Relaxing hikes in Sonoma County

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Relaxing hikes in Sonoma County

Seamus Reed, Assistant News and Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Sonoma Coast State Park

Take Highway 1 north past Bodega Bay, and you’ll find yourself at Shell Beach, the trailhead for the Pomo Canyon Trail. Park at the beach, and cross the highway. The trail loop takes you right into the hills and gives you a great view of Bodega Bay and the headlands. Starting out steep, the trail levels off as you enter the redwoods and leads you downhill to the old Pomo Canyon campsite. Hikers can opt to try the Red Hill Trail Loop to gain some altitude and enjoy more great views.

Make sure to bring water because this hike is a great workout; every step uphill is worth the view. Before heading out, hikers can climb down the cliffs to the waves at Shell Beach. Bodega Bay lies on the route back to Santa Rosa and makes for a good seafood stop. Expect only a few other hikers; this one is off the beaten path. A hike here will take you about three hours.

Trionne-Annadel State Park

Annadel State Park is a mainstay of Sonoma County hiking culture with its familiar and gorgeous scenery. East of Santa Rosa, Annadel Park is accessible by trail at Channel Drive and Howarth Park. Open from 8 a.m. until sunset, Annadel offers students and other hikers many options in distance, intensity and scenery.

While most trails will lead to beautiful Lake Ilsanjo, hikers can opt for the Ridge Trail and take on some extra mileage. This park is big enough for everyone, so hikers can expect some peace and quiet out on the trail. Depending on what trail you choose your hike can take you two hours or more.

Shiloh Ranch Regional Park

A great place to go in Windsor to get away from schoolwork for an hour or two. Only 15 minutes from SRJC’s Santa Rosa campus, Shiloh is the perfect spot to hit after a long day of classes or studying. Parking passes are required, but you can park on the road for free.

Shiloh Ranch has nearly eight miles of trails available to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. Be warned; the North Ridge and Ridge trails have some sharp inclines, but there are plenty of other options to pick from. Bring water, because this two- to three-hour hike somehow always manages to be hot and humid.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

If you’re looking to spend a day relaxing and hiking in the Mayacamas mountains above Kenwood, look no further than Sugarloaf. Adjacent to the equally beautiful Hood Mountain Regional Park, Sugarloaf offers many trails for hikers with time to kill. Boasting a plethora of trails, waterfalls and a few opportunities for bouldering, this park is a great getaway. Hikers also share the trails with mountain bikers and the occasional horse.

The Meadow Trail will take about an hour and is the most accessible for Disability Resources Department (DRD) students. For students with children, the Quest Hike offers educational opportunities to learn about the flora and fauna in the park. For more experienced hikers, the 6.5 mile Bald Mountain Loop will provide spectacular views at 1,500 feet. Family-friendly trails will take about an hour, while the extended trails can be a welcome five-hour getaway.

Armstrong Woods Natural Reserve

A stone’s throw away from Guerneville, Armstrong Woods is a well known spot to get some fresh air and exercise. This park is pretty well traveled, so expect to share the trails with other visitors. Hikers have two general options for trails: quick and easy, or long and steep.

The Discovery Trail and Pioneer Nature Trail will bring you through the redwoods on the forest floor and offer natural education opportunities for students with young kids. If you’re looking for a more strenuous hike to take up a few more hours, opt for the Pool Ridge Trail, which will take you to beautiful Bullfrog Pond. The longer hikes take around three hours. Expect it to be cold at the base of the redwoods, so bring layers.

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