down will meet at a different park each week, starting with the Coastal Prairie Trail in Bodega Bay (followed by Ragle Ranch Regional Park, Riverfront Regional Park, Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail, and Foothill Regional Park). For more information, call Regional Parks at (707) 565-7888.
April 1 (Saturday, 1-3:30 p.m.) – Science Saturday, Environmental Discovery Center at Spring Lake Regional Park: The first Saturday of each month is Science Saturday at Spring Lake. Families are welcome to stop by and join a Discovery Center naturalist for fun, hands-on activities with a different theme each month—April’s theme covers the effect of climate change' on wildfires in California. Children will have the opportunity to make a fire triangle craft and learn about what forces are needed to start a fire. Programs begin on the hour at 1, 2 and 3pm. Science Saturdays feature tangible experiments and projects that let children explore the world around us. For more information, call (707) 539-2865.
April 22-23 (Saturday/Sunday) – Backpacking on Sonoma Mountain: Trek the distance on a guided 9-miler at Jack London State Historic Park and North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park, taking in amazing views, spring wildflowers, iconic oak woodlands, and abundant wildlife. Then, take advantage of a rare opportunity to spend the night on the mountain and enjoy outdoor meals, a campfire outdoor skills talks, an optional night hike to the “Umbrella Tree,” and early morning coffee before departure. This trip is for intermediate hikers. Cost: $100/adult and 2 children, and $50 for each additional child or adult. For more information, call (707) 565-2041.
April 22-23 (Saturday/Sunday) – Apple Blossom Festival, Sebastopol: The annual Apple Blossom Festival begins with a parade on Saturday, followed by live music, food, crafts, childrens' games, art show, wine and more! The fun carries on Sunday with the Festival and Jazz Explosion. More info.
April 22 – Earth Day at Quarryhill Botanical Garden: Celebrate Earth Day at this exquisite Botanical Garden. This free family event features hula hoops, reptiles, a Lion dance, origami, bee keepers, fire truck tours, live music, and arts and crafts. You’ll have the opportunity to purchase rare plants from the garden only available on Earth Day!
April 28-29 – Spring Vineyard Hike at Jordan Vineyard: Lace up your hiking boots and experience a guided wine country adventure across Jordan Vineyard and Winery. After a continental breakfast at Vista Point, with its sweeping panorama of mountain ranges, you’ll cover three miles of hills and valleys through natural wildlife habitat, sustainably farmed vineyards, cattle ranch, and more. Back at the Winery Chateau on the terrace you’ll enjoy a charcuterie picnic and wine tasting. More info.
April 29-30 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.)—Blossoms, Bees and Barnyard Babies in Various Locations: Enjoy a spring weekend along the farm trails, when Sonoma County farmers open their gates and barn doors to offer a taste of life on the farm.
Cuddle baby animals, watch honey bees make honey, learn about Sonoma County's rich agricultural history from the farmers themselves, sample delicious food and libations, and discover some of Sonoma County's best kept secrets! Many of the stops & activities are free. All you need is transportation, a map of your route, a cooler to keep your farm purchases fresh, and a sense of adventure. Register for free and Sonoma County Farm Trails will send you the official program/itinerary and a link to a live map, as the event draws near. More info.