North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park Opens February 14
February 12, 2015
North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve
opens to the public Saturday, Feb. 14. The 820-acre park southeast of Santa
Rosa features a 4-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail connection to Jack London State
Historic Park. The trail climbs to nearly 2,000 feet on the north face of the
mountain, leading hikers across creeks and forests and offering stunning views
of Sonoma County.
This addition to the Regional Parks system provides the first
public access to the north side of Sonoma Mountain, one of the county's
defining landforms. It includes the headwaters
of two branches of Matanzas Creek, the only remaining coast redwood groves on
the mountain’s north slope, large areas of continuous oak woodlands, and a
vernal pool with a rare buttercup plant species. It also supports the
Sonoma Valley wildlife corridor, providing habitat for mountain lions, bobcats,
golden eagles, western pond turtles, and other animals.
The site is comprised of six properties, five of which were
acquired by the voter-funded Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District over the past decade and transferred to Regional Parks last year
by the Board of Supervisors.
are thrilled that this day has arrived,” said Board Chairwoman Susan Gorin,
whose First District includes the park. “North Slope Mountain provides
spectacular views and access to a rare and wonderful landscape.”
Before the transfer, the District and Regional Parks collaborated
with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, the California Coastal Conservancy and
California State Parks to build the Ridge Trail segment and a parking area. The
segment is a standout among county trails due to its quality design and
through-hiking opportunities. When combined with Jack London’s existing and new
trail segments, Sonoma Mountain now has about 9 miles of Bay Area Ridge Trail.
“We are so excited to be part of this trail
network," said Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart. "In addition
to great hiking, North Sonoma Mountain gives residents and visitors a chance to
better understand a Sonoma County landmark and is a testament to the
vision of local voters and the planning and collaboration of our partners.”
The trail begins in the ferns and redwoods on the south fork of
Matanzas Creek, then weaves up through forests of oaks and bay laurels and
fields of native grasses. Hikers are treated to sweeping views of the Santa
Rosa Plain and coastal range to the west, Taylor and Bennett Mountains and Mt.
Saint Helena to the north, and Hood Mountain and Sugarloaf Ridge to the east.
“Connecting the Ridge Trail across Sonoma Mountain is a tremendous
accomplishment and a significant boost toward our goal of about 50 continuous
miles in Sonoma County,” said Bay Area Ridge Trail Executive Director Janet
McBride. “And the trail itself is absolutely world class – it will knock your
Additional trails include a wheelchair-accessible vista point
above the park entrance and the Umbrella Tree Trail, a .75-mile trail to a lone
bay tree and picnic spot with views of Santa Rosa and Bennett Valley. Park picnic
options also include several creekside tables in the redwood grove at the Ridge
The park will be open daily from sunrise to sunset. Trails are open
to hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers, though bike use on the Ridge
Trail is limited to the first 2 miles. At this time, dogs are not allowed on
A master planning process is expected to begin this year to gather
feedback on the park's future uses and management. The process will consider
how existing amenities are used, whether new features can be developed and how natural resources are managed. Any future trails would be
developed based on master plan recommendations.
As part of the land transfer, the District holds
a conservation easement that generally limits park activities to protect natural
resources. Compatible recreational and educational uses and grazing are allowed.
The District also holds a recreation covenant that ensures the county provide
public access to the property in perpetuity.
“This project began more than 10 years ago with a vision to
protect one of the most prominent landscapes in Sonoma County, and now we have
a spectacular backcountry trail that stretches across Sonoma Mountain for
residents and visitors to enjoy,” said District General Manager Bill Keene. “A
project of this scale would not have succeeded without the incredible
collaboration of all the partners involved, and the District is proud to have
been a part of it.”
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