Hiking

Hiking and walking are by far the most popular activities in the Regional Parks. With more than 140 miles of trails leading to beaches, mountains, forests, meadows and lakes, it's easy to discover why Sonoma County is so special. We have trails for all types of adventurers, from paved paths for easy walks to wilderness trails for more strenuous treks.

Our activities calendar lists all of our upcoming guided hikes. To hike on your own, visit our Find a Park page and search for parks with trails, then go to the individual park pages to view or print trail maps. 

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

Easy trails

A few of our favorite easy trails are in Sonoma Valley, Crane Creek, Riverfront, Spring Lake and Foothill regional parks as well as our new Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail. We consider easy trails to be under 3 miles and relatively flat, with plenty of room to walk side by side with a companion. These trails are good for people starting a fitness routine, families with children or anyone interested in a not-too-strenuous outing.

Moderate trails

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

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 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.

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:

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. 

  • Nov. 30 - 'Work off your Turkey' Hike, East Ridge, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • 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.

Sonoma County Regional Parks Trails Challenge

Hike, Bike or Ride!

Trails Challenge 2014

You're invited to explore the Regional Parks by hiking, biking or riding your horse along five or more trails between June and November.

Get your free PDF fileTrails Challenge guidebook (22.36 MB) for the list of parks and plan your hikes!


 

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