Hike with your hound

Hey Rincon Valley, looking for some exercise that’s close to home? Take your dog for a Hike with the Hounds at Taylor Mountain Regional Park tonight (Thursday Aug 17) for an energetic sunset hike.


Bagel and Jerry are up for the task
  • When: Thurs Aug 17th 5:30 pm
  • Where: Taylor Mountain Regional Park , 3820 Petaluma Hill Road
  • Bring: your dog w/ 6′ leash (or shorter), water, doggie waste bag
  • Registration: required at Son Co. Reg. Parks 707.483.0940
  • Cost: 7$ parking unless you have a park pass

I love living in Rincon Valley!  I’ve lived here since 1995 and can’t imagine living in a better north bay community.  Call me today if you’re interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you’d like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney Rincon Valley Realtor

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor

  • Jim Cheney, Broker/Owner
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley – Santa Rosa
  • Cert. Tourism Ambassador 

Jack London State Park docent led hike


Rincon Valley, looking for something different to do this weekend? Get outside and come hike 7.5 miles in Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen.

This is a great opportunity to be led by park docents through this beautiful state park. The hike is moderately paced but expect to be on the trail for about 4+ hours.

Where: Jack London State Park 2400 London Ranch Rd Glen Ellen
When: Saturday, Aug 5th 8:30
Cost: $15 (fee includes parking)


  • Hiking shoes
  • Plenty of water
  • Trail snack
  • Sun screen and hatmaxresdefault

I love living in Rincon Valley!  I’ve lived here since 1995 and can’t imagine living in a better north bay community.  Call me today if you’re interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you’d like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney Rincon Valley Realtor

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor


  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley – Santa Rosa






Hood Mountain Regional Park

Rincon Valley’s Hood Mountain Regional Park is a wonderful 1,750-acre protected wildlife park on the east side of Santa Rosa. There are no attractions at this park other than hiking and wildlife. Don’t come to this park if you are looking for playgrounds or places to swim. This is strictly for getting away and enjoying nature.

The park is in the Mayacama Mountain Range and runs east/west on the north side of Hwy 12. There are 2 entrances, one at 3000 Los Alamos Road, and the other at 1450 Pythian Road. Each entrance access’ different trails so have an idea of what trail you want to hike then pick the appropriate entrance.

Hood Mountain Regional Park

The Mayacama mountains rise above the fertile valley floor

The Los Alamos entrance accesses the Hood Mountain Trial which is a fire road that leads to other trails that branch off it. There are moderate hills on the Hood Mountain Trail.

One of my favorite hikes on this side of the park is the hike to the Grandmother tree. Here is a link to this hike: Grandmother tree

Hood Mountain Regional Park

The Lower Johnson Ridge Trail is the place to start.

From the Pythian entrance (1450 Pythian Rd), expect a tough 1/4 mile hike up a steep paved road before you come to any trails. Once you hit the trailhead for Lower Johnson, the hike becomes less of a workout and more of a walk in the woods. One of my regular hikes is to hike to Merganser Pond, about 1 mile, then doing the Valley View Loop Trial, an additional 1 mile, and back to the parking lot for a total hike of 3+ miles. This is an intermediate hike with steep elevation.

Sonoma County Regional Parks recently established 2 environmental campgrounds at Merganser Pond that are “hike-in” only. There are 3 sites and only 4 people per site are allowed.

There is no running water to the campground, however, there is a creek nearby where water can be collected then filtered for cooking. There is a portapotty near the campground. Contact Sonoma County Regional Parks for more details about reserving these camp site.

Two of Sonoma County’s pinnacle hikes are at Hood Mountain Regional Park.

#1 is the hike to Gun Site Rock. This is an advanced hike for athletic people who can handle the 1700′ elevation ascent to the summit of Hood Mountain and then the descent back to the parking lot. Count on this being a 4-hour strenuous hike.

