Foothill Walk Uphill

dog on leash ok

Sonoma County Regional Parks have been hosting Wildflower Walks this spring. I managed to join one last weekend at Foothill Regional Park. For a small park, there’s plenty of hills – the reason I don’t often walk here. But I managed to make the loop around the park – happy with the information I learned about wildflowers and disappointed that what felt like a 5-mile hike was only 2.25 miles.

Foothill Trailhead

It starts innocently at this trailhead off of Arata/Hembree Lns. in Windsor, Ca. The park is an excellent example of an oak savannah. Sonoma County is a busy place for oaks and their ability to hybridize. (Sometimes makes it hard to identify oaks.)

Phil Dean, Master Gardener

This picture of Phil Dean, Master Gardener, was taken at his first stop on the walk (halfway up the first hill on Three Lakes Trail). That’s a manzanita  behind him – he was discussing the blue-bloomed Brodiaea growing low to the ground near him. Yellow Suncups and Buttercups were also along this part of the trail.

Past the ponds (the easy part of the park to walk) was a meadow filled with Blue Dicks.

blue flower Foothill

This part of walk was almost easy on Meadow Trail.

Foothill Trail

On the left -Sun Cups.

Foothill flower

On the right were sky lupines.

Foothill field of sky lupines

Then it got steep, we took a right on Oakwood Trail and I had this view looking back downhill and across the Santa Rosa Plain.

Trail view Foothill

And still we went uphill (a total of a couple hundred feet).

Foothill oaks and reservoir

Through these trees is a pond created by the Greeott Dam. (Chalk Hill Rd is over the hill.) From here the path went up and down and around hillsides. We saw meadows with more lupines and popcorn flower.

At the very top was a picnic area. I couldn’t imagine lugging my food up all this way, but a lovely setting for 3 picnic tables. We were walking along the edge of the park here and on our way back downhill.

Foothill picnic

After a field of soap plants and poison oak, we went past an oak forest and then headed back to the beginning on Westside Trail

More Foothill Oaks

Mind you, I was trying to keep up with Mr. Dean’s spotting of wildflowers and hear his information – so the pictures of wildflowers are sparse. He did not ‘dilly’ nevermind ‘dally.’ Keep up or lose out.

He did spot and discuss – often with information on the uses native people made of the plants – ground iris, sheep sorrel, toyon (bush), stork’s bill, sanicle, yarrow, shooting star, nutgrass, fiddleneck, miner’s lettuce, hound’s tongue, goldfields, footsteps of spring and mules ear. The list he handed out of the plants of Foothill had over 50 plants.

Your assignment, if you choose to accept, is to find the wildflowers of Foothill Regional Park. Beautiful.

For more information: Foothill Park website Foothill Trail Map for more trails.

Our previous walk at Foothill: Walking at Foothill.

Directions: 1351 Arata Lane, Windsor Map.

Wheelchair: There is a parking lot up the first hill, where you can park and have access to the area near the ponds. If you have a permanent disability placard, you can purchase an electronic pass to get through a gate.

Dogs: On 6′ leash.

Picnic tables:  At ponds and up the hill in a few spots.

Bathroom: At trailhead in parking lot, flush, cold water.

See you on the trail!

Words and pictures by Lynn Millar. Mike Millar was on assignment.


YMCA Nature Walk at Sonoma Valley

Saturday, April 19th 10 am -12 pm

Sonoma Valley Regional Park provides a paved path through some beautiful oaks. Depending on this spring’s wildflowers, it’s also a great place to see lupines and California poppies.

Sky Lupines Foothill

We’ll only take a 2.25 mi walk, but there’s an introduction to more trails and access to Lake Suttonfield in the area.

A Regional Park, parking is by annual pass or $7/vehicle day use. 13630 Highway 12, Glen Ellen

We’ll  accommodate for wheelchairs.

Sorry, no pets on this walk. Service animals are fine.

Sponsored by the Y, there is no cost and you don’t have to be a Y member.

