The acquisition of Tolay Lake Ranch establishes a long-awaited regional park in the southern portion of Sonoma County, easily accessible to northern Marin, southern Napa, and Solano Counties.
The preserve can be enjoyed through a day-use permit program, but in order to obtain the permit, a one-hour orientation session is required. Dogs hiking with their people in the preserve must be leashed and licensed. (For information on how to obtain a day-use permit, click here).
The 1,769–acre property, formerly the Cardoza Ranch, consists of ridges, grasslands, wetlands and a historic homestead that many Bay Area residents know as the site of an annual pumpkin festival that draws as many as 30,000 parents and kids.
All of the park’s 8.6 miles of trails originate from the Park Center complex, which includes picnic areas and ranch infrastructure.
Hikers may combine several trails to form a loop, or elect to take the popular out and back route to the Three Bridges Vista Point. This popular 5-mile hike follows the Causeway Trail across seasonal Tolay Lake and climbs through oak woodland to join the East Ridge Trail. The trail ends at the vista point, where breathtaking views encompass the 1,769 acre park and much of the San Pablo Bay; including the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Bay Bridge, and Highway 37 overpass.
Other trail options include shorter trips along Tolay Creek and visits to several ponds. Most of the trails are through open grassland and offer limited shade, so hikers are advised to bring plenty of water and wear sun protection on their adventures.
Hours (October – March): Permit holders may access the park Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to sunset. Trails are closed to permit holders during the Tolay Fall Festival in October.
Hours (April – September): Permit holders may access the park Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to sunset.
Parking: $7 per vehicle for day use. $1 per person for vehicles carrying 10 or more people.
Dogs: Permitted on leash. License required.
Ranger Phone: (707) 789-9644