by Sarah Amador
Snuggling with your dog is great, but experts say that it is during the walk that you form the real relationship with your canine. With this incredible weather, spring flowers almost emerging before our eyes, hummingbirds darting over our heads—it’s time to take our dogs to the hills and soak up some splendor.
Whether you live in Windsor or Jenner, finding a good dog hike nearby is not a problem. One of the best things about Sonoma County is that there is likely a good dog hike within a few miles of your neighborhood, no matter where you are.
If your idea of a hike with your dog is an easy stroll through lush green grass, expansive oaks and tall redwoods and firs, then visit Ragle Ranch in Sebastopol. (During the summer, on Thursdays from 4 pm to dusk, you can enjoy the added bonus of food trucks offering a smorgasbord of ways to sate your appetite.) Last Sunday, my husband and I checked out the park with our pack (Pono and our new dog, Luna). It was quiet and serene. I’d never have guessed that many neighborhoods bordered it; I never heard a car’s engine speed by. There are many easy hikes in the park, complete with scenic and meadow views. We even spotted an edible mushroom (a bolete) when we were there!
I already knew I owed a lot to Sonoma County Regional Parks. But I was surprised to learn that most dog friendly hikes in our county are within their parks. Seven out of the ten hike spots suggested below are in a Sonoma County Regional Park.
Here’s a list of my top 10 dog friendly hike sites:
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve: 805 acres.
Redwoods tower in this temperate rainforest. Creeks flow in winter.
(Dogs are only allowed on paved roads in the grove.)
Healdsburg Ridge: 155 acres
Birding; views of mountains and Lake Sonoma.
3. Rohnert Park
Crane Creek Regional Park: 128 acres
Rolling grassland and creek views; birding.
Helen Putman Regional Park: 216 acres
Panoramic views; birding.
5. Santa Rosa
Spring Lake Regional Park: 320 acres
Lake and hill views. Wildlife includes geese and otter!
6. Santa Rosa
Hood Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve: 1,750 acres
Panoramic views with glimpses of Golden Gate Bridge from Gunsight Rock and Valley View Trail. This park contains 19 miles of trails.
7. Santa Rosa / Sebastopol
Joe Rodota Trail: 8.47 miles of paved trail from Santa Rosa (Prince Memorial Greenway) to Sebastopol.
Golden fields of mustard at end of winter; distant hill views.
Ragle Ranch Regional Park: 157 acres
9. Sonoma County Beaches
Portuguese Beach: 1 mile long
Wildlife and birding observation; ocean views.
Foothill Regional Park: 211 acres
6.8 miles of trails. Birding and lake views.