For map, visit park’s website.

Things to Do – Spring Has Come

Do you need some things to do this gorgeous spring? Not that you haven’t been already.

Senior Walkabouters

I’ve been walking with this group along Santa Rosa Creek for about a year. Recently, I’ve been exploring other places with them. They go so many places and almost every day. There are weekly walks and solos – as one woman is leading walks on different sections of the Bay Trail. Please visit their site, sign up and find the walk that’s just right for you. (There are other Meetup groups in the area for more strenuous hikes or other types of activities.)

Howarth Park


Sonoma County Regional Parks -  Wildflower Walks -
March 22 to May 3

Every Saturday at 10 AM sharp are wildflower walks with different themes at one of the Regional Parks led by volunteer Phil Dean, a Master Gardner

Click on the heading above or the flower to find out more. Brief basics below.

Wildflower Walk – Native Magic
Sonoma Valley Regional Park
3/22/2014 10:00 AM

Wildflower Walk – Death, Spirits, Alcohol & Other Strange Plants and Tales
Steelhead Beach
3/29/2014 10:00 AM

Wildflower Walk – Native Magic & Cures
Crane Creek Regional Park
4/5/2014 10:00 AM
I’ll be there.

Wildflower Walk – Fields of Color
Foothill Regional Park
4/12/2014 10:00:00 AM

Wildflower Walk – Alcohol, Spirits and Fatal Beauties
4/19/ 2014 10:00AM – 12:00PM
Riverfront Regional Park

Wildflower Walk – Magical Color & Ingredients
Shiloh Regional Park
4/26/2014 10:00 AM
Moderately difficult – but I’m going to try.

Wildflower Walks – Rare & Unusual
Hood Mountain Regional Park – Los Alamos Road
5/3/2014 8:00 AM
Hood Mtn is a 5 hour commitment with steep climbing.


Stewards of the Coast & Redwoods

Click on the heading to go to a registration form. Many activities and volunteering. Fill in some blanks about yourself, scroll down to a heading “I would like to register for the following Educational Seminars:” — Select your choice – $10/each.

Geology of Sonoma Coast
Saturday, March 22, 2014
9:30 am – 3 pm, bring lunch, Shell Beach and Bodega Head
Instructor: Rebecca Perlroth, Geology Instructor, SRJC

Plants of the Redwood Understory Seminar
Sunday, March 23, 2014
1 pm – 4:00 pm, Armstrong Redwoods, Stewards’ office/Volunteer Center
Instructor: Sherrie Althouse, Co-Owner California Flora Nursery


Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation

has open house once a month – the next one is April 12th. Center is open daily to visitors, picnic, self-guided birdwalk at 900 Sanford Rd, Santa Rosa

After you click on the heading or the picture, go to Public Education to find more information on these 2 events.

3-20-14 All about Swallows

3-28-14 Birds of the Laguna slide show and then a walk on the 29th.


New Walking Class

Everything you wanted to know about walking – with a real-life walk. The class is geared towards people over 50, who are just starting to exercise or need to get back in shape. Walking should be fun – and it will be.

Starting on May 6th, I will be leading a walking class at the Person Senior Center (behind the Finley Center) on West College in Santa Rosa. You can sign up by visiting the center or online at   Once at the page enter barcode 72328. There’s a different code for each month. Currently there’s a schedule through September. Every Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9am – 10am.

Walking at Doran Beach & Birdwalk

dog leash

Lately, we’ve been to Doran Beach a couple of times. Even with the newly paved road along the beach, we like to visit via the Birdwalk at Cheney Creek. Still part of Doran Beach Regional Park, it allows access through the wetland and can be a great birdviewing spot.

Since I’ve been practicing with my new phone/camera, these pictures are more utilitarian than beautiful as Mike supplies. (Gray pictures are from February and sunny pictures from March 2014)

From the parking lot at Birdwalk, there are two paved ramps up to the trail.

