To downtown Novato and back
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Distance: 2.00 Miles
Duration: 38 minutes
Coppertone and I were making a trip to Wild Birds Unlimited in Novato to get more birdseed for our hungry birds. So we took the opportunity to walk this short segment not too far away. We parked at the empty community hospital parking lot and walked the mile long path until it stopped at the edge of downtown Novato.
The trail is a sidewalk that mostly parallels the SMART train tracks the traverse much of Sonoma County. With less frequent operation on the weekend we did not encounter any trains coming by. The Novato train station on the SMART line lies near the north end of the trail on the outskirts of downtown Novato.
We saw a few walkers and cyclists on the trail, but just a handful. It's not picturesque. This is not a trail I'd go out of my way to walk, but if you're in the area and need to get to downtown Novato this might be useful.
Unexpected walk with friends
Jack London State Historic Park
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Distance: 3.80 Miles
Duration: 1 hour, 44 minutes
Coppertone and I took advantage of a relatively dry weekend day to go for a walk into the back of Jack London State Park. All of the natural trails were certainly quagmires of mud from the days of incessant rain. The paved road of this hike was the perfect option for us.
At the gate near the start of Orchard Road we came across two neighbors who were with friends starting their walk. We ended up going with them and chatting the entire way.
We hiked uphill to the old Camp Via site, looped around the camp and then doubled back down to the Developmental Center. It was a nice bit of exercise that totaled out to a bit less than 4 miles. And our shoes did not end up caked in mud!
Very muddy Sonoma Valley Trail
Sonoma Valley Regional Park
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Distance: 2.10 Miles
Duration: 57 minutes
During the drive out to our hike at Trione-Annadel two days ago, Coppertone and I saw the Sonoma Valley Trail in Sonoma Valley Regional Park. We realized we had not yet hiked that segment so we made a mental note to come back for it at a later date. That date was today.
The fog was quite thick and everything seemed a bit moist as we walked from the trailhead. The trail surface was more than that. It was very muddy! This was a bit surprising since it had been perhaps a couple of weeks since our last rain. Our boots were caked in mud in the end.
Sonoma Valley Trail parallels Highway 12, which runs along the middle of Sonoma Valley. This close proximity to the road has a major drawback with the near constant road noise. One can look uphill, away from the road and get a view of nature. But one has to drown out the noise to try and make a tranquil scene of it. A lone egret hunting uphill from the trail didn't seem to mind. We saw him at the start and end of our hike.
There is the potential of views across the valley to the Mayacamas Mountains but the fog and haze was thick enough to block any sweeping views on this day.
We turned around at a sign that marked the end of the trail and doubled back. We elected to walk a bit on the paved Valley of the Moon Trail to knock off some of the caked mud from our soles and to get a bit more mileage before calling it a day.
Mapping out unhiked trail segments
Trione-Annadel State Park
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Distance: 4.39 Miles
Duration: 2 hours, 43 minutes
Coppertone and I wanted to get some hiking in before the expected rains made trails too muddy. Trione-Annadel was our target due to some trail segments we noticed that needed to be mapped.
We started off walking west along Channel Trail. This parallels Channel Drive, which we used to drive back to our trailhead. Close proximity to the road normally means a less enjoyable experience. However, in this case, it's not so bad. There were but a few cars that drove by and those that did passed at a slow speed. There were far more walkers and cyclists than drivers on the pavement.
On the proper trails there were many more cyclists than hikers. So it's important to be alert for any fast moving surprises around a turn. We encountered no problems on that day.
We found the trails to be moist but not enough to make them muddy. Perfect.
We passed by a couple of rafters of turkeys. One all male the other all female. All added up to about 18 individuals. Neither group seemed too spooked by humans whether on foot or on a bike.
We turned left onto North Burma Trail since we had not yet mapped the northern segment of this trail. This section turned out to be my favorite of the day. Our turnaround point was the junction with Live Oak Trail. At this point we doubled back to Channel Trail and then turned west.
Channel Trail ends at the main park HQ. Instead of doubling back on the trail we just hiked we opted to walk along Channel Drive, like many other walkers. Along this path we searched for several geocaches, logging three of them.
Finally stopped to hike here
Sonoma Botanical Garden
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Distance: 1.70 Miles
Duration: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Coppertone and I were looking for a new place to walk, hopefully with not a lot of mud given the recent rains. Coppertone noted that we had overlooked the botanical garden over and over again despite several friends singing its praises. Today seemed like to good time to try them out.
Our plan was to mostly stick to the main thoroughfare gravel paths. Since the California Oaks section of the garden was said to be more muddy we opted to concentrate on the Asian Woodlands side of the park. Our first goal was to walk straight to the back to the highest point in the garden. Here some Tibetan prayer flags shadow a park bench which enjoys views over Sonoma Valley below and Sonoma Mountain.
We had recently walked at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Our impression was that the Sonoma Botanical Garden has more tagged plants in a given area. Our walks were frequently interrupted by questions such as, "what's that?", which was usually answered by a sign.
As we worked out way roughly counter clockwise back down the hill we encountered a Far Eastern Garden area that the official map marks as Ting. I've seen Ting referred to as a pavilion but I've also seen it mentioned as the Chinese character for listen. Either use applies well here. There are a number of small falls from two creeks that produce calming sounds. A traditional wooden pavilion provides a nice spot to sit and soak everything in.
South of the Ting garden lies two oblong ponds, each with a pleasant waterfall on their north ends. The "Lower Pond" is the largest of the two and features the tallest waterfall. At this point we were taking one of the many smaller trails that paralleled the ponds. At times it was a bit muddy here, but we didn't care.
We popped back out onto one of the gravel trails not too far from where we came in and decided to call it a day after 1.7 miles of walking. Our plan is to come back in the spring with a picnic lunch and systematically map every trail segment in the park.