Cradled between the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountain ranges, Sonoma Valley encompasses a pastoral patchwork of vineyards, quaint farms and 13,000 acres of scenic parkland. Sonoma Valley is also the closest wine region to San Francisco, just 45 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the center of town, the eight-acre Sonoma Plaza is a National Historic Landmark, strewn with sprawling shade trees and bordered by carefully preserved adobe buildings. Up the road in Glen Ellen, author and bohemian adventurer Jack London lived and wrote at his pristine Beauty Ranch, now an 800-acre state historic park.

Sonoma Valley abounds with wonderful hiking and biking routes. Here, we’ve highlighted a few of the best, those which showcase Sonoma’s culture, history, winemaking and natural beauty:

Sonoma History and Wineries

The Plaza makes an excellent starting and finishing point for two popular hike and bike routes. Here are some highlights:

Wineries

The wineries on this route reflect the evolution of Sonoma Valley. Buena Vista Winery, Sebastiani and Gundlach Bundschu represent some of the oldest wineries in California, while gems like Ravenswood and Bartholomew Park Winery are recent legends in their own right.

The Mission and The Barracks

Founded in 1823, The Mission marks the northern end of “The King’s Highway”--El Camino Real. Across the street, adobe barracks were built to house Mexican army troops during the mid 1800s.

Lachryma Montis

Shipped around the Horn and assembled in Sonoma in 1852, the charming gothic revival house “Lachryma Montis” (Tear of the Mountain) was inhabited by General Vallejo and his family for more than 35 years. 

Vella Cheese and The Patch

Pick up some award-winning cheese from historic Vella Cheese Co. and farm-fresh produce at The Patch to keep your energy up! The folks at Vella Cheese will walk you through a great tasting of their artisan jack cheeses.

Sonoma Garden Park

A community garden oasis where bikers and hikers can rest and rejuvenate

On Foot:

  • Start at the Mission and the Barracks at the north end of the Plaza
  • Continue N on 1st St E to the bike path
  • Head W on the path to Lachryma Montis
  • Retrace steps E on bike path, passing Vella Cheese and The Patch to Sebastiani Winery
  • Return to Plaza by heading S on 4th St E, then W on E Spain

On Bike:

  • Follow directions above to Sebastiani Winery, then continue E on Lovall Valley Road
  • N on Gehricke Rd to Ravenswood Winery
  • S on Ghericke Rd
  • W on Lovall Valley Rd
  • NW on Castle Road to Bartholomew Park Winery
  • SE on Castle Road
  • E on Lovall Valley Road
  • NW on Old Winery Road to Buena Vista Winery
  • SE on Old Winery Road
  • E on Lovall Valley Rd
  • SW on Thornberry until you reach Gundlach Bundschu
  • W on Bundschu Rd
  • NW on Denmark Rd
  • N on 7th St E
  • W on W MacArthur St
  • N on 2nd St E
  • W on W Napa St back to the Plaza

Walking: DISTANCE 5000 steps / 2.5 miles DIFFICULTY easy CO2 EMISSIONS PREVENTED 2.75 pounds

Bicycling: DISTANCE 9.7 miles DIFFICULTY moderate CO2 EMISSIONS PREVENTED 10.67 pounds

Sonoma Overlook Trail

The Sonoma Overlook Trail is a pristine 3-mile walking path that winds along wooded hillsides all the way up to a lookout point that gazes out upon Sonoma Valley.

A diverse array of native plants and animals can be observed along the gentle-grade trail, as well as spectacular panoramas of Sonoma Valley and the Bay Area from the meadow at the trail’s top.

Docent-led hikes (see below) are available for students and adults many weekends. The trail is open to the public for walking during daylight hours.

Sonoma Overlook Trail’s main trailhead lies at the entrance to the Mountain Cemetery, off 1st Street West, just four blocks north of the Plaza. The upper trailhead takes off from Toyon Road within the Mountain Cemetery.

Bicycles, dogs and horses are not permitted on the trail.

Trained docents knowledgeable about the trail’s flora, fauna and history occasionally provide guided walks and are also available to guide private groups. Please visit sonomaecologycenter.org for more information

Directions:

  • Start at First St W on the north end of the Plaza
  • Continue N on 1st St W to the Mountain Cemetery entrance
  • Head N on the trail from the Lower Trail Head
  • Continue on trail up the hill to the Upper Loop and Memorial Bench
  • Return down the hill on the trail to the Upper Trail head
  • Head S on Cedar and then Palm Walk back to the Mountain Cemetery entrance

DISTANCE 6000 steps / 3 miles DIFFICULTY moderate CO2 EMISSIONS PREVENTED 3.3 pounds

Sonoma Valley Regional Park

This 162-acre park has paved and dirt trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Picnic areas with tables and a lawn area are available at the trail head. The area features picturesque oak woodlands and beautiful wildflower displays in the spring.