Hood Mountain Regional park

Panoramic picture for Sonoma Valley from the top of Gun site Rock

#2 is a one-way hike from Sugarloaf SP, to Hood Mountain Parking lot on Pythian with an optional drop in at Gun Site Rock. This is an advanced hike for people who are athletic and can handle the steep uneven terrain. This hike requires setting up a shuttle or utilizing the once monthly shuttle offered by the Friends of Sugarloaf. For more shuttle info click: Shuttle

Hood Mountain Regional Park rules:
Parking: $7
Dogs: yes on 6′ or less leash
Hours: 7am – sunset
Emergencies: 911
Sonoma County Regional Parks: 707.565.2041
Spring Lake Ranger Station 707.539.8092

Hood Mountain wildflowers

Wildflowers on the way up to the Grandmother Tree

I love living in Rincon Valley!  I’ve lived here since 1995 and can’t imagine living in a better north bay community.  Call me today if you’re interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you’d like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney Rincon Valley Realtor

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor


  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley – Santa Rosa



Walk, Wine, Woof

Kunde Winery and the Sonoma County Humane Society team up for a great outdoor wine experience that you can share with the one you love.


2016-04-30 11.38.49.jpgFor the second time, I have taken my dogs over to Kunde Winery for a guided wine tasting hike through the vineyards.  The hikes vary in length and route.   They seem be  4 miles +/- and last about 3 hours.

The hikes take place on Saturday mornings.  The number of hikers and dogs is limited so advance registration is required.  Hikers and their dogs meet at the Kunde tasting room, 9825 Sonoma Hwy Kenwood, at 9:00 am. for a pre-hike check in and to get a wine glass for each human over 21.  The hikes are $60 (2016 price).  A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Sonoma County Humane Society, and Canine Companions.

We departed for the vineyard with our guide, Jeff Kunde and his dog cooper at about 9:20.  We were able to take the dogs off leash as soon as we crested the first hill.    For the rest of the hike, the dogs were able to remain off leash, and were allowed to run free through the vineyard and play in the many irrigation ponds.


Could this be an adoption in the making?

Our first tasting of wine came within 15 minutes, a Sauvignon Blanc.  A perfect choice at 9:45 am.  Later tastings were Chardonnay, Old Vine Zinfandel, and blend or two.  Of course there were strategically placed dog watering stations so nobody had to go thirsty.

2016-04-30 10.22.43.jpg

At the completion of the hike we were served a buffet lunch with an endless supply of wines to taste.  Doggy treats and flavored water  (bacon, mojito, and of course garden hose) for the dogs.


If you want to try something different with your best friend, check out one of these hikes.  Here is a link to the 2016 schedule: Schedule .  You can also call the hospitality desk at 707.833.5501 ext 334.  As of this writing, more hikes are scheduled in July, and in October.

Historic Quarries hike in Annadel Friday

Friday May 13th join park historians for a hike to old basalt quarries in Annadel State Park

Melitta quarryStone quarries in Annadel provided stonemasons with the material to build most of the historic buildings that are still standing in Railroad square today. The stones were also shipped to SF after the 1906 earthquake to help rebuild the city. On Friday May 13th, you can accompany a state historical volunteer on a 5 mile hike in Annadel State Park to see the historic quarries that helped build Santa Rosa and the north bay.

The hike meets at 9 a.m. at the North Burma trailhead on Channel Drive in Rincon Valley. The cost is $7 per car to enter the park. People who do not mind walking a bit, can park for free outside the park on Channel Drive in a dirt pullout. Beware, car burglaries are common so hide your valuables or bring them with you. No reservation needed.

Wear comfortable hiking clothes and bring plenty of water. This is a moderate hike with a 900’ gain in elevation. No dogs are allowed in the park.

annadel sign.jpg

Sugarloaf Waterfall Hike

IMG_2684I’ve been climbing, hiking, and biking at Sugarloaf State Park for 25 years but it was not until a few weeks ago that I went on the popular waterfall hike. I generally go to Sugarloaf to climb to the top of the 2700 ft summit of Bald Mountain so the 1 mile hike to the waterfall never seemed challenging enough. This is a must do hike.

A few weeks ago I took a group of boy scouts to Sugarloaf for a campout, and a simple hike.  They told me that they wanted to go see the waterfall.  I thought “Oh come on you guys, your boy scouts, lets go to the top of Bald Mountain” but I kept my mouth shut and let them decide where we should go.  The trail is super simple but since we are boy scouts, we grabbed a few free maps at the visitor center and set off for our hike.

