Four Great Sonoma Hikes
Despite acclaim for its wine and food, Sonoma remains the trail-lined farmland and wilderness that I hiked with my family as a kid. For those more interested in wining and dining, never fear, there are plenty of winery hikes for those wary of straying far from their glasses. Here are four great hikes in Sonoma where you can earn your indulgences and explore the land that gives rise to such fantastic vines.
Kunde Vineyards hikes and sustainable tours are much more than quick walks in the vineyards. Starting at the valley floor and climbing 1400 feet into the Mayacamas Mountain Range, this moderately strenuous hike requires reservations, boots, and a sack lunch. You’ll learn about vineyards, sustainable farming, geography, and history, and of course, taste wine along the way. Kunde offers a variety of outdoor hikes and excursions, including a dog-friendly hike that supports the Sonoma County Humane Society and even vineyard horseback riding (reserve ahead).
Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve boasts the tallest peak in the Southern Mayacamas Mountain Range and is home to favorite hikes like Pythian Road and Goodspeed Trail (to Gunsight Rock). Most trails are recommended for adventurers in good condition. You can expect breathtaking vistas, creeks, wildflowers and meadows while traversing the 1,750 acres of wilderness. Wine lovers don’t fret; there are wineries nearby and St. Francis Winery and Vineyards is directly at the base of Hood Mountain. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge from Gunsight Rock (pictured above) and Valley View Trail. More information here.
When I asked Sonoma locals for their favorites, the 5000+ acres of Annadel St. Park were almost always at the top of the list. Known for wildflowers (especially in April and May), this vast area offers miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and fishing at Lake Ilsanjo (above). Megan Schofield, of Simi Winery, recommends Canyon and Richardson trails, but most agree that you can’t really go wrong. Whatever you choose, do it soon and spread the word, as Annadel and Jack London State Parks have appeared recently on potential closure lists.
The Sonoma Coast covers a vast area and can be quite a drive from what most consider the Sonoma Wine Country, but is well worth a day or weekend trip. Some recommendations are Kortum Trail, which traces the bluffs of the Sonoma Coast from Wright Beach to Blind Beach for about four miles (expect wind) and Bodega Head, a modest loop where you just might see humpback whales. There are also some great hikes in Pt. Reyes and beaches like Doran that are perfect for families and casual strolls. More info here.
There are far too many great parks and hikes (like Sugarloaf) to mention here, so please chime in with your favorites.