Walking around a Lake in Sonoma Valley

We’ve been going to Sonoma Valley Regional Park for many years. Only last year did we realize there’s a lake up the hill. See, we really are dedicated to the low grounds and rarely venture up hill.

The lake is within the Sonoma Development Center in the town of Eldridge, just south of Glen Ellen. One side of Arnold Drive goes to the backside of Jack London State Park. The other side connects to the Regional Park. There are lakes in the State Park too.

Not sure I can tell you how we went, so the best suggestion is from Arnold Drive near the Regional Park. No cost. The other way is up the hill from the parking lot off of Hwy 12 at the main entrance to the Sonoma Valley Regional Park. Buy a pass and you get in 43 other parks in the County.

Up the dam to the lake is about a 40’ climb. Our route was short. From Arnold it would be longer, so it wouldn’t seem so steep. The lake is worth the effort. Lakes are especially important to Mike who spent his summers in Wisconsin. Californian Lakes are usually reservoirs as is this Lake Suttonfield. But it looks pretty good.

The hills around the lake are oak woodlands with some meadows. There are also Madrones and Manzanita, which were blooming. The day we went the air and lake was clear. It was almost too warm in the open areas, though most of the trail is shaded by oaks.

A two-mile trail circles the lake to offer a view of water and the nearby hills. The top of the dam is wide old pavement and much of the rest of the trail is narrow uneven dirt with some ups and downs. It was soggy near the lake’s outlet and in wetter times, you’ll have to wade or take a longer walk around the area.

From the dam and directly across the lake from it, there’s a view of San Pablo Bay and the East Bay mountains.

Ranch view from Lake Suttonfield Trail

In the shade of the oaks, wallflower and hound’s tongue were blooming. Wallflower has multi-headed white blossoms. Hound’s tongue sounds awful, but is a delicate purple flower with a white center. Poison oak was plentiful and just putting out its leaves. Buckeye trees were also just putting out they’re leaves. (They bloom in June.)

Grebes, mergansers and coots gathered in one spot on the lake. Above us we spotted a woodpecker and a one point Mike heard an osprey.

We shared the trail with walkers, joggers and dogwalkers. One woman was on her horse. The mood was festive celebrating a sunny warm day in winter. We’ll make the effort again.

See you on the trail!

Lynn Millar

Photos by Mike Millar

Other: We went on to Jack London State Park. At House of Happy Walls, there’s a new room open with displays about the Londons’ trip to the South Pacific and some of their books.

Bathroom: Portapotties at the parking lot at Sonoma Valley Regional Park entrance. One in London State Park by House of Happy Walls was closed.

Food: Many choices. Our favorite is the Fig Café in Glen Ellen. Excellent salad and the most delicate and delicious pizza.

Other nearby Walks: Sonoma Valley Regional ParkJack London Park and Sugarloaf Ridge

Lake Suttonfield from Development Center

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