You know the feeling: Work and family demands have been stressful, and you missed your gym time. Now it’s a beautiful weekend and your dog is looking at you with those eyes, even though you have so much to do. A quick, aerobic outdoor jaunt might be just the double-duty solution you’re after. Here are a few good runs you can do in Sonoma County with your pooch that will leave you both revitalized and content.
While the parking costs, dog rules and terrains differ somewhat, always bring a leash and harness for your dog, several disposable waste pickup bags, and enough cool water for both of you.
Foothill Regional Park (Windsor): Dogs on leash. $7 park day fee.
Popular with Windsor locals, the former ranch property is situated at the foot of Mayacamas Mountains (home to Mount St. Helena and Middletown’s Cobb Mountain).
While the park’s steeper Alta Vista trail affords the best views, Windsor resident Zachary Woodson recommends a roughly two-mile loop route taking the Westside trail to Oakwood to Meadow and then to Three Lakes to end up back at the start.
“The whole place is not very big and there are several easy alternative options,” said Woodson, who used to run in the park with his golden retriever Jake before he passed on. “The first part of Westside is a little steep right off the bat, but nowhere near as tough as Annadel.”
Woodson also noted the handiness of the park’s supply of doggie waste bags near the main gate. “There are garbage cans through, so you don’t have to carry [doggie] bags for too long,” said Woodson.
Joe Rodota Trail (Santa Rosa/Sebastopol): Dogs on leash, no day fee.
The popular bike path paralleling the south side of Highway 12 on the way to Sebastopol is perhaps one of the more scenic straight shot routes in the area. Affording over eight miles of paved trail, Joe Rodota is part of the county’s regional park system.
Unlike the regular parks, there is no day fee to use the Rodota trail and multiple entrances in Santa Rosa and one in Sebastopol offer some parking. No bathrooms or water fountains are available on this trail though, so make sure you’re prepared.
Taylor Mountain Regional Park (Santa Rosa): Dogs on leash, $7 day fee
The still fresh addition to the county’s park system could be a little steep for some dogs and their owners, but the grazing cows along the trail and the views delivered once at the top might make it worth it.
Santa Rosa resident Sarah Martin has taken her rescue mutt Otter to Taylor Mountain. “Her favorite part was seeing her first cow!” said Martin.
Prince Memorial Greenway (Santa Rosa): Dogs on leash, no day fee.
The Prince Memorial Greenway is a swatch of parallel roughly 1.5 mile trail and bike paths bordering the Santa Rosa Creek. The beautiful and calm stretch of quiet in West Santa Rosa backs up mostly to neighborhoods, starting at the edge of downtown and running all the way to Fulton Road. Multiple neighborhood entrances and entrances along major thoroughfares like Stony Point Road make the Greenway easy to access.
This year’s Apple Blossom Festival and Parade takes place on Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23. Visit appleblossomfest.com for details.