It’s easy, it’s pretty and hiking its 1.8-mile length will burn off just enough calories to allow you to splurge on a meal at The Barlow, a complex housing more than three dozen food and drink producers and artist studios. The Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail, which opened in 2012, stretches from Highway 12 to Occidental Road just outside Sebastopol, skirting the Laguna de Santa Rosa, Sonoma’s largest freshwater wetland.
Dogs must stay leashed on the trail, but if you’re a birdwatcher, keep your eyes peeled and binoculars at the ready: More than 200 avian species have been sighted here.
Bring a picnic if you like; you’ll find plenty of tables at which to chow down. Alternatively, treat yourself to a meal, a glass of wine or a brew at The Barlow, where dogs are welcome at outdoor tables. Tree-lined lanes connect the businesses, making it a fun place to explore with your dog by your side. A good place to get settled is on the deck at Woodfour Brewing Company, where you can choose from an extensive beer menu and pair your selection with an appetizer. Soups, salads and sandwiches are on the lunch menu, while dinner selections include both vegetarian and meaty cuisine.
Got enough energy to walk it off? The West County Regional Trail runs 5.5 paved miles between Sebastopol and Forestville along the right-of-way of the former Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railway. It connects to the Joe Rodota Trail, which goes another 8.5 miles along the abandoned railway. Pastoral views of farms, hills and vineyards are yours to enjoy on either path.
Photo Credit: @aeodea