New Outdoor Experiences in Sonoma County
Horseback Riding: The Ranch at Lake Sonoma
The steep hills surrounding Geyserville’s 2,700-acre Lake Sonoma offer stunning 360° views of pristine forests, lush vineyards, and the beautiful lake itself. Horseback riding on the trails here is an equestrian’s dream, one that’s long been available to horse owners. Now, thanks to a partnership between the equestrian center at The Ranch at Lake Sonoma and the Army Corps—which manages the 17,500-acre Lake Sonoma Recreation Center—people who don’t own horses can ride here too.
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma offers six different trail rides. The shortest, the 30-minute “Dry Creek Valley View Ride” ($50 for a public ride; $65 if you book a private ride for a minimum of two people), provides sensational views of Dry Creek, Geyserville, Mt. Saint Helena, and beyond.
At 1hour 40 minutes, the “Heritage Oaks Lake View Ride” ($149-$179) is the longest ride, taking you from the rocky Southlake Trail through a meadow; oak, madrone and bay trees; and to a view of the lake only available to Ranch guests. Along the way are switchbacks, lots of cliff views, and rugged ups and downs.
Other trails include “Rocky Trail” ($69-$109, 45 minutes), “Skaggs Vista View” ($89-$109, 50 minutes), “Wine Country Horseback Adventure” ($119-$149, 1 hour 10 minutes), and “A Trip Up Lake View Mountain” ($109-$129, 1 hour).
With children? Consider a donkey ride, available for kids ages 3-8 who are under 70 pounds. It’s $10 for 10 minutes in the arena riding on a donkey, or $40 for a hand-led trail ride of up to 30 minutes.
For more information, visit this page.
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma, 100 Marina Rd., Lot A, Geyserville, CA 95441
Modini Mayacamas Preserves
The newest sanctuary belonging to Audubon Canyon Ranch, the Modini Mayacamas Preserves, consists of 3,000 acres on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains above Highway 128 in the Alexander Valley. The preserve merges two properties: the Modini Ingalls Ecological Preserve and the Mayacamas Mountains Sanctuary.
These Preserves feature biologically diverse habitats that include oak woodlands, grasslands, chaparral, pine and riparian forests, natural springs, wild streams and several rare plants. Among the wildlife who live here are black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, grey foxes, deer, and nesting golden eagles. The Preserves are also part of the 12,000 acres of contiguous habitat in the Mayacamas Mountains protected under conservation easements.
The Preserves are notable for birding. Pine Flat Road, a public road through the property, provides pullouts that work well for birdwatching (or just enjoying the beautiful views). You can also see the property on a public guided hike—check out Audubon Canyon Ranch’s calendar online (a wildflower tour occurs on May 15).
Ace It! Adds a New Bike Tour
Sonoma County’s Ace It! Bike Tours continues adding interesting tours to its lineup. The latest: a Windsor Bike ‘n Brew Tour. You’ll visit boutique breweries and specialty taproom cafes on this new tour. It starts in the charming downtown of Windsor, and then wends onto rural country roads. Along the way you’ll taste great craft beer and learn the history of local brewing.
Ace It! Also offers the Santa Rosa Bike ‘N Brew Tour, Sonoma Wine Country Tour, and Healdsburg Cycling Wine Tour. Discounted packages for everything from hotels to hot air ballooning are available, as are bike rentals if you want to explore on your own without a guide.
Ace It! Bike Tours, 371 Windsor River Rd., Windsor, CA 95492