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Winter Hikes on the Northern Sonoma Coast

One of the things I love doing in winter is hiking in the far northern reaches of Sonoma County’s coast. Just getting there is a memorable experience, what with cruising along cliffs poised high above the Pacific Ocean, encountering views so huge they can never be captured with a camera — let alone your memory.

Once I’m there, I hike for hours each day, always within sight of the sea (and often right beside it). A chilly breeze, the sound of gulls and crashing waves, the salty tang of sea air, an occasional glimpse of a passing marine mammal … It’s a rejuvenating experience.

Winter Redwood Hikes in Sonoma County

Hanging out with the world’s tallest living things — redwood trees — is a great thing to do at any time of the year but in early winter a redwood forest’s majestic hush and soaring canopy can transform even a short walk into an unforgettable Sonoma County experience.

Take a hike at one of these Sonoma County redwood groves, and you’ll see what I mean:

Outdoor Events in Sonoma County for January 2018

Even in the dead of winter there is plenty of outdoor adventure to be found in Sonoma County. Eleven state parks and nearly 60 regional parks offer countless trails for hiking, cycling, running, horseback riding, and wildlife watching. Go golfing, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking, or rock climbing. Or just stroll along a beach until you find a good place to hunker down and scan the horizon for migrating whales.

Outdoor Activities in Sonoma County this December

December in Sonoma County is delightful. Every trip outdoors becomes a celebration. A new seasonal chill invigorates every activity, from drives along backcountry roads to steep uphill hiking. A late-fall clarity in the air enhances panoramic vistas, and the region’s immense natural beauty becomes a fitting backdrop for festive Holiday lights. Here are just a few ways to enjoy the outdoors this month:

Now through Jan. 1:

2 Perfect Coastal Parks to Visit This Winter

Each season on the Sonoma County coast has its own particular beauty, but — for me, at least — nothing beats late fall. That’s when the iconic coastal Highway 1 is uncrowded and often empty. Fog rarely makes an appearance, and days are sunny, with a crisp, invigorating tang to the air. In other words: everything’s lined up to take a perfect trip along the coast.

When I head north, two of my favorite places to visit are Fort Ross State Historic Park and Gualala Regional Park. Here’s why: