Weekday Hiking: Annadel State Park – Spring Creek/Canyon Trails

Lately, I’ve been going on a lot of walks and bike rides in my neighborhood. I’ve been happy with the consistent exercise, but staying in the same small area starts to get a bit boring after a while. A few days ago, I received an email from a local hiking group about an early-evening weekday hike. A short hike in a new-to-me park was the perfect way to break my workout boredom!

On Wednesday, after work, I headed out to Annadel State Park. This 5,500 acre park sits on the eastern edge of Santa Rosa, CA, in an area known as the Valley of the Moon.  Although the park is adjacent to one of my favorite parks in Sonoma County, Spring Lake Regional, I had never been to Annadel.

There are several entrances to the park, and for Wednesday’s hike, I met the hiking group at a trailhead on the park’s western edge, in a quiet residential area with plenty of free parking.

Courtesy of CA State Parks

Courtesy of CA State Parks

At about 5:30 p.m., we started up the Spring Creek Trail. The afternoon was warm but the oaks, redwoods, and bay trees that grow alongside the creek shaded the trail and made for a comfortable hike. The hike was a gentle up-hill climb on a wide but very rocky trail. I definitely had to keep glancing down at my feet to make sure I didn’t trip over any of the large rocks that littered the path! The scenery on the hike was typical Sonoma County landscape; riparian forest, oak woodland, and grassland ecosystems. Though we have had very little rain this year, the wildflowers were out in full force, and I spied lupines, blue-eyed grass, goldfields, and hound’s tongue.

After a very quick 2 miles we crested over a short hill and emerged onto the edge of Lake Ilsanjo, a 26 acre, man-made lake.

Lake

After a quick break to enjoy the sunshine and lake views, we followed the trail to the right and joined up with the Canyon Trail, a wide fire road that was less rocky and provided great views of the surrounding mountains. As we hiked, mostly downhill, on the Canyon Trail, we were treated to the sight of a family of deer crossing in front of us. We stopped and watched a doe and several juveniles cross into a nearby meadow and graze lazily.

deer

Shortly after our deer encounter, and just before the sun was beginning to set, we were back at the start of the trailhead. This short hike was the perfect end to my day and a great opportunity to explore a park that I had not been to. There are several other after-work hikes scheduled in the coming weeks, and I’m looking forward to joining up with the hiking group again to explore some new areas and add in a mid-week hike.

Want to go?

Getting there: To reach the Spring Creek Trailhead…from Hwy 101 in Santa Rosa, take Hwy 12 east and continue straight on Hoen Ave to Summerfield Drive. Turn right onto Summerfield Drive, and turn left on Parktrail Drive. You will see Beckmeyer Trail which runs along the left side of Parktrail Drive. The trailhead is near the point where Beckmeyer Trail leaves Parktrail Drive., near the intersection with Comfrey Place.

Parking: Free parking in the residential neighborhood adjacent to the trailhead. Please note that some areas of Annadel Park do charge for parking. Please consult the website or call the park directly at (707) 539-3911.

Fees: None.

Hours: Day-use only; open sunrise to sunset.

Bicycles: Bikes are allowed on most trails. This park is hugely popular with the mountain biking community. Most bikers are good about warning you that they are approaching, but it’s always good to hike with caution.

Dogs: Not allowed, except for service dogs.

Other: Horses are permitted on most trails. Fishing is allowed, though a valid fishing license is required.

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