North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve

5297 Sonoma Mountain Road, Santa Rosa

  • Accessible areas
  • Biking
  • Birding
  • Equestrian Trails
  • Hiking/Walking Trails
  • Picnic Facilities

Hours: 7 a.m. to sunset.

Parking: $7 or free for Regional Parks members. (The parking fee can be paid by cash or check only at this time.) The park entrance is along Sonoma Mountain Road just east of Pressley Road.

Dogs: Dogs are not permitted on trails at this time.

Accessibility: Several accessible parking spaces are available, including one located near a vista point. The first 800 feet of the Ridge Trail are wheelchair accessible. The trail segment leads to a creekside picnic area in the redwoods.

Ranger phone: (707) 539-8092

North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve is the newest addition to Sonoma County's park system. The 820-acre park offers sweeping views of the county and beyond and includes a 4-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail connection to Jack London State Historic Park.

Sonoma Mountain is a defining landform in the county, and this park provides the first public access to the mountain's north slope. The park's Ridge Trail begins in the ferns and redwoods on the south fork of Matanzas Creek, then climbs to nearly 2,000 feet. It winds through forests of oaks and bay laurels and treats hikers to stunning views of the peaks surrounding Santa Rosa and Sonoma Valley. (See a slideshow of trail photos.)

Additional trails include a wheelchair-accessible vista point above the park entrance and the Umbrella Tree Trail, a 1-mile trail to a majestic bay tree and a picnic table with views of Santa Rosa and Bennett Valley. Other picnic options include two creekside tables in the redwoods near the Ridge Trail foot bridge.

All trails are open to hikers, bikers and equestrians, though bikes on the Ridge Trail are limited to the first 2 miles. We  suggest equestrians first visit without their horse trailers so they can acquaint themselves with the park entrance.

Note: The park does not have a drinking fountain at this time, so please bring your own water.

North Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail

Length:3.8-miles one way

Hiking Time:About three hours one-way at a moderate pace

Difficulty:Moderate to strenuous

The North Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail is a nearly 4-mile trail that climbs to nearly 2,000 feet and the western boundary of Jack London State Historic Park.This trail appeals to hikers seeking a moderate to strenuous outing. Hikers wanting an easier walk can return at any point before reaching Jack London.

The trail begins near a grove of towering coast redwoods and a foot bridge over the south fork of Matanzas Creek. It then crosses open fields and winds up the mountain's north slope, through stands of oaks and bay laurels and meadows of native bunchgrass. Most of the trail is forested, and some sections open to stunning views of the Santa Rosa Plain, Bennett Valley and Sonoma Valley. Hikers are treated to 180-degree views of Taylor and Bennett mountains, Mt. Saint Helena, Hood Mountain, Sugarloaf Ridge and other North Bay peaks. Winter and spring hikers will see vernal pools and colorful wildflowers. At the connection with Jack London, ambitious hikers can continue into the state park and explore its 26-mile trail network.

The trail is a piece of the larger Bay Area Ridge Trail, an evolving effort to create 550 miles of continuous public trail ringing San Francisco Bay. Segments of the Bay Area Ridge Trail also are located within Jack London, including a new 1.2-mile section on the mountain's east slope. With the opening of North Sonoma Mountain, there are now about 9 miles of Bay Area Ridge Trail on the mountain.

Umbrella Tree Trail

Length:1-mile one way

Hiking Time:One hour

Difficulty:Moderate to strenuous

The Umbrella Tree Trail is a steady climb of about 1 mile to a giant California bay tree and gorgeous views. The trail begins near the accessible parking area above the ranger residence and follows a former ranch road that winds through forests of oaks and bays.

Most of the climb is shaded by woods, but the last section opens to expansive grasslands. Hikers will find the enormous Umbrella Tree standing sentinel at the edge of the mountain, at an elevation of about 1,500 feet. To the west are uninterrupted views of Santa Rosa, to the north are sweeping views of Bennett Valley, and adjacent to the tree is a lone picnic table perfect for taking in the sights.

