October is Shuttle Month for Sonoma County hikers

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The crew at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is extending its three-year experiment with shuttle service to make it easier for experienced hikers to trek from park to park without the hassle of staging cars at one end or the other. They’ve dubbed October “Shuttle Month,” and each weekend day will offer van rides between Sonoma Valley-area regional and state parks, facilitating thru-hikes between adjoining properties with ease. It’s free, though suggested donations of $10 are requested.

Travel is being offered beginning this weekend and for the next two between Sugarloaf and Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space preserve. The van will stop at various points from morning through mid-day for folks who might want to take a challenging hike up to Gunsight Rock and down the other side — though there are numerous variations.

The final weekend, Oct. 27 and 29, will serve visitors hiking between North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Jack London State Historic Park, providing access to the 8.6-mile North Sonoma Mountain Ridge Trail and adjoining connectors. The regular “Sugar Shuttle” service between those two parks resumes Nov. 10 and 11.

The expanded October shuttle schedule is one way to test demand for such service and to get more people out on their public lands in the golden glow of autumn.

Sugarloaf Ridge Park Manager John Roney said organizers first arranged for rideshares one day a month between spring and fall after seeing hikers dropping off cars at opposite ends of some of the longer trails, then driving several miles away to start their walk — then at the end, picking up the car they started in.

“It’s just a lot more effort that way,” Roney said. “It adds a lot of time, and then you need two cars.”

Last year, “the Sugar Shuttle” was in service one whole weekend a month, as was the case this year, until now.

“This is kind of an experiment to see, If we do it every weekend, do we get more or less (riders)?” Roney said. “If we do it more often, is that going to increase demand, because people are interested and will find a time that works for them. Who knows?”

Reservations are recommended.

Gohere for tickets and more information. There’s also a link to email the Team Sugarloaf crew how it works for you.

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