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A Press Democrat Blog

Trailhead

A blog about Bay Area hiking…. mostly

Dry and dusty atop Bald Mountain

Since rain seems imminent here for the first time in a few years (or so they say…), I’m posting a blog about an extremely dry hike that highlighted the drought we’re experiencing. Consider it a rain dance of sorts. The destination was the 2,729-feet-high summit of Bald Mountain, one of the peaks within Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Since it’s been 70+ and sunny in recent weeks, it’s a great time to do the hike. Our loop took us nearly seven… Read More »

Brunch and benefit hike at Sugarloaf

Haven’t been to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in a while? One of the area’s best hiking groups – Bill & Dave Hikes – is leading a benefit hike and brunch to the top of Bald Mountain. It will be this Saturday morning, Jan. 26, and your reward for making it to the top of the mountain will be a picnic brunch from of Vineyards Inn in Kenwood. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday and a worthy cause. For… Read More »

Trail to trail at Sugarloaf Ridge

It’s nice to see the gates open again at Sugarloaf State Ridge State Park. They weren’t closed long, but like other state parks, they battled the perception for the past year that they have either been closed, partially closed or just abandoned. Not quite the case, but in any event, I headed there for a hike last weekend on what turned out to be a very hot, dry day. It’s not surprising to see why wildfires are proving so problematic… Read More »

Rare chance to get inside Sugarloaf

If you’ve tried to get into Sugarloaf Ridge State Park recently, you’ve noticed the difficulty. In addition to the park gates being closed, there are no-parking signs posted in places outside the park where people would often park. And even where there aren’t signs posted, tickets are still being given out. Which does make me wonder if resources are so strapped that a ranger can’t be at the park, why the big effort to ticket cars that bother to park… Read More »

Mono Lake safe, Sugarloaf Ridge not

I’ve never been to Mono Lake, located just east of Yosemite, but I’ve heard the 1-million-year-old watering hole is gorgeous. It’s also having an early Christmas as it just got removed from the state parks’ closure list. How did they do it? More than 4,000 signatures to the governor’s office helped, but more important was the role of a local nonprofit foundation that stepped into the void and will handle collections of parking fees and help keep an eye on… Read More »

Falling back into the hiking routine

A fellow hiker atop Gunsight Rock

It’s been a busy few months for me (go figure!), so my regular rhapsodic schedule of long all-day hiking outings has been interrupted. But I’ve managed to do a bunch of short hikes recently, squeezing in a quickie here and there when time permits. Or even when it doesn’t. I hope you’ve been doing the same. The fall is an amazing time to get out and see the seasonal transformation of nature, and a cool morning quickly heats up with… Read More »

Back up to Gunsight Rock

I’m not sure why the top of Hood Mountain is called Mount Hood, but it is close to Santa Rosa, offers terrific views, provides a challenging climb, and is where I headed recently for a hike. Specifically, I was headed to Gunsight Rock. The rocky outcropping is a perfect place to sit – some 2,700 feet up – and look over Kenwood, eastern Santa Rosa and, on a clear day, much further than that. There are several different ways to… Read More »

Grim news for state parks system

Here we go again. A year and half after avoiding the budget axe, it was announced today that a quarter of the state park system is slated to be shut down starting this fall. The news shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has been living through California’s long fiscal nightmare. A day ago, the headlines were about 45 percent (yup, 45 percent) college tuition hikes. A week ago, it was widespread teacher layoffs. The parks closure is going to hit… Read More »

Not your typical honeymoon

Not feeling well, out of money, and seeing his career prospects fading quickly, the newcomer to California needed a break. So he headed to Calistoga thinking the mountain air would rejuvenate him. Plus, it was his honeymoon so what better place to spend it than a Napa Valley excursion. Local history buffs know the story of Robert Louis Stevenson, who turned his bucolic Napa visit into a two-month stay, literally squatting in a cabin on the side of Mount Saint… Read More »