Best Sonoma County trails for nature-loving runners
While the rest of the country may still be embroiled in the throes of winter storms, spring stole up to Sonoma County this past week sending cherry blossoms into sudden bloom and fresh infusions of Vitamin D into the weary skin of residents.
With warm weather finally entering the rotation of sporadic rainstorms, it's a great time to take advantage of the plethora of trail runs and hikes the county offers.
Here are a few options for your next sunny weekend trek.
Trione-Annadel State Park (Santa Rosa)
Cost: $7 day fee
Trails: Rough Go and Spring Creek Loop
Spring Creek Trail
Rough Go Trail
Nothing like the name of a trail telling you how it is. Starting at a small bridge on a road in conjunction with Spring Lake and Annadel parks, going up Rough Go is rocky and meandering trail full of challenges. If you've ever had a fantasy about casually leaping down trails like a mountain goat, coming down Rough Go can willingly oblige and always proves full of adventure. “Annadel is my happy place and this is my favorite route to run,” said Diana Zahn, a trail runner and legal secretary from Rohnert Park. “It reminds me why I made the move to Sonoma County - it's amazing such a magical place is only 15 minutes from where I live.”
Canyon/Spring Creek Loop
Length: 2 miles
Spring Creek Trail Length: 1.3 miles
Canyon and Spring Creek trails are situated on the west end of Annadel State Park and are best accessed from an old fire road that runs from Spring Lake Regional Park into Annadel. You can reach this fire road from several residential streets along Summerfield Road in Santa Rosa, including Parktrail Drive and Stonehedge Drive.
The most common and easiest route is to go up Spring Creek and down Canyon, which will pass by Lake Ilsanjo, a man-made lake named after the former landowner Joe Coney and his wife Ilsa. Cresting Canyon affords a lovely view of downtown Santa Rosa and nearby Spring Lake. For a more challenging endeavor, try going up Canyon and down Spring Creek.
Warren Richardson trail begins in a parking lot inside Annadel itself accessed through the park's Channel Drive entrance. The trail, a wide fire road, climbs steadily uphill before reaching Lake Ilsanjo. Once there, hikers and runners can jump onto Rough Go for a short while before hitting the entrance of Cobblestone trail.
“It's the type of run where I can shut my brain off and enjoy the scenery,” said Mike Wortman, the former assistant cross-country coach for Santa Rosa Junior College. “It's a beautiful route.” Cobblestone gets its name from the former cobblestone mine that operated alongside it in the early 1900s. After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, cobblestone was in great demand to rebuild the city. A couple of quarries dot the park, and Cobblestone passes by the former Wymore Quarry. A closer look reveals some of the remains of the tracks on which the carts traveled on. Cobblestone trail snakes down through fields and forests before emptying back out onto Channel Drive.
Pig Flat 0.5
Marsh Trail: 0.4
One of perhaps the lesser explored regions of Annadel State Park is the eastern side which includes a tangle of trails offering often breathtaking views of the Kenwood area.
“I like starting from the Lawndale (entrance), running up Schultz and down Lawndale,” said Marc Strozyk, a trail running coach for Fleet Feet Sports. “Less people, more single track and best views.” To do the loop Strozyk described, park at the Lawndale lot, jog along Schultz road until you reach the Schultz trail. Once you're up the Schultz trail, veer right onto Pig Flat trail for half a mile, and turn right onto Marsh trail. Another roughly half mile will bring you to the Lawndale trail.\
Sonoma County Regional Parks
Cost: $7 day fee
Taylor Mountain (Santa Rosa) Western Route Trail
One of the newer additions to county park offerings, Taylor Mountain may provide one of the best views of Santa Rosa around.
The route is primarily uphill, and peppered with a variety of mellow cows who graze on the land as part of an agreement with Sonoma County Regional Parks.
“Just a short drive away, you are transported to the grazing hillsides of Sonoma County cows,” said Justin Borton, who hosts a community running group on Tuesday mornings at Taylor Mountain. “Within 40 minutes of running, you have reached the summit, above the coastal fog with glorious views and a feeling of accomplishment.”