Trione-Annadel State Park, a popular retreat at the edge of Santa Rosa that has been closed because of recent wildfires, is welcoming visitors back to its tree-studded hillsides.
The unburned portion of the park is now open to the public, including all areas north and west of Lake Ilsanjo, the hilltop reservoir itself and the Canyon Trail fire road that runs along its southern edge, according to park officials.
Access is available via the Channel Drive park entrance and trailheads, trails connecting Annadel to Spring Lake Regional Park, and the Vietnam Veteran’s Trail that starts from the Annadel Heights residential area.
But much of the park south of Canyon Trail and its extension, Warren Richardson Trail fire road, remains closed indefinitely to allow the landscape to recover and to ensure the public’s safety, according to Bay Area District Superintendent Ryen Goering.
“Even as of yesterday, we had a hot spot in Annadel, in the middle of the burn area — smoke and active fire,” said Goering.
More than 60 percent of the park, or 3,108 acres, was burned as the Adobe fire spread south and west from Kenwood in the first days of the Oct. 8 wildfires, State Park Superintendent Vince Anibale said.
The Adobe was one of several smaller fires that eventually merged into the behemoth Nuns fire, which ultimately took in 56,566 acres and required nearly a month to contain, fire officials said.
Flames burned slowly through large areas of the park, sparing trees and even larger brush, Anibale and Goering said. The park’s natural resources experts were pleased, on the whole, with the limited damage, said Goering.
“But there were a lot of pockets here and there where you could tell it was a hotter fire,” including patches left with little to no vegetation, Goering said.
State park personnel went trail-by-trail through the unburned portion of the park, addressing a few hazardous trees and checking for erosion risk, Goering said. It was unclear how much of the park’s burn zone had been assessed for hazardous trees, he said, but there remain concerns about trail conditions and erosion.
It could be spring before there is sufficient regrowth of vegetation to allow the entire park to be reopened, Goering said. In the meantime, recreational advocates are urging park users to respect the closures at Trione-Annadel and other fire-damaged parks, both to avoid unsafe situations and to promote trust and credibility with park managers and the public.
“My hope is everyone is going to understand what’s at stake and be patient,” said Nick Nesbitt, chairman of the Redwood Empire Mountain Bike Alliance.
But Goering said a substantial number of hikers and other people have entered the park illegally, including at least 20 who were issued citations and “probably hundreds” who were given formal warnings.
“They don’t realize they’re creating more work for us,” he said.
Closed trails include Schultz, Rhyolite, Two Quarry, South Burma, Marsh, Ridge, Pig Flat and Lawndale.
You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.