One one of the things that I love about living in Northern California is the abundant access to open spaces. Living in Sonoma County, especially, I am no more than a short drive away from a huge variety of parks, trails, and beaches.
One of the closest parks to my house is Shiloh Ranch Regional Park. Even though I moved into my current home about 8 months ago, it’s been over 3 years since the last time I explored this park. I was definitely due for a visit! On Sunday, after realizing that both my husband and I had no afternoon plans (what?!?), we decided to head out for a late afternoon hike.
The park is fairly small; about 850 acres and about 7.5 miles of dirt trails that range from narrow to very wide. The trails are great for hiking, biking, and running. Trails are horse-friendly, but unfortunately, dogs are not allowed.
We decided on a route that climbs along the park’s southeast ridge and down along a creek to create a large loop around the middle section of the park. We climbed about 800 feet within the first mile to the high point of the route. The ridge trail was pretty exposed, and considering that temps were in the high 60s/low 70s, we were definitely feeling the climb up the ridge. Once we reached the high point we stopped at an overlook to take a much needed water break and check out the valley below.From the overlook point, our trail began descending from the ridge along a nicely shaded trail and down to a small pond area. There was a nice picnic table area next to the pond and we lingered there for a few minutes soaking up the sunshine and watching the ducks, geese, and egrets swimming in the water.
Reluctantly, we decided it was time to head out because it was getting late and a friend of ours was coming over for dinner later that evening. We made out way back down the trail and turned out of the open oak woodland/grassland area onto a trail that follows a creek. The trail passed through a cool and shady riparian forest and made the remaining 1.5 downhill miles of the trail pass by far too quickly.
After about 4 miles and a little under 2 hours on the trail, we made it back to our car. A wonderful end to the weekend, I was glad to have taken the time to explore our neighborhood park. There are several other trails that we didn’t have time to check out, so I know that I’ll be back to explore the park some more.
Want to go?
Address: 5750 Faught Rd., Windsor
Hours: Daily from 7 a.m. to sunset
Permits and Fees: There was a $7 fee to park in the lot at the main park entrance. Fees are subject to change so check the website before heading out there. It is a self-pay system; bring exact change. Alternatively, there is free parking along the road and at a small lot down the road. Sonoma County Regional Park passes are accepted for parking.
Dogs: No dogs allowed beyond the picnic area. Dogs in the picnic area must be kept on a 6 foot leash at all times.