Located at the upper end of Dry Creek Valley, Lake Sonoma offers a nice family area for picnicking, swimming, bank fishing, and picnics. Yorty Creek is located far up the Dry Creek arm and can be accessed by car from the city of Cloverdale. Facilities include chemical toilets, free sheltered picnic areas, a car-top boat launch (no trailers allowed), and a swim beach. Sorry, no drinking water is available at Yorty Creek. Yorty Creek is managed as a day use area. Boat-in campers wishing to launch and park overnight at Yorty Creek must check in with the visitor center and obtain a parking permit to avoid receiving a citation. Swim at your own risk, as there is no lifeguard on duty and please keep an eye on your children. Sorry, no glass or dogs allowed on the swim beach.
At the Lake Sonoma Marina, you can rent ski boats, fishing boats, canoes and kayaks. You can even have a floating party on a pontoon Patio Boat, which can be rented up to 24 hours at a time! The store/deli has handmade sandwiches, drinks (beer, water, soda, etc) and camping supplies. 707-433-2200. lakesonoma.com
Stop at the Visitors Center and The Don Clausen Fish Hatchery, the most modern fish hatchery in the State of California. The lake preserves much of the scenic natural sprawl of the two drainages and their numerous stream-laced side canyons and supports an array of wildlife that includes golden eagles, mountain lions, and even a pair of endangered peregrine falcons. The damp earth of its creekside trails holds the prints of deer and raccoons, as well as the skitterings of rabbits and mice. Before the water-scooter enthusiasts get going in earnest in late May, hikers and canoeists in this 18,000-acre park can enjoy a quiet unbroken by the buzz of waterborne motors.
Hiking: There are 40 miles of Sonoma hiking trails that are shared with horseback riders. Forty miles of trails lead through continually varying terrain. You can traverse open grasslands dominated by the complex silhouettes of ancient oaks, climb canyons shaded by thickly growing redwoods and bays, or explore woodlands dappled with sunlight filtering through a wild scramble of red-trunked madrones.
For a low-commitment introduction, try the mile-long Woodland Ridge Trail near the visitor center, where you can get an interpretive leaflet for the loop as well as a trail map for the entire park.
A 4-mile sampler of the park’s diverse habitats that also gives fine views of both arms of the lake starts at the Little Flat trailhead. Walk west and then south to pick up Bummer Peak Trail, then go northwest on Half A Canoe bike path, taking an unsigned trail north to No Name Flat. From here, follow Rockpile Road east about 1/3 mile to Digger Pine Flat, then zigzag downhill through a wooded canyon to Dry Creek Trail, which returns you to Little Flat.
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma offers Guided Horseback Trail Rides.
A 4-mile sampler of the park’s diverse habitats starts at the Little Flat trailhead. That trail also gives fine views of both arms of the lake.
Hikers looking for more remote country might try Rancheria Creek Trail, at the west end of the lake’s Warm Springs arm. From the marina exit on Stewarts Point Road, drive west 10 miles to cross a low concrete bridge; continue 1 mile, then turn sharply right on an unmarked (but paved) road that twists about 3 miles downhill through private ranch land to dead-end at the park’s boundary. Walk toward the lake to pick up the trail, then wander in either direction. •parks.sonoma.net/laktrls.html •lakesonoma.com