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I loved that the guide for my recent hike at the nature preserve at the Bohemia Ranch advised us that if we were looking for the nearby Bohemian Grove protest that was happening simultaneously, we were at the wrong place.

Our setting was a small jewel of the earth about three miles north of Occidental – the Bohemia Ecological Preserve. It is a 554-acre parcel of land on the east side of Bohemian Highway, rising gently upward to several scenic vistas. The site includes a former rock quarry location, but mainly, it is a few rolling hills, wide trails and a cool spot to see redwoods, firs and oaks near and far. Dutch Bill Creek is one of several creeks running through the property, and it is teeming with rare plants and wildlife. We didn’t see the wild horses that live there, but a small group continue to reside there, apparently undisturbed by the occasional groups of human hikers.

All in all, if you are an outdoors fan, consider this small but vibrant space to be a tiny slice of paradise on earth.

The highlight for many people is a 30-foot-tall waterfall, which is running fairly slow these days but can be gushing during rainy months. To get there, there’s a choice – either a short walk from the road through land that is technically private property, or the more legal route, looping on a two-mile-ish journey up and down a hill and valley. The latter route is also the more rewarding one, as it lets you detour to a open hilltop spot appropriately known as the ‘Top of the World.’ There are also some extremely well-furnished cabins at the top of the property that are used by some of the volunteers who assist with maintaining the preserve.

This hike was sponsored by LandPaths, which provides the only public access to the property through regular guided hikes. Along with about 300 adjacent acres, the preserve was recently saved from development by the work of LandPaths and the Sonoma Land Trust. Click here for more.