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A Press Democrat Blog

Trailhead

A blog about Bay Area hiking…. mostly

The best hike in Sonoma County is…..

We asked our readers to name their favorite hiking spot in Sonoma County. Well, we asked readers to pick their favorites in a total of 84 different categories as part of our annual Best of Sonoma County Reader’s Choice Contest. The contest voting just ended, and the votes are now being tabulated. To no surprise, the best hiking spot was overwhelmingly Annadel State Park.  (The rest of the Best of Sonoma County winners will be announced on July 25 at… Read More »

The Sonoma County parks’ Trails Challenge 2014

Hike at five different county parks over the next six months and you’ll be a winner. Well, at least a winner in the first-ever “Trails Challenge” sponsored by Sonoma County Regional Parks. Here’s the information: ____________ The Trails Challenge is an invitation to explore the Regional Parks by hiking five or more trails featured in the Trails Challenge guidebook anytime between June and November. If you complete all five hikes and turn in a trails log, you can receive a… Read More »

On Walden Pond

When Henry David Thoreau wandered into the woods on July 4, 1845, to start his live-in-nature experiment, the setting was a fairly young forest around a pond that had been formed more than 10,000 years earlier by glaciers in the eastern Massachusetts countryside. It is considered a great example of a kettle hole, the name for the sediment left behind by retreating glaciers. Today, Walden Pond is much different but retains enough remnants of that remote isolation. On a recent… Read More »

Hiking on The Big Island (yes, Hawai’i)

My calendar of hikes for the past month has gone something like this: Annadel. Shiloh. Annadel. Hawai’i. Annadel. Annadel. Not the most varied of treks, but that one in the middle was a nice detour from the usual trails. During a recent trip to the biggest of the Hawaiian Islands, known of course as the Big Island, I had the chance to do a mild amount of hiking, in between all the other fun pursuits to be explored on that… Read More »

Fog and wildflowers and Pomo Canyon

It gets overlooked by Point Reyes, but a terrific coastal-view hike right here in our backyard is the trek up and down into Pomo Canyon. Having not been out there in a while, I took advantage of a brilliantly sunny and warm day to head to the beach. Park at the large (and free) parking lot at Shell Beach where there are facilities, ocean views and maps. And then walk across Highway 1 and head upward. It’s a steep climb… Read More »

Whether or not to hike alone

Reading how a 13-year-old shouted away a nearby mountain lion at a regional park in Glen Ellen this week reminded me yet again why hiking alone is not always the smartest choice. Another reminder came a couple of weeks ago when I was about to pull into a trailhead in northern California at Whiskeytown Lake and saw a few bear cubs scurry across the road directly to where I was about to hike. If I had been with a big group,… Read More »

Be a volunteer hawkwatcher in the Marin Headlands

More opportunities to get out. This one involves a bit of looking up. ______________________ The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (GGRO) is currently seeking volunteers to help in its efforts to count, monitor, and track the Golden Gate migration, the largest flight of raptors in the Western U.S. A program of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service, volunteers will complete a comprehensive GGRO training program offered only once a year in July, and early… Read More »

Earth Day to Memorial Day spring parks events in Sonoma County

Passing on information on several events planned by Sonoma County Regional Parks over the next five weeks. See their official release below.     Regional Parks presents Parks Celebration 2014, dozens of free adventures in Sonoma County’s parks and open spaces from Earth Day, April 22, through Memorial Day, May 26. Parks Celebration is an annual series of events highlighting the many ways to enjoy public lands. During Parks Celebration, you can experience favorite parks in new ways or explore parks… Read More »

The great climb and views in Lucas Valley

The single best moment of last weekend’s hike came as I hit the Big Ridge at the top of the trail. I had finished a series of long, pensive switchbacks when I emerged into a clearing and could see the entire world. Well, at least the San Francisco skyline, several bridges, Mounts Diablo, St. Helena and Tam, and, much closer, the lush expansiveness of Lucas Valley. I don’t have enough jaw-dropping moments in my life, but this was one of… Read More »

A thoughtful hike to honor Jonathan Glass

This is a small community, and among those who are outdoors-oriented, whether in advocacy, government, conservation or just recreation (like me!), paths often cross. The handful of organizations that lead many hikes around here and work tirelessly for open space protection and preservation and access include LandPaths, the excellent Santa Rosa-based group that tragically lost its field director one year ago. Jonathan Glass’ death at age 36 shocked many, and there have been numerous tributes and memorials to his work… Read More »

Finding quiet and noise at Tubbs Island

Sometimes, the solitude of a place can be unexpected. On my first visit to the Lower Tubbs Island Trail, I was curious about how a wildlife refuge can exist there. For one, the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge is bordered by two major roadways, a large water body and an active auto racing facility. But heading out on the trail, I found complete silence at first. This trail, nearly 8 miles, is a peaceful oasis. No wonder the bird-watching… Read More »

Which national parks get the most visitors each year?

So the Golden Gate National Recreation Area was the most-visited part of the National Park Service last year. It attracted more than 14 million people. No idea how that number came about as whenever I hike there, I never check in, but maybe cars are counted and other measurements are taken. In any case, when I see a news report with a claim like that, I sometimes put on my old reporter’s hat (yes, I was a reporter long ago….)… Read More »