The park is open from sunrise to sunset year round. Parking is $7.00 per vehicle for day use. Special rates apply to buses or trucks carrying more than 9 people. Dogs are allowed but must be on a 6-foot leash at all times unless inside the dog park.

Park Bring your dog to exercise, play and socialize with other dogs at the Elizabeth Perrone Dog Park. This fully fenced, 1-acre dog park is located at Sonoma Valley Regional Park off of Hwy 12. It features a double-gated entry, drinking fountain for dogs and a gazebo for shade.

Directions:

  • Starting at Sonoma Plaza, drive W on West Napa St (Hwy 12
  • Follow Sonoma Hwy 12 as it curves north
  • N on Sonoma Hwy 12
  • W (left) into Sonoma Valley Regional Park drive Please visit sonomacountyparks.org for more information

On foot from parking lot:

  • Follow paved trail 200 yards to dirt road with trail sign
  • Follow this trail and keep right at all forks
  • Continue to hilltop and enjoy the view from the benches
  • Continue on trail along the ridge
  • Stay right at next intersection, keeping the barbed wire fence on your left
  • At the three-way fork, follow middle path
  • Follow this trail along the north side of the ridge
  • Pass another trail on the right
  • Stay left on the upper trail for a short ascent then a rocky downhill to the meadow and the paved trail
  • N (right) on paved trail back to the parking lot ON BIKE from parking lot, follow paved trail to the other side of the park
  • Retrace paved path back to the parking lot

DISTANCE 18,500 steps / 9.25 miles DIFFICULTY moderate CO2 EMISSIONS PREVENTED 10.17 pounds

Jack London State Historic Park

This park is a memorial to writer and adventurer Jack London, who resided here from 1905 until his death in 1916. The park’s stunningly beautiful acreage was once part of the legendary author’s Beauty Ranch. House of Happy Walls Museum Built by Charmian London as a memorial to her husband’s life and work. Wolf House ruins Jack and Charmian London’s rustic dream mansion was nearly complete when it tragically burned down in August 1913. Jack London’s cottage - the couple’s well-preserved main residence - is where Jack wrote his books, hosted countless guests and managed the ranch. It is also the place of his death. The Pig Palace was designed by London and built in 1915. It was laid out in a circle to save labor. The central feed house is surrounded by 17 pens.

Directions:

  • Starting at Sonoma Plaza, drive W on West Napa St (Hwy 12)
  • Follow Sonoma Hwy 12 as it curves north
  • N on Sonoma Hwy 12
  • W (left) on Arnold Dr
  • In downtown Glen Ellen, head W (right) on London Ranch Rd

On foot, from parking lot:

  • Follow trail signs to House of Happy Walls
  • Follow trail signs to Wolf House Ruins
  • Retrace steps to service road and head towards parking lots
  • From upper lot, follow Lake Trail past the barns and London’s Cottage and Pig Palace
  • At the gate, keep right to stay on Lake Trail
  • Arrive at London’s Lake and Bath House
  • From the Bath House, take the Upper Lake Trail to Mountain Trail
  • Follow Mountain Trail to the summit

On bike, from upper lot:

  • Follow Lake Trail past the barns and London’s Cottage and Pig Palace
  • At the gate, keep left on Lake Service Rd, arriving at London’s Lake and Bath House
  • From the lake, follow Vineyard Trail
  • At intersection, follow Orchard Trail through the Historic Orchard
  • Take New Fallen Bridge Trail back to the lake

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park contains the headwaters of Sonoma Creek, and runs through gorge and canyon, across meadow floors and under scenic rocky outcroppings. The park boasts 25 miles of trails enveloped by redwoods and ferns or by oak woodland and chaparral. Deer, gray fox, the occasional bobcat and coyote can be spotted in the park. In spring, wildflowers cast a dazzling color palette across green hills. Meadow Loop: One of the best family hikes around, this loop follows the valley floor along upper Sonoma Creek. Highlights include a stop at The Ferguson Observatory and a journey down the Planet Walk. Bald Mountain Loop: The view from the 2,729 feet summit of Bald Mountain takes in everything from the Golden Gate Bridge to Mt St Helena. This hike is best during cool months or early morning.

