I’m not sure why the top of Hood Mountain is called Mount Hood, but it
is close to Santa Rosa, offers terrific views, provides a challenging climb, and is where I headed recently for a hike.
Specifically, I was headed to Gunsight Rock. The rocky outcropping is a perfect place to sit – some 2,700 feet up – and look over Kenwood, eastern Santa Rosa and, on a clear day, much further than that. There are several different ways to access the rock. The only one I’ve done is the Goodspeed/Nattkemper Trail. For that, take Adobe Canyon Road toward Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and park in a small lot by the creek on the northern side of the road, well before the road heads upward into the state park. From there, there are two wooden bridges that are fun to cross, and then about 2 miles of tough climbing and you are in Hood Mountain Regional Park. Just another case of being able to hike somewhere in northern California and cross jurisdictions easily and often unknowingly. Mount Hood itself, part of the Mayacamas, is mostly in Sonoma County but part is in Napa County as well.
From the county park border, there’s still about a mile and a half to go before reaching the summit, or Gunsight Rock, which is a tiny spur away from the summit. (I know that some people call it Gunsight Point too.) For some reason, I had it in my mind that this was a simple, quick hike that I could bang out before lunch and then go about the rest of my day. It’s not. It only took a few hours, but this can be a tough 7-mile trek that is not for everybody. Not impossible, but on a hot day, and it was high 80s as I hiked, it had its moments. There are some shaded portions thanks to all the oak forests, but it is largely an exposed hike. But the views!
Once I got to the rock, and climbed to the very edge, it is both as secluded and as open a spot as you’ll find. Why “Back up to Gunsight Rock” as the title of this post? This was the very first hike that I did when I moved to northern California and it’s the one that got me hooked on hiking (credit dennis). The workout, the new friends (many of whom I still hike with today), the terrain, the nature, and the payoff – it had it all. And still does.