Additions are part of larger reinvestment project completed over three years
Santa Rosa, CA – December 14, 2021 – Fans of Helen Putnam Regional Park in Petaluma have more to celebrate with this month's opening of a new entrance and multi-use trail on the north side of the park. The 31-space parking lot on Windsor Drive is 1 mile closer to downtown than the parks southern entrance on Chileno Valley Road and gives visitors access to the new West Wind Trail.
The .9-mile trail winds uphill from the recently completed parking area to the Pomo and Filaree trails in the park interior. The trail’s design avoids steep grades, increasing accessibility for visitors of all fitness levels, and highlights sweeping views of Petaluma and the surrounding landscapes.
The parking lot and trail are the latest projects completed as part of a comprehensive renovation of the 256-acre park over the past several years. Initiated with community donations, work on the 40-year-old park began in 2017 with the goal of improving all-season trail access, enhancing trailheads, updating trail signs, adding parking spaces, and supporting the regeneration of native plants and oaks.
"Petalumans are fortunate to have Helen Putnam Regional Park on their doorsteps. That was never more evident than when the pandemic hit and the park was bursting with visitors," said Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, whose 2nd District includes Petaluma.Im grateful we dedicated the necessary resources to improve this invaluable community asset. Adding a second park entrance and parking area will make it easier for more people in our community to enjoy the park.”
Totaling more than $500,000, the park improvements stemmed from an anonymous donor’s $50,000 challenge grant to the nonprofit Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation for Helen Putnam. Parks Foundation supporters then matched the gift, and with that initial $100,000, Regional Parks was able to obtain an additional $300,000 in state and federal grants and source another $100,000 from the county’s Measure M parks sales tax revenue, park mitigation fees and other funds. The nonprofit Bay Area Barns and Trails, which awards grants for equestrian projects, helped fund the expanded equestrian parking and contributed to the trail improvements.
“We are deeply grateful to our original challenge grant donor and the hundreds of local park lovers who responded enthusiastically to this need,” said Melissa Kelley, executive director of the Parks Foundation. “Their contributions were leveraged threefold, tripling the impact of these local gifts. Many of these supporters hike, bike and ride horses at the park, and I’m so glad they can experience the exceptional improvements they made possible.”
The renovations included repairs and drainage upgrades on about 4.5 miles of the park’s 6 miles of trails. One of the fixes was the reroute of the prominent Panorama Trail, which climbed sharply from the Chileno Valley Road entrance to a popular viewpoint. A straight-up ascent, the trail had eroded to 60 feet wide in places. It has been replaced with two alternative routes: one a meandering traverse of the hillside that provides greater access to the viewpoint, and the other a 121-step staircase for those who prefer a more aerobic hike.
Other updates at the Chileno Valley Road entrance include a new ADA-accessible pathway, and accessibility improvements to the restroom.
At Cattail Pond, non-sanctioned trails were decommissioned and nearly 500 native plants were planted with help from Spring Hill middle school students. An accessible fishing area is scheduled for completion in 2022, along with the installation of new interpretive signs.
All projects were completed with hours of volunteer labor and community workdays coordinated by the Redwood Trails Alliance, in addition to contracted labor and work by the Regional Parks Youth Crew and Conservation Corps North Bay.
“We offer a big thank you to the community for its collaboration and support,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker. “We hope you all are as happy as we are to throw open the gate to the new and improved Helen Putnam Regional Park. Our focus has been not only on expanding recreational access but also on enhancing natural resources and providing educational opportunities. We are proud to improve and steward this park for future generations.”
Helen Putnam Regional Park is located at 411 Chileno Valley Road (south entrance) and 373 Windsor Drive (north entrance). For more details and a park map, visit parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Visit/Helen-Putnam-Regional-Park/. Parking is $7 or free for Regional Parks members.
EDITORS: Find photos of the improvements here. Please use "Courtesy of Sonoma County Parks" as a photo credit where appropriate. Higher resolution available upon request. View a video about the Helen Putnam improvements here.
Sarah Phelps, Marketing Specialist
Sonoma County Regional Parks
Sonoma County Regional Parks preserves irreplaceable natural and cultural resources, and offers opportunities for recreation and education that enhance the quality of life and well-being of Sonoma County's residents and visitors. Learn more at SonomaCountyParks.org.