Armed with pickaxes, hoes, rakes and shovels, several dozen sweaty, dusty volunteers finished carving out nearly a mile of new hiking trail Sunday at Santa Rosa's Taylor Mountain Regional Park.
The weekend project drew trail builders from all over the Bay Area, with more than 60 of them starting work Saturday and some of them camping overnight.
“By the time you're done, you want to bring your friends back here and show them what you've done,” said volunteer Morris Older, an accountant from Orinda.
Taylor Mountain Regional Park Trail Work
The work party was organized by Sonoma County Regional Parks in collaboration with Volunteers for Outdoor California, a regional organization of several thousand volunteers founded in 2006 and headquartered in Redwood City.
The weekend's work force included college and high school students from San Mateo and a group of six volunteers from Livermore, ranging in age from early 20s to late 50s.
Livermore volunteer Jessai Bear stopped to befriend a caterpillar she found on a live oak tree, while another member of her party, Craig Fish, leaned on the handle of a pickax and grinned.
“This is a blast,” he said. “Putting in a new trail in a park is a gift to all of us.”
When the park opened to the public in February, with 1,100 acres of rolling hills overlooking the Santa Rosa Plain, it had four miles of trails for hikers and a three-mile network for equestrians and cyclists.
Plans ultimately call for 17 miles of hiking trails, said Jen Stanfield of Sonoma County Regional Parks, which sponsors similar work parties at county parks year-round, teaming up with various volunteer groups.
Allen Sisk of Rohnert Park, a business specialist for Wells Fargo Bank and supporter of Volunteers for Outdoor California, said Taylor Mountain Regional Park is an important addition to the region's outdoor recreation options.
“You've got a beautiful area right on the urban edge, and an opportunity to see very different types of environment and habitat,” said Sisk.
Even though the land has been open to the general public for less than a year, it has been preserved for recreational use for almost 20 years.
The county's Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District bought most of it between 1995 and 2005 for $21 million. About 820 acres of the preserve have been open to the public since 2010 under a permit program operated by LandPaths, a Santa Rosa-based conservation group.
The park is named after Gold Rush pioneer John Shackleford Taylor, who came to Santa Rosa in 1853 and maintained a herd of dairy cows and a vineyard on his mountain ranch.
Get more information about upcoming work days at Taylor Mountain from Sonoma County Regional Parks at 565-3356 or parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.