Pups on a hike. Photo Credit: Grace Halliday
Sonoma County’s diverse network of regional parks is laced by more than 140 miles of trails leading to beaches, mountains, forests, lakes and meadows. Leashed dogs are welcome in most parks—but just so you know, regulations call for your pup to be licensed in the city or county where you reside, so be sure she’s tagged or you have the appropriate papers on your person.
For experienced hikers not averse to working up a pant, Hood Mountain Regional Park near Santa Rosa is a rugged, 1,750-acre beauty spot. Among many possible treks here is a 3.5-mile round-trip hike from the Los Alamos Road trailhead, reached via a narrow, winding road, to the headwaters of Santa Rosa Creek. The route will give you both a workout as it climbs and dips through rugged terrain to end up at a streamside spot perfect for a rest, a picnic and a swim for your pup.
For walks on the milder side, head to Bodega Bay, an hour and a half north of San Francisco. A great place to observe avians strutting their stuff is on the 1.2-mile Bird Walk Coastal Access Trail, which follows a levee around two ponds in a 14-acre revitalized saltwater marsh area. It connects to Doran Regional Park, a sandy, 120-acre spit that forms the northern border of Bodega Bay and features a 2-mile beach where leashed dogs are welcome to accompany you. Or, choose the Pinnacle Gulch Coastal Access Trail, which leads to spectacular coastal views and can be hiked as a 1.9-mile loop with the Shorttail Gulch Coastal Access Trail.
At the far north end of Sonoma County, near the Sea Ranch community and border with Mendocino County, Sonoma County Regional Parks manages six public-access trails starting at Highway 1 parking areas and crossing bluff-top meadows and forests to end up at the rugged coastline. Staircases from each of the trails lead down the cliffs to beaches with sandy coves, tide pools and rock formations.
Photo Credit: Grace Halliday