Trailhead for Birdwalk at Cheney Gulch Continue reading

Doran Beach Revisited

dog leashThe latest YMCA walk started at the Bird Walk, just north of Doran Beach entrance. We made a loop around the dredge pond and admired the view to the mountains north to Tomales Pt. to the south and west to Bodega Head.

Crossing the marsh we stopped to see a flock of Great Egrets lining the marsh on watch. Dianne, the egret’s photographer, said last week they were all perched in a cypress, as if the tree was decorated for the season.

We proceeded to the beach and had much more sand than in the pictures below, even though it was near high tide and a full moon.

Great Egret

Great Egret courtesy of D. Hunt

Continue reading

Walking News

Yes, I’m still working on a guidebook – so in the meantime – here’s some news. Click the hyperlinks (bold and underlined text) to travel to those place.


Road at Doran Beach is done! This is terrific even though we won’t need it for the walk on November 16th. Click for the Parks page on that walk. Check the Regional Parks Calendar for other events.


If you’re interested in the Southeast Greenway (that open space that was almost a freeway), go to their newsletter for an update. The State has formally decided not to build a freeway. (After all these years!!) Click on to SE Greenway.


Hopefully, you know how popular (and fun) walking is. Groups are forming everywhere. There’s Walk San Francisco, kind of a save-the-pedestrian effort – not an easy task if you’ve heard the news lately.

As an article reports on the SFGate site, San Francisco ranked number two nationally (NYC was #1) in walkability. Of course, Ms. Gobets, the article’s author,  indicates that a recent study shows 3 pedestrians a day are hit by vehicles. To check on 2,500 cities + neighborhoods go to Walk Score. They also rank cities on bike-friendly and transit-friendly.


My new favorite group is Walk Sitka. Who knew? But they won designation as a bronze-level Walk Friendly Communities. a national organization. They are active walkers and advocates for walking.

Do you know about Meet Ups? There’s a very active walking group in Santa Rosa. Click on Senior Walkabouters. Saturday one group is going to Gerstle Cove and one is joining a walk in the Laguna. Monday some are walking along the Santa Rosa Creek while others walk the Golden Gate Bridge and Crissy Field. And next Friday, it’s camping at Pinnacles National Park. There has to be some place for you to go.


If you would like to help me with the guidebook, please click guidebook.

Have you taken a walk today?

Jack London State Historic Park

Jack London State Historic Park

Not a Flat Walk at Taylor Mountain

The name is a giveaway -  that Taylor Mountain would not be a flat walk. But I was game to give it a try. It helps that the parking lot is part of the way uphill and if you can only get that far you can still have a hillside picnic.

Taylor Mountain Picnic Table

This is a new Sonoma County Regional Park, that you can access off of Kawana Terrace in Santa Rosa. Pay for the parking or use your Annual Pass. Only about 4 miles of trails exist now, but more are planned. Continue reading

Monthly Walks at Spring Lake

Spring Lake Regional Park is one of the most popular places to walk in Santa Rosa. But I bet there’s a few things you don’t know about the area. To find some answers, please join a naturalist the first Saturday of each month for a most knowledgeable walk.

Spring Lake

Spring Lake walk in the rain

While the picture is on a rainy day, I think this Saturday July 6th will not have rain nor 100 degree temperature.

Part of a Bay Area program for Healthy Parks Healthy People, the walk starts at the swimming lagoon. Just over a 2-mile loop, you’ll only climb a dam once. (Unless they take the low road.) For more information click Walk. Time: 9am to 10:30am

For easiest access, enter at the North Entrance: 393 Violetti Road, Santa Rosa.  Fee is $7/ per car. But consider an annual pass. (It’s a terrific bargain for over 50 regional parks.)

Other activities at the park: Swimming, boating, fishing, camping and picnicking. Don’t forget the Discovery Center!

Spring Lake vista

Spring Lake Vista

For our take on the park, please click Spring Lake.

Words by Lynn Millar, Photos by Mike Millar