Taylor Mountain Regional Park opens to public

February 21, 2013 in News

The 1,100-acre Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve in southeast Santa Rosa opens to the public starting Saturday, Feb. 23. Visitors will no longer need permits to use the property, and the entrance on Kawana Terrace will be open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset.

A prominent Sonoma County landmark, Taylor Mountain offers sweeping views of Santa Rosa. From the park and preserve’s highest point of approximately 1,300 feet, visitors can see the Santa Rosa Plain, the Coast Range, Rincon and Bennett valleys, and the Mayacamas Mountains. The park also features oak forests, grasslands and wetlands and is home to grazing cattle and a variety of wildlife.

Taylor Mountain consists of five contiguous parcels acquired by the Open Space District between 1995 and 2011 with funding from a voter-approved sales tax. Since 2010, the public has had limited use of Taylor Mountain through an interim-access program provided by the District and coordinated by the nonprofit conservation group LandPaths. Those who attended a free orientation received a permit to use the property for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, acting concurrently as directors of the Open Space District, transferred the title of the land to Regional Parks earlier this month, and with this weekend’s opening, permits are no longer needed. 

The park’s interim entrance is on Kawana Terrace, off of Kawana Springs Road just east of Petaluma Hill Road. Sonoma County Regional Park rangers will be at the park throughout the opening weekend to acquaint visitors with the property. Parking will be free for Regional Park members and $7 for non-members. Well-behaved dogs on leash will be allowed on trails.

Existing trails are limited to pedestrians only during the winter, and one or both routes can temporarily close because of wet conditions. Cattle grazing will continue at the park after it opens, in keeping with the property’s agricultural history and resource management goals.

The site now has 4 miles of dirt trails along two routes, one of which leads up the mountain. A recently completed park master plan suggests the eventual development of 17 miles of primarily multi-use trails along with picnic areas, a visitor center and cafe, walk-in camp sites, an outdoor classroom, demonstration gardens, and a small inn closer to its urban boundaries.

Regional Parks will begin construction of the park’s first phase along Petaluma Hill Road this summer. Work will include trails, a natural play course, picnic sites, restrooms and equestrian facilities, which will be accessed from a parking lot to be constructed south of Yolanda Avenue. The work is funded by a $750,000 state grant and completion is expected by summer of 2014. Additional trails and features will be added to the park as funding becomes available.

For more information, visit sonomacountyparks.org or call 707-565-2041.

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