I had never heard of the Lawndale Trail in Annadel State Park, which makes sense as there is no reason to use it unless you enter the park from the extreme eastern tip, at a small trailhead in Kenwood.

But the two miles or so of forested land that mark that trail – and accompany a steady climb – are well worth the exploration. It’s pretty hard, pretty rocky and just plain pretty too. To get there, take Highway 12 from Santa Rosa for nearly 10 miles and turn south onto Lawndale Road. Look for a small parking lot a mile down the road and that’s the edge of Annadel. It’s a facility-free (and pass-free) lot but doesn’t seem to be widely used.

On a recent weekend day that was warming up quickly, I joined a hike that would make a broad counter-clockwise looping route through Annadel, providing us with a chance to soak in much of what makes this one of the best parks around. I’m an Annadel regular, and the hike included some ‘regular’ spots, such as Lake Ilsanjo and the Burma and Marsh trails.

But it also included a detour to a mountaintop spot known as Henry’s Knob. The trail or route there isn’t marked but from the Marsh Trail, there are some opportunities to head upward. Take those and get out of the forest and into the exposed hillsides. The knob-like grassy area emerges and is about 1,100 feet high. It’s a scenic spot to see Santa Rosa and much of the western expanse of Sonoma County. Despite some mild web exploration (uh, Google?), I have no idea who Henry was or why this bump of land is named for him. I’m curious so feel free to respond if you know.

Fall doesn’t start until Saturday, but the recent cool nights are already starting to transform the foliage a bit. Good ol’ Annadel encompasses such a wide range of trees and plants that even though we are still drought-like around here, it felt lush and verdant during much of the hike.

If you start and end at the Lawndale trailhead, you can make this a very respectable day hike. Our groups’ mileage varied depending on whose iPhone app was doing the tracking, but we ended up doing anywhere from 15.4 to 16.2 miles, in just over six hours of high-tailing it.

For an Annadel park brochure and trail map, click here.