Walking the North Bay

A year ago we tried the Bay Trail south of Sonoma. This time without Infineon Raceway noise or a 3 mile trek to the water, we found a better flat walk. We started at an access point to the Sonoma Baylands right off Hwy 37 after turning toward the Sonoma Marin Marina. Not a pretty start, but I thought of it as — rugged.

A short (1/4 mi.) walk on a road and across the railroad tracks, we got to a trail on the levee. It separates the Bay’s wetlands from the agricultural fields.

Cross the tracks at Sonoma Baylands

We were expecting another sparse area, because of the harvested fields and the harsh wetlands – but we were pleasantly surprised. The Bay Institute with STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed) have worked hard to bring native plants to the banks of the levee.

While much of the area  sports coyote bush, mustard and anise, the restored area was filled with blooming monkeyflower, rose and poppies. Healthy hedges of yellow flowered gumweed bordered the plantings. Hummingbirds were happy.

We don’t often see animals on our morning walks, just their droppings. But we saw many rabbits and ground squirrels at the beginning of the walk.

Farther along the trail the star thistle, Italian Thistles and wild radish predominated. Periodically, there were benches for resting with a view to the water, but they were in a bit of disrepair or overgrown with plants.

Bench with wetland view Sonoma Baylands

About a mile and a half out the levee, the distance from Hwy 37 was greater and so road noise decreased. A sign marked the end of the trail and stated more of this Bay Trail will be continued in the future. There were other tempting places to walk but we restrained ourselves.

Looking back from trial end Sonoma Baylands

It must have been the wrong time for the birds to enjoy the wetland, but a few willets squawked in flight and some avocets and egrets worked the mud. In the distance over the bay several buses of birds (Canada geese?) flew west.

I wished that we could have been closer to the bay. Not willing to wait for the tide to come in, I was glad for a view of the bay, the San Rafael/Richmond Bridge and the gorgeous Mt. Tamalpais.

Mountain Tamalpais view

I’m glad that the Bay Institute, other organizations and many people have worked to restore the wetlands of the bay.

Open sunrise to sunset. Dogs on a leash – like most places in Sonoma County. Bikes okay, though it’s too short to be much of challenge – unless you like to take on Hwy 37.

For our last walk by the bay, click here.

See you on the trail!

Lynn Millar

Pictures by Mike Millar


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