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Mountain biking at Helen Putnam Regional Park

A guide to mountain biking in Sonoma County parks

Sonoma County is one of Northern California's top mountain biking destinations, boasting an array of top-notch trails within its vast network of regional and state parks. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned mountain biker, there's a trail for everyone. From the gentler trails of Helen Putnam Regional Park to the challenging climbs of Hood Mountain, Sonoma County offers diverse terrain for all skill levels. Foothill Regional Park boasts scenic views and moderate trails, while Trione-Annadel State Park offers rugged terrain for the more experienced bikers. Here are some top picks to kickstart your adventure. 

Helen Putnam Regional Park

two mountain bikers ride through green grass and oaks at Helen Putnam Regional Park

Although it’s near downtown Petaluma, the rolling hills and panoramic views at Helen Putnam Regional Park will make you think you’ve left civilization far behind. Six miles of mostly gentle multi-use trails make Putnam a great place for beginner or rusty mountain bikers looking to build confidence and skill. For gradual climbs up swooping switchbacks, start at the Westwind Drive trailhead. For a more mellow start on dirt, or to stick to a mostly paved trail, start at the Chileno Valley Road trailhead. Some trails can be exposed, so the ideal season to mountain bike at Helen Putnam is in late spring when winter rains are done, the hills are greenest, and daytime temps are moderate. Note that during the rainy season, Helen Putnam’s dirt trails may close to cyclists and equestrians. 

Foothill Regional Park

single track trail through oak woodlands

This compact 211-acre park in northeast Windsor is known for its three picturesque fishing lakes, oak-covered hills, and exuberant springtime displays of wildflowers. For mountain bikers, the park contains close to 7 miles of multi-use trails that vary from the challenging climb up Alta Vista Trail to the easy rolls along Three Lakes Trail. Remember that, as on all regional parks multi-use trails, all users yield to those traveling uphill or using a wheelchair; bicyclists yield to hikers and horses, and hikers yield to horses. 

Shiloh Ranch Regional Park

bench and view at Shiloh Ranch Regional Park

Shiloh Ranch Regional Park in east Windsor offers expansive views of Santa Rosa plains and coastal mountains. With nearly 8 miles of multi-use dirt trails, it's perfect for mountain bikers who enjoy challenging climbs and rugged terrain. The park features diverse ecosystems, including forests, oak groves, grasslands, creeks, and ponds. Start your adventure from the main trailhead parking lot, where the Creekside Trail provides a scenic route alongside a seasonal creek to the park's pond. Note: During the rainy season, Creekside Trail is closed to cyclists and equestrians. Opt for North Ridge Trail or Big Leaf from the main parking lot, but be prepared for sustained climbing.  

Spring Lake Regional Park to Trione-Annadel State Park

 mountain biker rides down trail at Spring Lake Regional Park

Located in eastern Santa Rosa, adjacent to Spring Lake Regional Park, Trione-Annadel State Park offers some of Sonoma County’s finest mountain biking trails. More than 40 miles of trails take you up steep climbs and down sharp descents while traversing beautiful forests, oak woodlands and grasslands. Trione-Annadel is so popular with mountain bikers that it has its own Meetup group and many organized group rides from nearby bike shops which you are welcome to join. The state park has multiple entry points, but Regional Park members get free parking at Spring Lake, making it a convenient starting point. Spring Lake Regional Park has two entrances, but we recommend beginning your adventure from the Newanga Road side (park near the Oak Knolls picnic area), and follow the gravel Bay Area Ridge Trail, which soon turns to dirt once you hit the state park.  

Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve

 mountain biker stands at viewpoint on top of Hood Mountain

Photo courtesy of @rocksinwater

With nearly 2,000 acres on the northern end of Sonoma Valley, Hood Mountain offers miles of rugged multi-use trails that run along creeks, through grasslands, into forests, and burly climbs that reward with epic views of Sonoma Valley, San Pablo Bay and beyond. A mountain bike ride here provides a challenging, strength-training workout for the intermediate and advanced mountain biker. Trails can be exposed on the ridgelines; bring plenty of water. We recommend starting your ride from the Pythian Road parking lot which, although it still includes a steep climb out of the canyon on the Lower Johnson Ridge Trail, has more enjoyable grades and switchbacks than the Hood Mountain Trail start from the Los Alamos parking lot. From the Lower Johnson Ridge Trail, the Lawson Trail provides a nice climb through Hood’s pygmy cypress forest (in recovery from the 2017 and 2020 wildfires), or take the Hood Mountain Trail for a climb to the 2,730-foot summit. Note that only hikers can continue to the famed panoramic views at Gunsight Rock overlook, but views are still aplenty at the summit. 

Know before you go

  • Parking at the regional parks is $7 or free for Sonoma County Regional Parks members. 
  • Trail courtesy: All users yield to those traveling uphill or using a wheelchair; bicyclists yield to hikers and horses, and hikers yield to horses. 
  • Bicycles must follow posted speed limits. Bicycle helmets are required for riders under 18 years of age. E-Bike riders must adhere to the same trail rules as conventional bicycle riders. Learn more about Bike Policies.
  • For more parks with mountain biking trails, visit our Find a Park page. 
Published May 2024