Despite some earlier predictions of wintry-like weather around here this past weekend, it turned out to be a perfect weekend for hiking. Clear sky, a sun warming things up from the early-morning frost levels, and not many people out on the trails.

At Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, the trails are extremely muddy right about now, thanks to the recent rains. The result is that the Canyon nd Creekside trails are open only to pedestrians right now, and the footing is very slick and wet. We headed there for a quick midday hike, hopeful that it would be worth the slogging to get around the 3-4 miles of trails that encircle the Windsor area park.

It was, as there was a veritable shadow dance occurring, with the sun stretching through the crooked oaks and manzanitas to create all sorts of shadowy spectacles. The hilly terrain in the park lets a hiker go in and out of sun and shade, creating the back-and-forth climate effect that can make a hike interesting.

I was disappointed to see the creek nearly dry, and even totally dry in some parts, and the park’s ponds looked like they could use some replenishing too. But Shiloh is a park built for a slow hike, with numerous benches providing scenic respites, so a slow and leisurely hike it was.

P.S. If you’re a fan of Tolay Lake Regional Park, or have just been there for the fall festival, you may know that it is moving toward becoming a full-fledged county park with more public access. The parkland, which is east of Petaluma, came into public ownership nearly eight years ago and has been limited so far to special events and monthly events. I’ve been out there, and it provides some rare views looking down toward San Pablo Bay, and is also the habitat to an amazing amount of wildlife representatives. If you care about what expanded public access looks like, the regional parks department wants to hear from you. Take their survey. It’s quick, free and you can choose to be anonymous. You have through February to take it. Click here for the link.