The entrance to North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve is about 5 miles southeast of Santa Rosa. With its peak rising nearly 2,300 feet, Sonoma Mountain is a defining feature of central Sonoma County. The east side of the mountain is the backdrop for Sonoma Valley and the west side rises along Highway 101 between Santa Rosa and Petaluma. The mountain is about equal distance from Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, and Sonoma. It is one of several high points in the range known as the Sonoma Mountains, with the others being Taylor Mountain, Bennett Peak, the east ridge of Tolay Lake Regional Park, and Cougar Mountain. 

The park includes the headwaters to 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. The park supports the Sonoma Valley wildlife corridor, providing habitat for mountain lions, bobcats, golden eagles, western pond turtles and other animals. 

Acquisition

North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve is comprised of six properties, five of which were acquired by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District over the past decade and transferred to Regional Parks last year by the Board of Supervisors. The parkland stretches from south of Bennett Valley to the western boundary of Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen.

Before the transfer, the District and Regional Parks collaborated with California State Parks, the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and the California State Coastal Conservancy to build a 4.25-mile Ridge Trail section across the mountain's north slope and into Jack London State Historic Park.

T he 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.

Planning

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.

Trails Challenge

PDF fileView larger image of North Sonoma Mountain Trails Challenge Map
North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve
5297 Sonoma Mountain Road, Santa Rosa

This park is featured in the Sonoma County Trails Challenge , which invites you to get out and get active by hiking five of 15 routes highlighted in the new Trails Challenge updated guidebook. Submit a trails log when you finish all five hikes and get a free Trails Challenge gift!

Suggested trail loop: North Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail
Loop length: 3.7 miles one way
Degree of difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous
Elevation Gain: 1,043 feet, maximum 2,097 feet

Trails symbols for walk, hike, run, cyclists and equestrians

Park Notes

  • North Sonoma Mountain is the newest regional park, open since 2015. It features a 3.7-mile segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail connecting to Jack London State Historic Park. With its peak rising to 2,300 feet, Sonoma Mountain is a defining landmark in Sonoma County.
  • Comprised of former ranchland, the park provides the first public access to the north side of Sonoma Mountain and offers sweeping views of the central county and Sonoma Valley.
  • The parking area has a restroom but no drinking water. Dogs are not allowed on trails. Bikes are allowed on the first 2 miles of the Ridge Trail.

Trail Notes

  • The Ridge Trail climbs to nearly 2,000 feet and connects to the western boundary of Jack London State Historic Park.
  • The trail begins near a grove of coast redwoods and a foot bridge over the south fork of Matanzas Creek. It crosses open fields with lower-elevation views of Bennett Peak and Bennett Valley and ascends the mountain under canopies of oaks and bay trees. Native bunchgrasses grow on the hillsides.
  • At about 2 miles, the trail emerges from the woods to 1,500-foot views of the Santa Rosa Plain, Bennett Valley, Sonoma Valley, Mount St. Helena, Hood Mountain, and Sugarloaf Ridge.
  • From this overlook, the trail climbs another 1.7 miles to Jack London Park. Here, you can continue on the state park’s extensive trail network or head back along the Ridge Trail, enjoying a second look at the landscape and views. (If you continue into Jack London, it is another 4 miles one way to that park’s main entrance.) 

Trail Directions

  • From the parking lot, follow the crushed gravel path behind the restroom. (For the Ridge Trail, do not follow the road above the ranger residence. That road leads to the Umbrella Tree Trail, another great hike for another day.)
  • The Ridge Trail begins in a tunnel of bay trees above the south fork of Matanzas Creek.
  • You’ll soon see two picnic tables and a footbridge over the creek. Cross the bridge and follow the trail up the mountain to its connection with Jack London State Park.

This trail feeds into Jack London State Park

Up for hiking from North Sonoma Mountain through Jack London State Park? For the month of June, Regional Parks members and Jack London pass holders can park for free at either park.

Driving Directions

  • The park entrance is about 5 miles southeast of Santa Rosa. From Highway 101 in Santa Rosa, take Highway 12 east. Turn right on Farmers Lane, then left on Bennett alley Road. Stay on Bennett Valley Road for just under 5 miles and turn right onto Sonoma Mountain Road. Continue on Sonoma Mountain Road beyond Pressley Road. The park entrance will be on your right. Parking is $7 or free for Regional Parks members.

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Download the free 2016 Trails Challenge guidebook, hike 5 or more trails & win prizes! 

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Trails at a Glance 

PDF filePark Map (908 kB) (PDF)

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