Sonoma County may be best known for its fantastic wine, but it’s also a wonderful place to explore the great outdoors. After your wine tasting at Gary Farrell Winery, we suggest you head over to one of the area’s stunning state parks (all within an hour’s drive) for some hiking. From redwoods to waterfalls to ocean views, you don’t want to miss this side of Sonoma.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
2605 Adobe Canyon Rd, Kenwood, CA 95452
Made up of 3,900 beautiful, natural acres, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park boasts more than 25 miles of hiking trails, one of the highest peaks in Sonoma County, a waterfall, and killer views of the Sierras, San Francisco Bay, Mount Diablo, and more. Just looking to work off a bit of that wine during a quick jaunt? Check out quick, easy, and family-friendly trails like the one-mile Creekside Nature Trail. If you want to see the 25-foot seasonal waterfall (best viewed in the winter or spring), hike the Canyon-Pony Gate Loop, a moderate, 2-mile, mostly-shaded hike. For experienced hikers, there are a number of strenuous hikes that last three-five hours, like the Bald Mountain to the Red Barn: Old Homestead hike, which clocks in at 8.8 miles. Pro Tip: Plan your visit in late spring or early summer to witness the spectacular blooming of the wildflowers.
Sonoma Coast State Park
CA-1, Bodega Bay, CA 94923
Spanning 17 miles along the Sonoma Coast, this park is the perfect place to escape the summer heat and take in Pacific Ocean views from the rugged coastline (just make sure you dress in layers). Sonoma Coast State Park features a series of beaches and secluded coves that attract beachcombers, fisherman, sunbathers, and surfers, but if you want to do more than lay in the sand, there are some hiking trails to check out above the beaches. For something quick and easy, the 1.8-mile, leisurely loop at Bodega Head is the area’s most popular trail, offering endless ocean views and the chance to spot local wildlife, including breaching whales. A lengthier, but still easy option is The Kortum Trail, a four-mile hike on coastal flatlands from Goat Rock to Wright’s Beach, with the opportunity to descend down to one of the beaches if you feel inclined. The Pomo Canyon Red Hill Trail is a favorite of advanced hikers, offering a moderate, six-mile, half-day hike. It’s also different from the other coastal trails, taking hikers through lush redwood forests, woodlands, grasslands, and across streams.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
17000 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446
You can’t visit Northern California without spending some time among the towering sequoias, and there’s no better place to do that in Sonoma County than Armstrong Redwoods, located just a couple miles from downtown Guerneville and less than 20 minutes from Gary Farrell Winery. This spectacular grove managed to survive 19th century logging operations and is one of the few places left in California where one can experience these giants in all of their glory. Notable trees are the Parson Jones Tree, the tallest tree reaching more than 310 ft. (located just 0.1 miles from the park entrance) and the oldest tree, Colonel Armstrong, estimated to be more than 1,400 years old. The two most popular trails are the one-mile Armstrong Nature Trail and the Pioneer Nature Trail, which tacks on an extra 0.7 miles. There are a few other moderately-strenuous trails to check out if you’re looking to get your heart rate up. This park attracts a lot of visitors, so get there early or be prepared to walk a bit from your roadside parking spot.
Austin Creek State Recreation Area
17000 Armstrong Woods Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446
Armstrong Redwoods is one of the most popular Sonoma County hiking spots, but those that want to escape the crowds should explore the rugged Austin Creek State Recreation Area. Located roughly three miles above Armstrong, it’s accessed through the same park entrance, but offers a completely different setting from the dense redwood forest below. Instead, you’ll discover cool, tree-lined ravines, grassy hillsides, oak woodlands, rocky mountaintops, and panoramic views along 20 miles of less-traveled trails. Ranging in elevation from 150-1500 ft., the trails here are not for inexperienced hikers or those seeking an easy and flat hike (read: they require some seriously steep climbing). The four-mile East Ridge Trail for instance, climbs 1500 ft. from the Armstrong Redwoods park entrance. For a full-day hike, take the Austin Creek Fire Road, which drops 900 ft. through a canyon and meadows, before a strenuous return trip on Gilliam Creek Trail for a total of nine miles.
For more Sonoma County parks and hikes, visit the Sonoma County Regional Parks website.
Come and experience Sonoma County and all it has to offer with us at Gary Farrell Vineyard and Winery. Find out more about our wines here and book your tasting experience with us in our recently renovated Tasting Salon.