One benefit of the relatively cool weather is that it keeps hiking bearable. What could be cruelly difficult treks are much more pleasant when there's a hint of fall weather in the air.

One upcoming opportunity for an early evening hike will be Thursday when the Sonoma County Parks Department hosts the last of its summer series of after-work hikes.

This one will be at Riverfront Regional Park on Eastside Road just southwest of Windsor. The 5-year-old park was once home to a gravel quarry, and the two small lakes were once gravel pits. If you've never been to the park, it's worth a visit, and not just because it's nearby.

The 300 acres are adjacent to the Russian River and feature about 2 miles of walking trails on easy paths. Thursday's hike starts at 6 p.m. and will be led by Bill Arenander, a longtime Sonoma County Parks employee who is now a retiree who happily leads local groups on hikes.

The hike, which is open to anyone, will wrap up by sunset, when the park officially closes. There's a $6 parking fee at Riverfront, which is one of the county parks where dogs are allowed. Call Bill at 763-8133 to reserve a spot on the hike as space is limited.

For more on county parks, go to www.sonomacounty For more on local hiking, see the PD's hiking blog at

-- Greg Retsinas