The Ultimate Sunday Hike: Sonoma Valley Regional Park & Suttonfield Lake
Looking for a delightful winter hike in the woods? One you can do in the rain, without muddying up the hiking shoes? Then take the time to head up to the upper end of the Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon to Sonoma Valley Regional Park. Nestled between Highway 12 and Arnold Drive, just south of Glen Elen, this is the hidden jewel of North Bay parks.
What makes this a great winter hike is the paved, ADA-accessible main trail that bisects the park from either access point (Sonoma Hwy and Arnold Drive). Meandering between parallel ridges, the even-surfaced trail exudes a serenity that belies its close proximity to a busy highway. The surrounding hills are prototypical California oak woodland, with the lichen and moss entrusted trees making a rainy day here seem almost magically Tolkien.
The main entrance is just off Highway 12 (at 13,630 Sonoma Hwy), with the paved trail leading directly out of the parking lot (green dot on map below). The trail extends for 1.2 miles until it reaches Arnold Drive and makes for a fine walk in and out no matter what the weather (although an August afternoon here can be very hot). There are plenty of side trails (none of which are paved) for further exploring and one of the most interesting diversions can be the 1.5-mile stroll around Suttonfield Lake. Restrooms and water are available at the main entrance parking lot, leashed dogs are welcome, and bikes are also allowed. There is a $7 parking fee, limited but free parking at the Arnold Dr. entrance; more information at Sonoma County Regional Parks.