Monday’s snow aside (yes, Virginia, it did snow in Sonoma County), the hiking trails around the North Bay are getting crowded these days. No surprise, given the early mustard blooms and other things starting to come to life. In contrast from some of my mega-hikes of recent years, I’m doing quite a bit of smaller hikes, giving me a chance to explore some city and county parks around the region and often combine two or three small outings into a day. It’s nice to mix up hiking tempo and places. I’ve got a mini-crush developing on the shadows cast by oaks and other trees, and it has been fun to do some tree-spotting, of a kind.

Alston Park – A city-owned park in Napa with about 150 acres and just a few miles of trails. You can do a three-mile walk here in about an hour and meander among the oaks as well as plenty of plum trees. This park is very popular with dog owners as it includes some leashed and unleashed areas. It also parallels Redwood Creek, a small waterway, so you can climb a brief hill and then go into a just-as-brief valley along the water. I liked the numerous spots for a picnic or just a scenic overlook of the Napa Valley. Vineyards border much of the park making it a pungent place as well.

An easy walk that is just minutes from downtown Napa. It’s a fairly exposed parkland so not early spring is a terrific time to be here. Click here for more info.

Foothill Regional Park – Another dog-popular one, this one is in northeast Windsor and includes more than five miles of trails over about 200 acres. There’s a very short, but steep enough, climb to the 425-feet-high peak and as you do a loop in either direction, you’ll go by three different lakes. A few of the trails are fairly muddy, but all are wide enough for the crowds of equestrians, bikers and hikers to co-exist.

There are a couple of hiking-only trails, which are worth taking if they are open. Here’s a trail map of Foothill.

And from the California State Parks Foundation, an opportunity to hike AND help:

China Camp State Park (map):

Sunday, February 24th, 9am – 1pm
This workday will focus on vegetation management in the Back Ranch area. Requires strenuous hiking. There is increased possibility of exposure to poison oak in this area. This work is appropriate for ages 18 and up.

Click here to sign up for a workday.