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.

Walk in Redding? Maybe not in August


When you plan to travel 2,000 miles to many new places, it doesn’t hurt to stop first at a familiar place.

The dynamic Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge across the Sacramento River in Redding, CA is a ‘must see.’ But, it was a little warm. The lack of people – I’d normally say is just fine – now seemed odd.

Calatrava Sundial Bridge Redding Continue reading

A Walk at a Secret Garden

North of Jenner, CA along Highway 1 are several pullouts. In some places, there’s an overlook to the harbor seals sprawled on the beach near the mouth of the Russian River. (Sometimes, the mouth is closed.) In some places, there are closed access points to the State Parks. (Why? I don’t know, but makes me angry on so many levels. People use them anyway.)

And in some places, there’s only parking for a couple of cars. My favorite is a clifftop that provides a short walk and a gorgeous garden, with ocean view.

Rocky North Coast Continue reading

Wildflowers in Pacific Grove

Museum Guard

Someone’s watching you at the entrance to the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. But it’s okay. Pay a visit to this charming museum. Mark your calendar for next April to see the wildflowers collected from all over the state. Collected samples are thanks to the California Native Plant Society. Continue reading

Dreams Do Come True – Walking Healdsburg Ridge

Several years ago, we walked up a steep slope to a beautiful meadow. The wildflowers were outstanding, but I didn’t have the guts for a return trip.

The lovely people at LandPaths, City of Healdsburg, and Open Space District have put in perfect zigs and zags of switchbacks. Now I can visit more often. All the trails are much improved. When we visited, not all the signage was complete. So, wander hither and thither. Just watch out for the poison oak.

Here are Mike’s recent pictures. Here’s a link to The Heights of Healdsburg three years ago. Continue reading

A 2-day Walk on Roseland Creek?

It took us 2 days to walk Roseland Creek, not because it’s that long (3 mi roundtrip), but a hot day in August needed a cooler day in September to complete.

Near a relatively recent (10 years in old people time) housing development, there is access to a trail along Roseland Creek. Starting on a paved path next to townhomes, we headed west. Planted redwoods and coast live oaks lined the path. We passed a playground area with picnic tables and then single- family homes.

Roseland Creek Trail Start

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Thwarted Walking II – Pomo Canyon

This time the thwarting of a walk wasn’t due to lack of trail, but more because of an excess of chronic diseases and  ill-working joints that struggle on a sharp climb.

But we choose to test ourselves from time to time and I had my poles. We’ve loved our hikes on Red Hill and thought we’d come up the ‘easier’ backside above Pomo Canyon. The park is on Willow Creek Rd off Hwy 1 at the Russian River.

Pomo Canyon Trail

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