Lawson Trail reopens at Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve
Outdoor enthusiasts will once again be able to hike, bike or ride in parts of Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve this summer when Sonoma County Regional Parks re-opens the Sonoma Valley park to limited public access on June 1, 2021. Hood Mountain Regional Park has been closed since September 2020, when the Glass Fire burned approximately 80 percent of the 2,000-acre park.
In contrast to the fire damage Hood Mountain park suffered after the 2017 Nuns Fire, the Glass Fire resulted in significantly more damaged trees throughout the burn area, in part due to the fact that trees that had burned in 2017 were far more susceptible to another wildfire only three years later. Additionally, the park’s two access roads, Los Alamos Road on the west side and Pythian Road on the east side, sustained infrastructure damage during the blaze, affecting safe access.
Over the past eight months, crews have been working to clear the many hundreds of hazard trees and repair road and other infrastructure damage. On June 1, the Pythian Road entrance and upper parking lot on the east side of the park will reopen public access to only a limited section of Lower Johnson Ridge Trail and the full-length of the new Lawson Trail. No other trails within the park will reopen at this time.
The lower Pythian Road parking lot, including the equestrian trailer parking area, remains closed at this time. The Los Alamos Road entrance and west side of the regional park also remains closed.
From the upper Pythian Road parking lot, visitors have access to the Lower Johnson Ridge Trail that connects to the interior of the park and 4-mile out-and-back climb on the Lawson Trail. The Lawson Trail, which opened to the public just months before the Glass Fire ignited last fall, climbs and zig zags from riparian creek habitat, through oak, chaparral and Sargent cypress woodlands, and winds west across prominent ridge lines with scenic vistas of Sonoma Valley and Napa Hills, nearly 1,935-feet above the valley floor.
While the historic Lawson family cabin and barn were lost in the fire, the natural habitat is already showing signs of regeneration, with spring rains bringing forth wildflowers and new green sprouts in the middle of a native pygmy cypress forest (Cupressus sargentii) and the madrone oak woodlands.
As crews continue work to clear and repair the rest of Hood Mountain’s nearly 19 miles of trails, please respect trail closure signs and stay on trail to avoid damage to soil, seeds and new vegetation as nature continues its recovery.
Hood Mountain’s Pythian Road parking lot is located at 1450 Pythian Road in Santa Rosa. Parking is $7 for public; free for Regional Park members.
The Sonoma County Parks Foundation hosts a Fire Recovery and Resilience Fund that will help Hood Mountain come back from this damage. Donations can be directed to the Hood Mountain Fire Recovery Campaign of the Bill and Dave Legacy Fund.
For more information on Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve and an updated park map, visit parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Visit/Hood-Mountain-Regional-Park-and-Preserve.