Taylor Mountain park taking shape near Santa Rosa

The long-awaited rollout of a regional park on Taylor Mountain, one of Sonoma County's largest swaths of open space overlooking Santa Rosa, is starting to take shape.

The plans include general access for the public starting as soon as January and for the development of an expanded trail network on the 1,100 acres, restrooms, parking and camping and picnic sites starting next year.

The changes aim to lightly transform what has been a little-known, lightly visited public property on the eastern edge of Santa Rosa into a destination for the broader populace.

"A lot of people have no idea what they're in for when they get up on that mountain," said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart.

The property offers expansive grass hillsides, dense oak groves and sweeping views of the Santa Rosa Plain.

"It's beautiful. Just spectacular," Hart said.

The county Board of Supervisors today is set to approve the blueprint guiding the park's development and an environmental review.

Those documents have been more than two years in the making, trying the patience of some park supporters. But county officials insist the planning was speedy for government work and worth it to craft a vision that's drawn broad support and almost no opposition.

That plan seeks a balance between improvements for greater public recreation, with 17 miles of paths for hikers, cyclists and equestrians, and protection of the property's resources, including its wildlife.

Developed areas, including five trailheads, restrooms and the visitor center, will be kept to the park's periphery, which stretches from Bennett Valley to Petaluma Hill Road. The core of the park will remain a wild preserve, officials said.

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