Construction for the Lower Johnson Ridge Trail Project at Hood Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve is now complete. The construction project realigns a one-third of a mile section of trail that was previously on a steep access road within the park. The trail was relocated onto the slopes of the canyon below the road, and constructed as an un-paved path, four to five feet wide. The steep slopes and rugged terrain of this trail section required the construction of several switchbacks and retaining walls in order to minimize trail slope. Addressing the steepness of the trail was important for reducing future trail maintenance and to make the trail accessible to a larger group of trail users. County maintenance staff also implemented stormwater runoff enhancements. Community volunteer groups pitched in, installing a bench, erosion control measures, and invasive plant removal along the road to improve sightlines.
In 2009, State Parks’ Recreational Trails Program funding was awarded to construct a separated third of a mile section of trail for one of the steepest sections of the Bay Area Ridge Trail at Hood Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve. This stretch of trail also shared the park driveway. The steep grade and private vehicular traffic on the roadway limited a variety of user types, and virtually eliminated use by equestrians. This project constructed 1,888 linear feet of trail, including walls, trail signage, road markers, and a bench. The Lower Johnson Ridge Trail provides safe and user-friendly access to stunning views on the former Johnson property that is now a part of Hood Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve.
Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve is home to 1,947 acres of rugged terrain. A ten-minute drive from Santa Rosa, this park offers hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians many trails that wind through oak woodlands, pine forests, and the headwaters of Santa Rosa Creek. Established in 1967, this park has a loyal brigade of volunteers who support park development and maintenance and host interpretive walks to raise awareness of the park and its unique ecology.
In 2003, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District purchased the 300-acre Johnson Ranch adjacent to Hood Mountain Regional Park. The property is characterized by moderate to steep terrain with meadows, oak woodland, Madrone, mixed conifer forest, chaparral, several creeks, and two large ponds. Elevations range from 1,200 feet in the southwest to 2,000 feet in the north.
In 2005 and 2006, a new park driveway connecting Pythian Road and a trailhead were constructed using State Parks propositions 12 and 40 per capita funds. A grant from the State Coastal Conservancy and the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, local funds, and volunteers were used to construct 5 miles of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, connecting to the new trailhead.