Dog on a bike in Petaluma.
The town of Sonoma might be the gateway to Sonoma Wine Country, but wineries aren’t the only places in this sprawling county to visit with your best friend. The laid-back Russian River region is especially renowned for its paw-friendly hotels, restaurants and wineries, and urban areas such as Santa Rosa and Petaluma have their own sets of dog-friendly charms.
In our estimation, Petaluma is one of the most dog-friendly cities in California when it comes to places for on- and off-leash fun. Locals and visitors alike rave about Rocky Memorial Dog Park, named for a Petaluma police dog who died in the line of duty. At almost nine acres, it’s one of the largest, if not fanciest, dog parks in the state. And that’s not all: at a dozen city parks, licensed pups under voice control can frolic leash-free at designated “dog run” areas during posted hours, generally in the morning. At all of them, four very sensible rules apply: stay in the area with the dog, keep the dog under voice control, clean up after the dog, and maximum three dogs per person.
In addition, most other Petaluma parks allow leashed pets. Shollenberger Park, with a 2.2-mile trail, is especially lovely. We at DogTrekker thank city officials and local dog advocates for their paw-sitive approach to canine recreation!
When it comes to dog-friendly open space, Sonoma County is notoriously stingy. Hood Mountain Regional Park near Santa Rosa is an exception to the “no dogs” rule. This rugged, 1,750-acre beauty spot offers many opportunities to work up a pant with Rover. Among them is the 3.5-mile round-trip trek 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.