It also is smartly designed with multiple switchbacks terraced into the mountain to ease the elevation rises. Although you're rising some 2,000 feet, you won't feel the strain as much.

The graduated terraces are designed to slow water so it doesn't wash out the trails and cause erosion, making maintenance easier.

The trail is raised with pebbles and lined with stone over wetlands in the early part of the journey to keep hiking shoes from bogging down and to facilitate drainage.

There are still some legal issues to be ironed out with neighboring property owners, so the eventual North Slope Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve is still perhaps a year away from officially transferring to the county parks department and opening to the public. LandPaths, nonetheless, is hoping to offer some additional guided hikes in the meantime.

The park-to-be, an assemblage of four properties acquired by the Open Space District between 2003 and 2005, starts at the 168-acre Jacobs Ranch, which features a parking lot and nearby picnic area within a cool, dark grove of redwoods.

It ends at the Hayfields Trail in Jack London Park, which connects in about 400 yards to the Sonoma Mountain Trail. The Open Space District is completing a 1.3-mile East Slope addition to that trail, which Chalk said could officially open within six months.

With the two new trails, hikers should soon have access to "roughly half the distance around Sonoma Mountain," Chalk said.

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at meg.mcconahey@ or 521-5204.