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Taylor Mountain Trails Project gets $1.7 million grant


Taylor Mountain Trails Project gets $1.7 million grant

Grant Will Pay for 8 Miles of New Trails at the Santa Rosa Park and Preserve

Sonoma County Regional Parks anticipates receiving a $1.7 million grant to build 8 miles of trails at Taylor Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve in Santa Rosa. The trail expansion will offer the first public access to the northeast section of the 1,100-acre park and will be one of Sonoma County’s single-largest trail projects.

Regional Parks learned in December that its application for the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program will be recommended for funding in late 2016. Trail construction could begin in early 2017 and continue through 2018. 

“This recommendation is a significant achievement,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart. “The funding is crucial to fulfilling the community’s vision for a larger trail network at Taylor Mountain, and we’re pleased our state and federal partners recognize the potential.”

As suggested in the park’s master plan, the multi-use trails will be built as stacked loops that lead visitors through oak woodlands, across ridges with sweeping views of Santa Rosa and Bennett Valley, over the headwaters of Colgan and Cooper creeks, and past the site of a historic hot springs resort. Trailheads on Kawana Terrace, Linwood Avenue and Panorama Drive will make it easier for southeast Santa Rosa residents to walk or bike to the park.

“This funding will create a tremendous health resource for our community,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane, whose 3rd District includes much of the park. “Last summer, we added a Petaluma Hill Road entrance that improves access for residents of Rohnert Park and the south county.  Now, we can build trails and neighborhood connections that make Taylor Mountain even more accessible.”

“Taylor Mountain is a wonderful example of how we can provide opportunities to play and learn in protected landscapes,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin, whose 1st District takes in northern and eastern sections of the park. “Most of Taylor Mountain will be open to the public when these trails are built, yet the land will remain an important agricultural resource and urban buffer.”

The grant award is contingent upon Congress reauthorizing funding for the Recreational Trails Program later this year. Once that occurs, California State Parks intends to administer the $1.7 million grant to Regional Parks sometime after Oct. 1. Regional Parks must contribute $316,000 in matching funds. The match will include $80,000 from the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation, $25,000 in maintenance funds, $20,000 in mitigation fees, $7,000 from the Sonoma County Trails Council, and $184,000 worth of volunteer labor, donated materials and in-kind equipment and services.

Rising to 1,400 feet, Taylor Mountain is a Santa Rosa landmark. The properties comprising the park and preserve were purchased by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District and deeded to Sonoma County Regional Parks. The park opened in 2013 with an entrance off of Kawana Springs Road and 4 miles of trails. A second entrance and trailhead on Petaluma Hill Road opened in June 2015, extending the trail network by 2 miles. A disc golf course built and managed by a nonprofit organization opened in 2014.

Immediate plans for the park include the construction of more picnic areas, a restroom, and a play area. Planning is ongoing for the nature-focused play area, with a design workshop scheduled for Feb. 3 and construction tentatively scheduled for summer 2016. Longer-range plans include walk-in campsites, an education and visitor center, and additional trailheads and parking.

Taylor Mountain Park Trail MAP



Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve opened February 23, 2013 following approval of the property's transfer from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District to Sonoma County Regional Parks. The 1,100-acre site in southeast Santa Rosa will be open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset; the public will no longer need permits to visit the property.

The Board of Supervisors, acting concurrently as directors of the Open Space District, unanimously authorized the transfer of fee title from the District to Regional Parks. The District will retain a conservation easement that generally limits use of the property to natural resource protection, recreation, education and agriculture. The District also will retain a recreation covenant that obligates the county to provide public access to the property in perpetuity. The Board of Supervisors adopted the Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve Master Plan and accompanying CEQA document on October 9, 2012.

These documents are the culmination of a series of conversations with the community about their vision for the Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve and we celebrate the extensive collaboration of staff, consultants, and the community that is represented by this plan.

Taylor Mountain is unique in that it is located so close to an urban area, yet is home to so many amazing natural habitats, including wetlands, grasslands, and forests and woodlands, that support wildlife such as mountain lion, deer, fox, and even the federally-protected California red-legged frog. From the top of Taylor Mountain one can take in a sweeping view of the entire Santa Rosa Plain. This project provides the opportunity to preserve a scenic natural area as open space forever, yet at the same time create a variety of recreational opportunities so that people from all walks of life may visit to learn about the natural environment and enjoy the Park and Preserve for generations to come.

A new trailhead on Petaluma Hill Road for access to Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve will be dedicated and opened for public use on Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 11 a.m. The phase one improvements include a new park entrance with solar operated gates, equestrian and vehicle parking, family picnic sites, and 1.4 miles of new trail that connect to the upper park area. Future improvements planned for this trailhead include a natural play area, group picnic sites, a permanent restroom and environmental camping.