Before you set out to hike Bartholomew Park, a decision must be made: taste first, hike later, or hike first, taste later. Personally, we're partial to a taste, hike, taste again combo, but however you arrange your day at Sonoma's Bartholomew Park, prepare your senses for a nature and vino overload.
Founded in 1994 by the Bundschu family (who own California's oldest family winery, nearby Gundlach Bundschu) Bartholomew Park produces handcrafted, site-specific wines. Spend your time post-hike in their tasting room. Well behaved dogs on leash are also welcome.
What You'll See
A restored villa, originally built in 1861 by Count Agoston Haraszthy (considered to be the "father of California viticulture" and the founder of nearby Buena Vista Winery), is surrounded by manicured grounds and sweeping views of the Sonoma Valley. Picnic tables are scattered about for post-hike picnics. On the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains you'll find majestic, second-growth redwood groves, a hidden pond, and some surprisingly challenging trails.
How to Get There
As you probably already know, Sonoma is about an hour drive north of San Francisco.
- Take Hwy. 101 north to Hwy. 37.
- At Sears Point head towards Sonoma on Hwy 121.
- When 121 meets 12 at a stoplight, turn left into Sonoma and continue on Broadway (Hwy. 12) until you reach the town plaza.
- Turn right on East Napa St. then turn left on 7th St. East.
- At Lovall Valley Rd. turn right but bear left onto Castle Rd.
- Proceed to the end and pass through the gates of Bartholomew Park.
Park either to left of the Villa or proceed further to the winery tasting room. Entrance hours are 10am-4:30pm, the park is open until 6pm.
At just 2.5 miles, the hike isn't long (although there are other trails to extend it), but it's the 450 feet of elevation that makes it challenging. Good hiking shoes are a must; leave the flip-flops and sandals for après le trek.
1. From the Villa parking lot head west through the vineyards, past the duck pond, to the North gate Trailhead.
2. A few steps later head left on the Grape Stomp Trail and begin climbing. Soon you'll encounter log steps to assist you. As you ascend you'll discover oak woodland that gives way to ferns, redwoods and cooler temps (a welcome relief on hotter days).
An avid trail user at Bartholomew-Park.(Chas Blackford)
3. At about the halfway point, you'll cross a paved road and begin another short climb that then descends down to the hidden pond, known as Benica's Lake.
4. A short distance after leaving the pond you'll come to a fork. Take the Angels Flight to the right and soon the trail widens and the forest gives way to chaparral and scrub. The trail gets a bit tricky here, especially if you take in the views of the Mt. Diablo way off in the distance.
5. At the intersection, head right to return to the Villa (going left will swing you up and back to the beginning of the Angel's Flight).
The Pavillion at Bartholomew-Park-(Chas Blackford)
6. Passing through a couple of gates, the trail enters a dense thicket above a hidden creek—you'll catch fleeting views of nearby Buena Vista Winery. As you pass through the last gate you'll come upon a lovely grassy area with a small pavilion showcasing historical displays from when the park was an industrial farm for wayward women back in the 1920s.
Map of Sonoma's Bartholomew Park(via Strava.com)// www.bartpark.com/