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Sonoma County Regional Parks: News & Updates

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Sonoma County Regional Parks: News & Updates

by Caryl Hart, Director, Sonoma County Regional Parks

This column is to bring everyone up to speed on all the things going on in Sonoma County’s Regional Parks. As anyone who lives here or visits will tell you, Sonoma County is home to some of the most beautiful and unique natural areas in the world. Here at Regional Parks, our mission is to preserve our irreplaceable natural resources and enhance the quality of life and well-being of residents and visitors. 

We always have a lot going on so we thought it would be great to give Gazette readers a special preview of the “best of the best.” Of course, we really recommend you check out our website at sonomacountyparks.org for the most up to date info and to become a park member and get a free night’s camping and parking at all the regional parks for a year.

One of my favorite things is to announce a new park, so I’m thrilled to tell you that North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve is opening any day now. As this column goes to press, we anticipate having the park open by the end of February. (The entrance is about 5 miles southeast of Santa Rosa, off of Sonoma Mountain Road. We’ll have directions and more details on our website soon.)

Sonoma Mountain is a defining feature in the county, and this project lets us expand the public’s access to and understanding of the iconic mountain. At the park, you’ll be able to hike the 4.25-mile Ridge Trail, which winds up the northern slope to the western boundary of Jack London State Historic Park. You’ll see forests of oaks, bay, buckeye, and redwoods, numerous creeks, meadows of bunch grass, and gorgeous views of the Sonoma Valley, Santa Rosa Plain and surrounding peaks. When you reach Jack London, you can continue hiking into that park for a full-day experience.

North Sonoma Mountain’s Ridge Trail is a piece of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, a regional effort to create a continuous 550-mile trail along the ridgelines overlooking San Francisco Bay. We’re so happy to be a part of this connectivity. In fact, all of North Sonoma Mountain’s 738 acres are an example of what we accomplish through vision, planning and collaboration. The parkland comes to us from our partners at the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, which purchased five of the six parcels with revenue from its voter-approved sales tax.

Meanwhile, we’re working on a new entrance and trailhead for Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve in southwest Santa Rosa. This is the first part of a larger master plan to add new features to the park. The new entrance is along Petaluma Hill Road south of Yolanda Avenue and will have ample parking (including room for horse trailers), restrooms, picnic areas and a trail being built by volunteers with the Sonoma County Trails Council. We hope to celebrate the opening this spring, but our progress depends on the weather.

We are also working on an exciting project called the Sonoma County Integrated Parks Plan – a vision of how Regional Parks can better integrate existing and planned outdoor recreation facilities, trails and open space lands with the local economy. The plan takes a look at each individual park and how we can provide the best experience for the public while optimizing natural resource preservation.  We’ve been taking lots of public input and look forward to bringing the plan to the Board of Supervisors in the next couple of months.

You can read more about the Sonoma County Integrated Parks Plan and our other ongoing projects on the Planning Updates section of sonomacountyparks.org. (Look for the link at the bottom of our home page.)

See you in the parks!