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So Taylor Mountain Regional Park has been open for all of three months. It came into public ownership quite a while earlier but it has taken some time and money to develop some trails, a parking area, and the other minimal trappings of a public-access county park.

The 1,100-acre open space and nature preserve is a fairly small park in terms of trails. You can circumnavigate the park in a couple of hours and still be leisurely as it has only about 4 miles of trails, some of which are not passable in the rainy season. It’s an exposed park so if you’re heading there this summer, go either very early in the day or closer to sunset. And wear sunscreen and a hat. Not much shade throughout the place. It is a place for a short, vigorous workout, with at least two steep ascents that will test your strength, but aren’t long enough to make you regret the outing.

The best reason to go is the absolutely panoramic view of the Santa Rosa Plain. It may be the best place to see the city proper, and it is worth the climb just for that view. As the park develops, there are plans for another 17 miles of trails as well as a picnic area, restrooms, and equestrian facilities. Some of that will materialize by next summer thanks to a state grant. Larger amenities such as a visitor center and campsites are in the more distant future.

(The first half-dozen photos are from last weekend. The rest of the ones in the gallery above are from a pre-opening trip I made to the park a year ago when it was still being planned.)

Like most regional parks, it is possible to park right outside the park gates and avoid paying the $7 fee (or using your parks pass, which is an excellent deal at $69). I continue to be befuddled why the parks department enables this kind of obvious avoidance of collecting revenue at most of its parks. But knowing how government works from years of writing about it, I’m sure there’s more to the story. Still, I’m glad to be a parks pass owner if it supports new parks like this one.

In summary, Taylor Mountain – named for the mid-19th-century Gold Rush pioneer John Shackleford Taylor – is a nice local park that you can check out before or after your inevitable Santa Rosa Avenue-type errands. Bring the kids, the leashed dogs (watch for grazing cattle throughout the property), your bikes, and a can-do attitude about checking out Santa Rosa’s newest diamond in the rough.

For the full story on how the park became a park, click here.