Outdoor Activities in Sonoma County this March
The month of March means it’s still winter in Sonoma County, but spring is on the way, and there are hundreds of trails in state, regional, and community parks that are open to bikers, hikers, equestrians, wheelchairs, dogs on a leash, and parents pushing baby carriages.
Some days are bracing and chilly, while others bring sunshine’s warmth. Leaves are starting to bud, and some of the region’s early blooms — bright yellow field mustard, golden acacia puffballs —catch the eye. Here are just a few ways for you to enjoy Sonoma County’s beautiful outdoors this month:
Tour McEvoy Ranch & Take a Succulent Workshop
March 11 (Sunday)
For two great activities in a fun half-day excursion, sign up for this combination event. McEvoy Ranch gardener Kyli Rose will host a succulent workshop in the ranch’s greenhouse in which you’ll learn about propagating, designing and caring for a succulent garden, and also make your own arrangement to take home. Preceding the workshop will be a tour of the ranch, including its fabulous gardens and succulent collection. An added treat: a flight of ranch wines and a tasting of McEvoy’s extra virgin olive oils. Fee: $85. For more information, call 707-769-4138.
Take a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Sonoma County’s Flood Protection
March 10, 15, and 24
Here’s a chance to participate in a free tour of the region’s flood control facilities, from those located in well-known spots such as Spring Lake to lesser-known facilities like Matanzas Creek Reservoir. You’ll see beautiful areas, learn a lot about flood control, and have fun in the bargain. Tours run from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 10; Thursday, March 15; and Saturday, March 24 (the tour on the 24th is for Spanish speakers). Tours are free, but registration is required. Children must be 12 years old and accompanied by an adult. To register, visit this page. Tour meet up location and additional details will be given after registration.
Learn The Ins and Outs of Backpacking/Camping Trips
March 11 (Sunday)
Sonoma County Regional Parks is holding this informative two-hour class at Sebastopol’s Ragle Ranch Regional Park. “Overnight Trip Planning 101” is designed to bring outdoor lovers up to speed on planning a multiple-day camping or backpacking trip. You’ll learn how to prepare for inclement weather, obtain permits, the essentials of first aid kits, clothing/gear, and food prep and cooking methods, as well as map reading and any other information needed for a safe, comfortable, and happy trip. The class is free, but a $7 parking fee applies and registration is required. 2-4 p.m. More info: 707-565-2041.
Study the Night Stars at Robert Ferguson Observatory
March 17 (Saturday)
Try something unique this St. Patrick’s day: visit Sonoma Valley’s Robert Ferguson Observatory, with its three main telescopes — including a 40-incher — for its monthly Star Party. The fun starts at dusk, when the scopes are available for public viewing, and docents with additional telescopes will be on hand to answer questions. Robert Ferguson Observatory is located in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, which is far removed from the glare of city lights, so the opticals here are excellent. For more information, visit the website.
Bring the Family on a Guided Bird Walk
March 24 (Saturday)
Co-hosted by Sonoma County Regional Parks and the Madrone Audubon Society, and held at popular Spring Lake Regional Park, this guided family bird walk is for folks who enjoy wildlife watching, learning new skills, and meeting other outdoor enthusiasts. You’ll learn about springtime bird behaviors — nesting, foraging, and singing — of resident and migratory avians. All levels of birding experience are welcome. Bring binoculars and field guides if you have them (binoculars will be available for use). The Madrone Audubon Society will provide refreshments after the walk. This event is free, but a parking fee of $7 applies. 10 a.m.-noon. For more information, call 707-565-2041.
Explore Two Stunning Parks on a Guided Hike
March 24 (Saturday)
Enjoy an informative hike within the extreme northern part of Hood Mountain Regional Park and the McCormick addition of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. A moderately strenuous 6.5-mile hike with a 1,000-foot elevation gain, it highlights Homestead Meadow near the Santa Rosa Creek crossing, Grandmother Oak Tree within McCormick, and the former Spaulding property (now a part of Hood Mountain Regional Park). Gather with tour leaders Bill & Dave at 9:45 a.m. sharp in the regional parks parking lot at the end of Los Alamos Road, approximately 4.5 miles north of Highway 12. Departure begins promptly at 10 a.m. Bring lunch, water, appropriate-weather clothing, and expect a shallow water crossing at Santa Rosa Creek. Participation is free, but a regional parks parking fee of $7 applies. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more info, call Bill at 707-833-6288, Dave at 707-539-8847, or visit billanddavehikes.
Check Out Early Spring Blooms & Vernal Pools
March 31 (Saturday)
Vernal Pools are temporary bodies of water that provide habitat for distinctive plants and animals. A botanical field trip by the Laguna Environmental Center will tour one or two of these unique wetland ecosystems. The event begins in the Center’s Heron Hall, with hot drinks and an overview of Santa Rosa Plain vernal pool ecology, and then it’s out to see the lovely sights. Depending on weather, flowers might include the endangered Sonoma sunshine and Sebastopol meadowfoam, as well as other early season native vernal pool forbs and grasses. Walking on uneven ground will occur, and possibly wet and muddy ground. Children 12 and up are welcome, accompanied by an adult. Fee: Sliding scale, $25-$50. For more information contact Anita Smith at 707-527-9277 or [email protected].