Warning: Guest post ahead…

Heather Irwin is known as the spiciest food blogger around. OK, well, that’s my opinion. She works for me, so I can think whatever I want. In any event, her Bite Club food site is very smart, very creative and very yummy. If you haven’t seen it, here it is. (It gets way more traffic than my blog ever will get, and is, in fact, nationally recognized as the ‘best entertainment blog in the nation’ so I guess that means it’s better.)

heather_BUS-1Anyway, Heather brings me food & vino all the time. Not sure what I’d do without the steady supply of whiskey pumpkin cheesecake, Thin Mint Brownies and Gravenstein Apple Brandy. So in return, I’m letting her post her recent account of an actual hike on this blog. Enjoy…..


“I am not, by nature, a person who enjoys the great outdoors. I prefer soft chairs, indoor plumbing, air-conditioning and feeling justified in squishing bug invaders. I shudder at the thought of blisters and mud. Which is why I’m also fat and out of shape. So, on threat of being kicked out of my weight control group, I am embarking on adventures that require hiking boots and outdoor wear. Grudgingly.

Mission One: Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Canyon Trail to the waterfall

Accessible without being over-run, its just 25 minutes or so outside Santa Rosa. The main draw, an easily hike-able route to moss-covered waterfalls. Elevation gain of about 400 feet, .8 miles one-way, entirely shaded. Good stuff for hiking newbies with feet-dragging children.

The park: Entrance to the park is a marked road at Landmark Winery in Kenwood, Sonoma Valley. It’s a winding, longer-than-expected trip for several miles past luxury (and not so much) homes at the base of the ridge. Expect some ear-popping as you ascend into the Mayacamus Mountains. The entrance to the park is at about 600 feet, watch for a waterfall and bridge to your right.

Our hike: Pony Gate Trail to Canyon Trail. Access and parking is just before the day use parking lot. We paid the $8 entrance fee and took the Pony Gate Trail, making a loop to Canyon Trail (see below). Full map here.


What you’ll see: The canyon trail can be steep, especially on the return trip, but the mossy waterfalls are breath-taking. Trip up Pony Gate from the day-use lot affords amazing views. Lots of creatures to be found along the trail. The mostly-covered adventure makes for a decent hike on hot/sunny or drizzly days.

Nearby: If you have time, check out the Observatory further up the road from the day-use parking lot. We’ve marked that as a next trip.

The Aha Moment: Kids skipping down the trail and fighting over who’s “trailblazer” (when hours ago they were punching each other and glued to the TV). Me remembering what it’s like to breath fresh air, feeling like a little kid who can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend.”

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