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Vacationing at Home?

Sonoma County Parks - Vacation at Home - Coast - River - Valley - Hit the Trails

Jul 1, 2018

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Staying local is hardly a drag when you’re minutes away from the Sonoma Coast, the Russian River and the Sonoma Valley. If summer finds you with no plans to jet off someplace new, no worries: Here are Regional Parks’ suggestions for finding adventure in your own backyard.

Hit the Trails: When’s the last time you hiked The Sea Ranch’s coastal bluffs? Have you ever watched the sun set from the Umbrella Tree Trail at North Sonoma Mountain? Dipped your toes in the shaded headwaters of Santa Rosa Creek along the Hood Mountain Trail? Odds are there are local parks and trails you’ve yet to discover. The 2018 Sonoma County Trails Challenge dares you to find them. Download the free Trails Challenge guidebook at SonomaCountyParks.org, hike any five or more featured trails this summer, and get your free Trails Challenge T-shirt. Tag your photos and you might win trail gear from REI or Regional Parks memberships. Let us see where your parks take you.

Swimmers at Healdsburg Veterans Memorial BeachFloat Your Cares Away: Time on the Russian River is an iconic summer experience in Sonoma County, and you can get on the river at any of Regional Parks’ seven beaches from Cloverdale to Forestville. But one of our favorite spots is Veterans Memorial Beach in Healdsburg, a big sand bank that’s been a summer gathering place for decades. A seasonal dam creates a placid swimming hole, and it’s the perfect place to let kids play in the river or to laze away an afternoon on an inner tube. The groomed beach has plenty of room for sunbathing, and the up-river view of Memorial Bridge adds to the charm. Added bonus: Amy’s Wicked Slush is right across the road.

Camp on a Wednesday:Don’t let your tent spend the summer in the garage. Yes, weekend campsite reservations are hard to get mid-summer. But middle-of-the-week spots aren’t as elusive. (Doran Beach being the exception.) Last-minute planners can head to Sonoma County’s far north coast and camp along the Gualala River at Gualala Point Regional Park or near the ocean and redwoods at Stillwater Cove Regional Park. Or stay really close to home and experience Santa Rosa’s wild side by camping at Spring Lake Regional Park. If you’re a backpacker, the hike-in sites along Hood Mountain’s Azalea Creek are open and were not touched by the wildfires. Remember, Regional Parks members get one free night of camping.

Kayaking at Spring Lake in east Santa RosaPaddle On: The walk around Spring Lake is a familiar one. But have you ever been on Spring Lake? Rent a kayak, paddle board, peddle boat, or canoe and see the park from a whole different perspective. Paddle your way around lake’s islands. Explore hidden inlets. Watch for wildlife like otters, cormorants, swans, and turtles. Rentals start at $12 an hour and are available next to the Otter Café from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. all summer. If you’re up for an after-hours adventure, we’re hosting a full-moon paddle on July 27. Interested in paddle boarding but not sure how to get started? Join one of the intro classes offered on the lake in July and August. Sign up through the activities calendar at SonomaCountyParks.org.

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