October 2019 Outdoor Events Roundup

Suzie Rodriguez

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October in Sonoma County means farm stands overflowing with pumpkins, warm days and cool nights, flocks of migrating birds visiting local ponds and marshes, and a slower pace just about everywhere you go. With autumn taking center stage, it’s a great time to be out and about. Here are a few ideas to spark your next adventure:

October 5 (Saturday): Celebrate Autumn’s Bounty at Historic Fort Ross

guests at Fort Ross Harvest Festival in Sonoma County

Enjoy the beauty of autumn on Sonoma County’s northern coast at the annual Fort Ross Harvest Festival. You’ll experience gorgeous ocean views, crisp sea breezes, and lots of outdoor fun. Expect apple and pear picking (and juicing the apples), pumpkin carving for kids of all ages, painting wooden apples brought from a Russian village, Russian songs performed by Kedry (in costumes), a demonstration of the windmill, interpretive talks, and an optional farm-to-table family-style luncheon (reserve in advance). There will be no food vendors at this event, but you are welcome to bring a picnic. The event is free; parking is $8 per car. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more info, visit this page, email [email protected], or phone 707-847-3437.

Fort Ross State Historic Park, 19005 Coast Highway, Jenner 95450

October 5 (Saturday): Paddle Race at Doran Beach

paddle race logo Sonoma County

Enter or watch the 8th annual Blue Water Paddle Race, with competitions for canoes, surfboards, SUPs, kayaks, surfskis, outrigger canoes (OC1 and OC2), and others – including a pet-with-adult race and team relays consisting of 1 male, 1 female and 1 child. Expect lots of fun. A raffle will also be held, and lunch will be served around noon. 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tickets, which include food and prizes: $30/adults, $10 kids 18 and under. Parking $7 (free for regional park members). To sign up and/or register, visit this page. 

Doran Regional Park, 201 Doran Beach Rd., Bodega Bay 94923

October 6 (Sunday): Write & Sketch with the Nature Journal Club

Shiloh Ranch Regional park in Windsor in Sonoma County

Here’s a great way to deepen your connection to the natural world. The theme of this event, held at Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, is “Animal Signs & Homes.” You’ll practice identifying animals by what they leave behind, and then write about and/or sketch your findings. The event is open to all ages and abilities, and includes instruction on artistic techniques. Please bring your own journal and art supplies. Dress to sit on the ground or bring a camp chair. You’ll hike 1-2 miles on easy to moderate trails. 9-11 a.m. This event is free. Parking is $7 or free for Regional Parks members. For more info, phone 707-539-2865.

Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, 5750 Faught Rd., Windsor 95403

October 12-13 (Saturday & Sunday): Experience a Steam-Powered Sawmill at Work

steam powered mill at Sturgeon's Mill in Sonoma County

Marvel over the workings of a 1913 steam-powered sawmill at Sebastopol’s Sturgeon’s Mill. On four weekends a year, this working museum gives visitors the rare opportunity to watch the original mill and equipment in action with every bit of steam-belching, earth-shaking, noise-making glory intact. You’ll have a chance to chat with volunteer crew members who work the mill and learn about the machines they operate, and you might want to stroll along paths in the lovely historic “Woodland Gardens” adjacent to the mill. Free. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sturgeon’s Mill, 2150 Green Hill Rd., Sebastopol 95472

October 12-13 & 19-20 (Saturdays & Sundays): Celebrate Fall

children enjoying tolay park fall festival in Sonoma County

The Tolay Fall Festival has a definite emphasis on fun for the entire family, and it’s so popular that it always runs on two separate weekends. You and your kids can get  some pre-Halloween thrills in the infamous “Nighttime Creatures Barn,” home to snakes, birds of prey, and even taxidermied wildlife. You’ll take a hayride to a pumpkin patch, learn about Alaguali flint knapping and basket-making, and – if you dare -- even take part in a pumpkin-seed spitting contest! And there’s so much more to enjoy. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. Admission: $5/adults & teens, $3 for kids. Parking is $7 (except for Regional Parks members, who park for free and also get free admission for two adults and two children).

Tolay Lake Regional Park, 5869 Cannon Ln., Petaluma 94954

October 12 & 13 (Saturday & Sunday): Explore Sonoma County’s Farm Trails

farm trails in Sonoma County Logo

The annual “Weekend Along the Farm Trails” offers a fun and easy way to explore Sonoma County’s gorgeous back roads. On both weekends the gates and barns of Farm Trails members open wide for visitors, who discover fun activities, delicious goodies, and even find Holiday gifts to buy. Your family can select the perfect pumpkin for your porch, enjoy a farm tour, dance to live music, meet farm animals (farmers, too!), and lots more. Most stops along the route are free, but you’ll need to register for the event to receive a list of participating venues. To register, visit this page. You can download a free Sonoma County Farm Trails Map & Guide here, For more info, write [email protected]

October 19 (Saturday): Adventure Out with the Family

Jack London State Historic Park in Sonoma County

Enjoy a free, family-friendly and kid-focused adventure during Family Adventure Day at Jack London State Historic Park. Take a fun naturalist-led nature walk at 11 a.m. sharp, during which you’ll make a simple bird call device from everyday items and then try it out on the trail. The walk ends back at the main activity area, where participants can visit live raptors with Native Bird Connections and then create a fun piece of art with Art Escape. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Light snacks will be provided. The event is free, but a $10 parking fee is required at the gate. Please register in advance for free tickets.

Jack London State Historic Park, 2400 London Ranch Rd., Glen Ellen 95442

October 27 (Sunday): Hike for Health & Hilarity

Start your morning at 820-acre North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park, enjoying great views and a lot of laughs. This is one of four regional parks autumn hikes (one each month from Sept. through Dec.), each from 4 to 5 miles in length and with some steep inclines, that are geared to experienced hikers or those looking for a challenge. Be prepared for hike leaders to lighten things up with seasonal jokes and puns. The hike is free. Parking is $7, but free for Regional Parks members. For more information, call 707-565-3080.

North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve, 5297 Sonoma Mountain Rd., Santa Rosa 95404