Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, a 2700-acre park in the mountains above the Sonoma Valley, is still worth a visit even for people who need a flat walk.
Just past the entrance kiosk, on the left, is a parking lot, with a trailhead to Bald Mountain and to Meadow Trails.
This first section of the trail does go uphill a little, so if you need it really flat, take the paved road past the horse stable and start Meadow Trail near the Ferguson Observatory.
If you do take the hill, the trail is dirt and gravel and a bit uneven.
Don’t forget to stop and turn around catching what views you can. The trail continues uphill with zigzags before coming down.
Once you come down the hill on the other side, you’ll walk by Venus and some picnic tables to your right and the Robert Ferguson Observatory on your left.
Across the road is this sign about walking to Pluto. This represents our Sun and markers for different planets are proportionally spread along the trails. If you are looking at this sign, Mercury is behind you (by the portapottie) and Earth is on the building of the Ferguson Observatory.
The Meadow Trail continues to the left of this sign out a flat gravel road. Markers indicate the other planets you will pass. Most of the trail is open to the meadow, but as it gets closer to Sonoma Creek, the vegetation and trees will increase.
When we walked here recently for the walk I led for the Sonoma County YMCA, we stopped to rest and chat on a bridge over Sonoma Creek.
We turned around here for a 2.6 mile walk, returning on the road by the stables back to the parking lot, rather than going up and over the hill again.
If you are ready for more of a hike, you can cross the bridge and take a trail to your left. This goes up the mountain to Pluto on Brushy Peaks Trail and can go to Bald Mtn. (see trail map) If you follow the trail to the right, on Hillside Trail, you’ll get views like this one below. The trail continues into the park’s campground.
to the Visitors’ Center. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park was slated to be closed in 2012. A non-profit group, called Team Sugarloaf, has taken over management of the park. They have managed to keep it open and have many events organized to make your visit memorable. One of the team, welcomed our walking group. For more information, click events.
Thank you Team Sugarloaf for all your efforts.
Fees: Can change. Website didn’t want to commit. Probabley $8/vehicle or use your annual State Park pass.
Picnic tables: Near the parking lot, near the bridge on the creek and a few hillside places.
Wheelchair: roadway and Meadow Trail, sure!
Benches: Random spots. Some with views.
Dogs: Not on trails, but okay in parking lots and campgrounds.
Bathrooms: Pit toilets, portapotties.
Please check park’s website for more information about the park’s history, camping and horseback riding. This park is so large, one section of it can only be accessed through Hood Mtn Regional Park.
For our previous visit to Sugarloaf, please click Walking Below the Ridge.
See you on the trail!
Words by Lynn Millar, photos by Lynn and Mike Millar