Directions, starting at Sonoma Plaza:

  • Drive W on West Napa St (Hwy 12)
  • Follow Sonoma Hwy 12 as it curves north
  • N on Sonoma Hwy 12 past Glen Ellen and Kenwood
  • E (right) on Adobe Canyon Rd
  • Continue to parking lot

Meadow Loop from parking lot:

  • Follow Lower Bald Mountain Trail
  • At fork, stay right on Meadow Trail
  • At second fork, stay right and continue to Ferguson Observatory
  • Continue on Meadow Trail, through the Planet Walk past the Gray Pine Trail junction
  • At the next junction, follow Hillside Trail
  • Continue past the first Nature Trail junction
  • Turn left at the second Nature Trail Junction
  • Follow the trail along Sonoma Creek back to the parking lot

Bald Mountain Loop from parking lot:

  • Follow Lower Bald Mountain Trail
  • At fork, stay right on Meadow Trail
  • At second fork, stay right and continue to Ferguson Observatory
  • Continue on Meadow Trail, through the Planet Walk to the first junction
  • Turn left on Gray Pine Trail
  • Turn left on Vista Trail
  • Turn right on Headwaters Trail
  • Turn right on Red Mountain Trail
  • Turn left on Gray Pine Trail and continue to summit

Take the Bald Mountain Trail back down to Lower Bald Mountain Trail and the parking lot

Annadel State Park

For wildflower lovers, Annadel Park offers a great variety of flowers from early spring until early summer, especially on a hike around Lake Ilsanjo. The best months to see the park’s native blooms are April and May, but some species flower as early as January or as late as September. Annadel’s highlights include thirty-five miles of trails, plus good black bass and bluegill fishing. Tucked away in the heart of the park, Lake Ilsanjo is a pleasant destination for a day hike. A favorite route to Lake Ilsanjo is via Warren Richardson Trail, a wide path whose name honors a prominent Sonoma County cattle rancher and avid horseman with a love for trails. Warren Richardson Trail traverses cool forest and open meadows on the way to the lake.

Directions:

  • Starting at Sonoma Plaza, drive W on West Napa St (Hwy 12)
  • Follow Sonoma Hwy 12 as it curves north
  • N on Sonoma Hwy 12 past Glen Ellen and Kenwood and into Santa Rosa
  • W (left) on Melita Rd • W (left) on Montgomery Dr
  • S (left) on Channel Dr
  • Follow Channel Dr as it curves E, then S towards the park entrance

On foot from parking lot:

  • Follow Warren Richardson Trail
  • At Two Quarry Trail junction, keep right to stay on Warren Richardson Trail
  • Pass the Louis Trail junction and continue to Lake Ilsanjo
  • Head south along the lake via Canyon Trail
  • Continue circling the lake by turning right on Rough Go Trail
  • Finish loop around lake by taking a right on Lake Trail
  • Take a left on Louis Trail
  • Take a right on North Burma Trail
  • Take a left on Warren Richardson Trail back to the parking lot

On bike:

  • Follow first four steps above
  • Continue on Canyon Trail past the lake
  • SE (left) on Marsh Trail
  • S (right) on Ridge Trail
  • E (left) on Pig Flat Trail
  • N (left) on Marsh Trail
  • E (right) on South Burma Trail
  • N (right) on Warren Richardson Trail back to the parking lot

Keeping Safe While Hiking & Biking

To fully enjoy these routes, please be safe. Here are a few tips before you begin your Real Wine Country experience in Sonoma Valley:

  • DRINK UP: Bring water in a reusable bottle.
  • DRESS RIGHT: Be prepared with layers and comfortable shoes.
  • SUNNY SONOMA: Wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen to exposed skin before going out.
  • LEAVE NO TRACE: Dispose of your waste in appropriate receptacles.
  • DEFENSIVE BIKING: Please exercise caution—drivers may not see you.
  • USE YOUR HEAD: Wear a bicycle helmet.
  • RIDE RIGHT: Ride bicycles on the right-hand side of trails and roads.
  • PASS APPROPRIATELY: Warn cyclists and pedestrians if you are going to pass them.
  • SEE THE LIGHT: We recommend you enjoy these routes during daylight.
  • AVOID SIDEWALKS: Don’t ride bicycles on them unless it’s a designated bike route.

 

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