Hiking

Hiking and walking are by far the most popular activities in Sonoma County's Regional Parks. 

With more than 140 miles of trails leading to beaches, mountains, forests, lakes, and meadows, it's easy to discover the beauty of Sonoma County and the benefits of time spent in nature. Hiking helps us stay fit, brings us peace of mind, lets us spend time alone or with loved ones - including our dogs - and reconnects us with nature. 

From paved paths for easy walks to remote routes for strenuous treks, we have trails for all types of explorers, and we have destinations as spectacular as the Sonoma Valley, the Russian River and the Sonoma Coast. Whether your time on the trail is a few hours, a full day, or the entire night, you'll find a new adventure in the Regional Parks.

Join us on one of our guided hikes listed on our activities calendar or hike on your own by visiting our Find a Park page and browsing the parks with trails. Maps are available for printing or downloading from the individual park pages. 

Easy trails

A few of our favorite easy trails are at Sonoma Valley, Crane Creek, Riverfront, Spring Lake, Ragle Ranch, and Gualala Point regional parks as well as the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Santa Rosa Creek trails. We consider easy trails to be under 3 miles and relatively flat, with plenty of room to walk side by side with a companion. Many of these trails are fully or partially paved and are perfect for walking routines, families with children, and anyone who wants to enjoy nature at a gentle pace.

Moderate trails

For hikes requiring a little more effort, we like Taylor Mountain, Helen Putnam, Tolay Lake, Foothill, and Shiloh regional parks and the Pinnacle and Shorttail Gulch coastal access trails. We consider moderate-level trails to be 3 to 5 miles long with uneven surfaces and elevation gains. Many moderate-level hikes can be created by walking several of the shorter looped trails within the parks.

Challenging trails

Hood Mountain Regional Park features our most challenging trails. The park's trail system totals 19 miles and includes an elevation gain of more than 1,000 feet. The payoff is a jaw-dropping view of Sonoma Valley. Shiloh Ranch also offers challenging hikes in its trail loops, and the climb to the very top of Taylor Mountain is a fairly strenuous endeavor. Challenging trails are those that are 5 miles or longer or feature steep climbs or rugged terrain. These hikes are for experienced hikers in good physical condition.

Remember, dogs on leash are allowed on all trails except those in Shiloh Ranch Regional Park.

Naturally Fit Walks

We've launched a new series of Naturally Fit walks with the Sonoma County Family YMCA. Led by walking blogger Lynn Millar, these free, easy-paced outings are perfect for new hikers and folks interested in learning more about the plants, wildlife, and history of the parks. Hikes are scheduled 10 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of each month. Upcoming walks include:

  •  Jan. 10 - Spring Lake

Tolay Lake Hikes

Rangers at Tolay Lake Regional Park lead regular hikes through this special park in the hills east of Petaluma. Tolay is rich in cultural resources, having been inhabited by American Indians, California pioneers, immigrant farmers and present-day ranchers. As we develop a master plan for this park, public access is limited to these guided hikes or to those who attend a free one-hour orientation at the park and obtain a use permit. 

  • Dec. 21 - 'First Day of Winter' Hike, East Ridge, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Staying Healthy and Safe on Trails

  • Wear sturdy shoes. Dessing in layers is best because Sonoma County has many microclimates. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and pack a hat and sunglasses. 
  • Bring water for everyone in your party and a high-energy snack or lunch, depending on the length of your hike. If you're hiking with your dog, be sure you have water for him. 
  • Hike with a companion, if possible. If not, be sure to let someone know where you plan to hike and when you expect to return.
  • Stay on marked trails at all times.
  • Carry your cell phone and a map of the park.
  • When you complete your hike, check yourself and your dog for ticks.

Hiking Sonoma

Check out our trails

Watch Ranger Jesse Cablk as he highlights some of our most popular parks and trails:

Hiking in Sonoma County

Wanna backpack?

Hood Mountain Regional Park has four hike-in campsites where you can find your wild side. Book a spot

Backpack and hiking boots  

Challenge Yourself

Our 2014 Trails Challenge is finished, but you're invited to download the PDF filefree trails guidebook (22.36 MB) for use year-round. Meanwhile, we're planning another Trails Challenge for spring 2015!

Sonoma County Regional Parks Trails Challenge

 

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