The author’s kids, Rigby and Ramona, enjoy a sunset of the Laguna. Photo by Ursa Born

We would be remiss to write about all of the amazing things Sonoma County has to offer without mentioning our bountiful Regional Park system. Sonoma County Regional Parks includes more than 50 parks and beaches from Petaluma to Gualala and Sonoma to Bodega Bay. Many offer wild landscapes and miles of trails. Others feature sports fields, playgrounds, and campgrounds. Going forward, we’ll regularly highlight one of these local treasures with hopes that you can get out and partake in some of our recreational wonders. First up, Sonoma County’s largest freshwater wetland and my personal favorite, the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail.

Although dry during the summer and fall seasons, this time of year, when we are lucky enough to get winter rains, the Laguna de Santa Rosa transforms into a flooded, marshy wonderland. Spanning between Highway 12 and Occidental Road near Sebastopol, this 1.8-mile compacted gravel multi-use trail mostly stays dry enough to traverse by wheelchair, foot, or horseback. Visitors can enjoy the big-sky sensation of open grasslands studded with woody oaks and eucalyptus, and marvel at the myriad of birds that make it their home or stop through on their annual migrations. In particular, the gentle loop around Kelly Pond is home to waterfowl, cacophonous red-winged blackbirds, and impressive raptors. Leashed dogs are welcome, and there is equestrian-friendly parking at the Highway 12 trailhead. Pro tip: there is no better place to witness the glorious sunsets Sonoma County has to offer.

The Laguna de Santa Rosa trail has two accessible, free parking lots: 

6303 Highway 12, Santa Rosa

5420 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa


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