A Press Democrat Blog


A blog about Bay Area hiking…. mostly

Where to find waterfalls on the North Coast

With its abundance of public parkland and open space, the North Coast is too full of gushing streams and cascading creek flows to mention them all, but a short list would include Sonoma Creek Falls in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park; Alamere Falls in the Point Reyes National Seashore; the Fern Canyon falls in Russian Gulch State Park; and Chamberlain Creek Falls in the Jackson State Demonstration Forest. The Mount Tamalpais Watershed boasts several well-known waterfalls, including Carson Falls and Cataract… Read More »

Hike of the week: Marin County’s Cataract Falls

CATARACT CANYON – The sound of rushing water floods your ears even before Cataract Creek is fully in view, descending the northern flank of Mount Tamalpais amid a riot of boulders, lush moss, graceful ferns and arching trees. Prepare to be amazed by this magical place, where each step along the trail reveals some new variation on the blend of rocks and water responsible for a mile-and-a-half-long series of cascades known collectively as Cataract Falls. Like coastal creeks around the… Read More »

Hike of the week: Salt Point State Park Prairie Loop

Dramatic coastal views, crisp ocean air, mushroom dotted forest floors, windy sweep prairies and pygmy forests. Salt Point State Park has a lot to offer in its 6,000 acres, including 20 miles of hiking trails, 6 miles of coastline and an underwater park. We spent the day exploring the woody inland portion of the park surrounding Woodside campground, where late season mushroom hunters are still digging up delicacies to take home for an earthy winter meal. This time of year,… Read More »

Ride of the week: Joe Rodota Trail

Fifteen years ago, I was a bicycle commuter in Seattle. My old pink Bianchi was decked out with black fenders and I wore rain gear to protect myself from the elements. Come rain or come shine, I rode to work, 11 miles uphill, along a popular urban bike path, the Burke-Gillman Trail. This week I thought of Seattle fondly as I took a wet spin on the Joe Rodota Trail. Approximately 6 miles of paved trail run from Railroad square… Read More »

Santa Rosa’s Lake Ilsanjo

Dozens of hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and a few anglers took to the trails on the day after Christmas, all on their way to Lake Ilsanjo in the heart of Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa. It was warm and sunny, a perfect day to navigate the meandering routes that all seem to lead to what may be the park’s most popular feature. From Channel Drive, which serves as the park’s entryway, Lake Ilsanjo is accessible via two trails,… Read More »

Gualala Point Regional Park to Sea Ranch

  When The Sea Ranch was first developed along the Sonoma Coast in the 1970s, view spots along its 10-mile coastline were reserved for residents of the exclusive community. All that changed in 1981 when the California Coastal Conservancy granted a 15-foot-wide pedestrian easement along the headlands. Today, that bluff-top easement is part of a 7.5-mile coastal trail that stretches south from Gualala Point Regional Park, with five shorter trails that lead down to the ocean from Highway 1. The… Read More »

Foothill Regional Park, a year-round favorite

    Foothill Regional Park is a year-round staple for hiking in my family. Of the 211 acres of former ranchland, 6.8 miles of trails are available to hike, run or bike. This time of year, a few golden and russet leaves cling to trees, and moss and lichen dapple the leafless branches. Deer and ducks are abundant in the park, taking advantage of the 3 ponds and sparse patches of remaining greenery. For a leisurely hike try Three Lakes… Read More »

Hike off those holiday feasts on Calistoga’s Oat Hill Mine Trail

Looking for a good day hike after Christmas to work off  those extra calories? Waddle on over to Napa County for a picturesque intermediate level adventure on the Oat Hill Mine Trail. The 8 to 10 mile trip will take your whole day, so get there early to make sure you have enough time. And yes, it is dog friendly so pack up the whole family  and the pooch and hit the the trail. The Oat Hill Mike Trail is actually… Read More »

A Harvest Widow’s lament, finding the value of repetition

This fall, I have learned the value of consistency. As all harvest widows can relate, it is hard to carve out time for physical fitness, when you are juggling the responsibilities of home and work without your partner.  My overly ambitious goal of hiking every trail on the Sonoma County Regional Parks Trails Challenge roster, may not be met this year, as I have not had the time to travel to some of the parks in the farther reaches of… Read More »

A Flashpacker’s Guide to Isla Bastimentos

Sailing around the isles of Bocas del Toro, Panama; hiding from a light drizzle, Green Flash tours owner, Bryan Blaze described my travel companions and I as “flashpackers.” Backpackers, who are a little bit older, with more cash to burn on their short holidays. The term, although new to me, has been kicking around for some years now. Some extend the description to “geeky hipsters’” with backpacks filled with iPads, laptops, GPS, and more. All of which could be used… Read More »

Trails for Taylor Campaign and Challenge Hike #4

  In honor of the Sonoma County Regional Parks, “Trails for Taylor Campaign”, Trailhead decided to hit Taylor Mountain this week. The 1,100-acre park includes 5 miles of trails with some of the most strenuous hikes featured in this year’s Trails Challenge . Currently, the park/ open space preserve, has 5 miles of trails available for hiking, including a a climb to the summit of Taylor Mountain. The fundraising drive hopes to expand this to 15 miles. Contributions can be… Read More »

Trail Challenge Hike #2: Ragle Ranch Regional Park

  Sunday morning, after a quick stop at the Sebastopol Farmer’s Market, Sylvester and I headed out to Ragle Ranch Regional Park for a  trail run. The Regional Parks Challenge guidebook recommends a perimeter hike on the 1.50 mile, Blackberry trail.  Visiting on the weekend, the picnic tables were packed, but the trails were not too busy. Sylvester and I covered the entire trail, in about a half hour of running and stopping occasionally for a sniff and photo. The… Read More »