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.
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
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.
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:
Dogs: yes on 6′ or less leash
Hours: 7am – sunset
Sonoma County Regional Parks: 707.565.2041
Spring Lake Ranger Station 707.539.8092
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, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
- Jim Cheney, Broker
- Saint Francis Property
- (707) 494-1055
- Rincon Valley – Santa Rosa