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It’s probably the first thought that comes to mind when hiking on the Half-A-Canoe Loop at Lake Sonoma. More on that in a bit.

With its dozen of miles of trails surrounding a pristine lake, and free hiking access, it’s a wonder Lake Sonoma isn’t more crowded in the winter. I was there on a recent weekend that might have been rainy and cold, but ended up being sunny and mild. The lake was created 30 years ago when the Warm Springs Dam was built, and it’s quiet this time of year. Winter rains have turned many of the trails into muddy walkways, but not unbearably so.

And the result from every trail around the 2,700-acre property is a view of water, ridges and parts of Dry Creek Valley.

There are literally dozens of possible trailheads at the park. Our hike started at the No Name Flat parking area on Rockpile Road. The aforementioned Half a Canoe Loop (which is not shaped like a canoe, or like half of one) runs about five miles but it’s easy to either add or subtract a few miles from that total by jumping onto some other trails.

Click here for detailed information on trail maps, visitor center hours, and details on the fish hatchery and the upcoming Steelhead Festival on Feb. 9.

P.S. When the Half a Canoe trail was being marked and built, one half of a canoe was found along the path. Hence the name.