Reprinted from The Press Democrat’s Towns, April 8 edition
When cyclist Jim Keene first visited Santa Rosa in 1982, his destination was Annadel State Park. A mecca for mountain bikers, trail
runners, bird watchers and wildflower lovers alike, the park is now Keene’s backyard.
He lives in the lone house among oak trees and parking spots at the adjacent Howarth Park, and rides through many of the 44 intertwining trails on an almost-daily basis. Like many others who enjoy the bike, horse and hiking trails, he is invested in seeing that Annadel survives recent State Park budget cuts.
A fundraiser planned for April 17 will include a half-marathon, a 5k race and a family fun day. More details are available at www.annadelhalf.com.
“I’ve never seen anything like Annadel,” says Keene, owner of The Bike Peddler and NorCal Bike Sport. “All of the trails run seamlessly into each other. It really is a crown jewel.”
At 2.5 miles wide and 4.5 miles long, Annadel is among the county’s largest public parks. Reminders of its previous inhabitants share space with its current ones. As the park prepares for its 40th anniversary celebration April 17 (details at annadelhalf.com), we revisit its stories and treasures.
– Pomo and Southern Wappo tribes used it as a source for the obsidian they sharpened into spears and arrowheads. (You can still see chips on the S Steve’s Trail.)
– In the 1800s it was part of the Los Guilicos Rancho, a Mexican land grant, until Irish emigrant Samuel Hutchinson bought it in 1871. He raised sheep, grew crops on the flat land that now holds Oakmont and leased the hillsides to basalt miners. (You can see remnants of those quarries on Cobblestone and Orchard trails.)
– Joseph Coney bought the property in 1930 and named it AnnadelFarm, combining his daughter Annie’s name with dell, the
word for small wooded valleys. In the middle, he created a lake named Ilsanjo, a conglomerate of his and wife Ilse’s names. (Visitors can still fish there for blue gills and large mouth bass.)
– Developer Wayne Valley, who once owned the Oakland Raiders, came to town with plans to build a $160 million, 5,000-acre subdivision on Annadel Farm. Environmentalists objected, and later that year Valley dropped his option on the parcel.
– Banker Henry Trione bought land between Annadel and Oakmont for his polo club subdivision Wild Oaks. He also joined the movement to preserve the rest, donating $1 million.
– The new California State Park Foundation accepted Annadel as its first project in 1971. By 1992, it was hosting 200,000 visitors a year.
– Channel Drive was once a small gauge railroad line that took the cobblestones from the quarries to San Francisco and Sacramento.
– The threatened California red-legged frog, popularized by Mark Twain’s Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, lives at
Ledson Marsh. Rangers urge visitors to step with care when they hike Marsh Trail.
– Steve’s “S” Trail gets its name from Steve Hutchinson, grandson of the owners, who has his own secret “S” trails.
– Rhyolite from one of the quarries was made into decorative building materials. The face of St.Eugene’sCatholic Church is made with Annadel’s rhyolite.
– A long stone fence, probably built by Chinese laborers, rims the west edge of Annadel.
– Wild pigs, turkeys, deer, Canadian geese and the occasional mountain lion are the park’s only overnight visitors. Campsites are available in nearby Spring Lake Park.