IMG_2690We started at the kiosk located at the park entrance and headed down Adobe Canyon Rd (the road that brought us into the park).  We walked about 150 yards, and saw the Canyon Trail trailhead on the left side of the road.  We hiked down the Canyon Trail a half mile till we came to a sign with an arrow stating “Waterfall”.  The waterfall was just around the corner.   To get a good view, we climbed over a few rocks but once in position, the view was awesome. The location of the falls isolates you from the rest of the park.  You can not see the road, campground, or other visitors other than those at the waterfall.  The water falls about 20-25′ high, and crashes down onto the boulders below, collecting in a shallow pool.  I wished I had brought a small chair so I could relax and just let the sound of the water take me to another place.  Unfortunately, I had 15 kids who had other plans.

We completed our hike by continuing down the Canyon Trail until it came to Adobe Canyon Road again. We crossed Adobe Canyon, walked up the road 30 yards, and caught the Pony Gate Trail on the opposite side of the street which took us back to the kiosk.  Round trip the hike was about 2+ miles.

Due to the nature of the water cycle in California, the waterfall hike would be best done in spring.  I do not know if water even flows in that river August or September.

If you want to shorten the hike, I’d recommend just hiking the Canyon Trail to the waterfall, then turning back.  This would make it slightly over 1 mile total.  The trail is steep and would be difficult for somebody who had balance or walking disabilities.  Some parts of the trail has stairs build into it.

No dogs or bikes on this trail.  Water and bathrooms are available at the park visitor center.  The trail is moderately strenuous but short.  Poison Oak is abundant and there is a fee to bring a car into the park. Beware of Rattlesnakes especially on the Pony Gate Trail.

Sugarloaf State Park is located in Kenwood, a mere 10 minute drive from Rincon Valley

Tomales Point

Tomales PointWe are so lucky to have some of the most beautiful landscape within a short drive from Santa Rosa.  The Point Reyes National Seashore is a short 50 minute drive from Rincon Valley, and has a nice variety of sights and endless trails.  The Tomales Point trail, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of coastal hikes in northern California.

Herds of Tule Elk are there to greet you on this 10 mile “out and back” hike.  The trail is mostly flat with unbeatable views of the Pacific Ocean, Tomales Bay,  and very close encounters with Tule Elk.

Gwen and I did this hike for the first time this month (first week of April).  We parked at the end of Pierce Point Road at the historic Pierce Point Ranch where we found the trailhead conspicuously posted. We walked past the historic ranch along the Tomalas Point trail, along the coast, and out to the point. Once at the point, we chose to climb down a steep dirt trail where we were able to see sea lions basking in the sun on the rocks below.  We enjoyed our lunches, and headed back to the car.

The trail is mostly a stable dirt fire road with some gentle hills and occasional sand.  There are no other trail junctions so a map is not necessarily needed.  There is only one way out, and one way back.  We saw plenty of other hikers, and noticed individuals, and some small groups picnicking along the bluffs overlooking the ocean. Wild flowers were abundant to include Wild Iris, poppies, Thistle, and other native California varieties.

Before wrapping up our hike, we walked through the historic Pierce Point Ranch which is a renovated 1850’s dairy facility  that is open to the public.  Visitors are welcome to take a short self guided walking tour of the ranch. IMG_2584 Getting there: From Santa Rosa, I recommend driving through Petaluma, west on D Street.  This turns into Tomales-Petaluma Road.  Turn left onto Hwy 1 and drive to Point Reyes Station.  Turn right on Sir Francis Drake Blvd and right on Pierce Point Rd.  Drive to the end and park in the parking lot of historic dairy.  See the attached map below.

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Bathrooms and water are available at the trailhead but nothing is available once you hit the trail.  Count on a minimum of 3 hours to do this hike.  Cellular signal was available on the hike (Verizon).  Check weather before you go, and bring a warm layer.  No dogs, bikes or camping.  A camera is highly recommended. Spring and fall are the best times to go. After the hike there is a great beach 200 yards from the trailhead.  If a meal sounds good, Gwen and I ate at Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes, an excellent choice for organic meats and locally grown produce. Getting there: