Hiking in Sonoma County

Shollenberger Park:  Located in Petaluma, the Shollenberger Park 2.2-mile loop is an easy and heavily trafficked hike.

Cate Carlson, Reporter

Shollenberger Park: 

Level: easy

Rating: 7/10

Dogs: allowed

Located in Petaluma, the Shollenberger Park 2.2-mile loop is an easy and heavily trafficked hike. It offers a view of the wetland that can be stagnant and dull during colder weather or filled with life as birds and wildlife return. If you live nearby, I suggest walking this trail to corral little hikers, running it during rainy mornings, and sitting on its benches to watch the birds during lulls in busy schedules. However, this is not a hike to drive more than ten minutes for. 


Spring Lake Regional Park:

Level: easy

Rating: 6/10

Dogs: allowed

Santa Rosa’s Spring Lake Regional Park offers an easy 2.1-mile paved trail around its lake as well as unpaved loop trails coming off of it. It can be boring to walk this loop, but it is great for walking your dog or going on a run. Because it is connected to a campground, these trails have high traffic as is the lake if the weather is nice. A 2.4-mile hike from Spring Lake to Devil’s Lake is another hiking option in this park. Make sure to bring water because there is limited shade protection in some parts of the park. 


Trione Annadel State Park

Level: easy to moderate

Rating: 9/10

Dogs: allowed 

With around 40 miles of interconnected trails, Annadel State Park in Santa Rose has both easy and moderate trail options. Hikes can offer a view of Ilsanjo Lake, meadows, and elevation changes of 295 feet to 1,427 feet above sea level. If a variety of scenery and difficulty is important, I suggest the Rough Go Trail via Canyon loop as it allows hikers to see meadows, dense forestry, hill peaks, and Ilsanjo Lake, popular for mountain biking because the trail is wide and curvy.


Helen Putnam Regional Park

Level: easy to moderate

Rating: 8/10 

Dogs: allowed

Located in Petaluma, Helen Putnam Regional Park boasts steep trails, grassland, and forested areas. In the inner loop, first seen at the entrance of the park, hikers can enjoy steep treks up the moderate trails surrounded by golden grasslands and watch sunsets unencumbered by forestry. Benches are common in this park and viewpoints are easy to find. It is important to bring water when hiking the inner loop as there are long stretches of limited shade and dehydration is common. In the outer loop, the forested trails are more level and easier to hike despite the many tree roots.  


Olompali State Historic Park

Level: Moderate 

Rating: 10/10

Dogs: Not allowed

Olompali State Historic Park has two trails, the Miwok to Upper Mt. Burdell Trail which is 9.6 miles, and the connecting Olompali Trail which is 2.9 miles. The longer trail takes hikers up the steep mountain with many switchbacks, sun-covering trees, and a beautiful outlook at the top. While it takes around five hours, I find hiking such a repetitive trail with constant scenery to feel like ten minutes as it becomes meditative to see switchbacks below and above you and no way to tell time with the sun hidden behind the trees.