On the Trail to Spring Picnics in Sonoma County
By Regional Parks Staff
May 3, 2016
Spring in Sonoma County is practically a Technicolor experience, and a picnic in the park is one of the best ways to enjoy the season's vivid beauty.
You'll find picnic areas at the entrances of many Sonoma County Regional Parks, and these are great sites if you have limited time or you're with a large group. But if you're up for a little adventure, you can discover more remote picnic sites, settings where you feel you've got the park all to yourself and are immersed in the sights, sounds and scents of spring.
Here are a few of our favorite out-of-the-way picnic spots:
The Umbrella Tree Trail is a steady climb of less than a mile to a giant, multi-trunked California bay tree and amazing mountainside views. The trail begins above the ranger residence at this regional park southeast of Santa Rosa and follows a former ranch road through forests of oaks and bays. The last section opens to expansive grasslands glowing emerald green in spring. The trail ends at the edge of the mountain, where the enormous Umbrella Tree stands sentinel. Near the tree is a lone picnic table with 1,500-foot views of Santa Rosa to the west and Bennett Valley to the north. Trail map
With golden poppies dotting green meadows, this park east of Rohnert Park is the epitome of spring. From the entrance, follow the Creek Trail nearly a half mile to the namesake creek running through the park. Here, the trail intersects with the Buckeye and Sunset trails, and you’ll find a creekside picnic table under the gnarled branches of old oaks. Kids will love climbing the low, sturdy limbs and hopping across the rocks in the creek. Adults will love that the kids are keeping themselves entertained. Trail map
The Oakwood Trail runs along the northern spine of this compact wilderness park in northeast Windsor. As its name suggests, the trail weaves through an oak woodland. Branches arch overhead, covered in new, green leaves. Tall grasses rustle in the spring breeze. From the park entrance, take the Westwood Trail on the left and make a half-mile climb to a ridgetop. Connect to the Oakwood Trail and follow it a short distance to several picnic tables spaced along the path. Each offers far-off views beyond the tree tops. Trail map
Because you'll hike up to a mile to reach these sites, keep your load light - sandwiches, fruit and other portable items you that fit in your day pack. It's OK to enjoy alcohol in the parks, so if there's room in your pack for your favorite Sonoma County wine or craft beer, here's to you!
Keep it real
Keep in mind all of these picnic sites are a little rugged. They're not manicured grounds, and the tables could be described as "vintage." But that's part of the adventure, right?
Up for sharing your picnic? Post your park photos with the hashtag #SonomaCountyParks.
Are you a Regional Parks member? Membership is the easiest, most convenient way to visit the parks year-round.