Hiking

Guide to Recommended Hikes

If you...
Choose
 
If you...
Choose
Have 1 hourOne of the Family HikesWant Plenty of SunThe Meadow Trail, Bald Mountain Road, or Stern Road
Have 2 hoursVista TrailWant ShadeThe Creekside Trail, Canyon-Pony Loop, or Neptune
Have 3+ HoursAn Extended HikesAre there for SunsetCamp Butler and Stern/Bald Mountain Intersection
Need AccessibilityMeadow TrailWant the Longest RouteBig Loop PLUS Red Barn (11.4 miles)
Want a WaterfallCanyon-Pony GateWant WildflowersMeadow-Hillside or Vista

Family Hikes

  • Creekside Nature Trail: 1 mile. Easy; shaded. Trail guide in Visitor Center. Park in main lot, cross road and walk next to the creek. Make a loop by going through campground. 30 minutes.
  • Creekside Nature Trail to Camp Butler: 1.5 miles. Easy; 150 foot elevation gain. Separate map in Visitor Center. Extension of Creekside Nature Trail. Turn left on Hillside Trail to picnic area. 45 min.
  • Meadow Trail: 1 mile one way (2 miles roundtrip). Turn around at bridge picnic area. Most accessible* hike in park – good condition gravel road and flat. 90% sun exposure. 50 minutes.
  • Meadow-Hillside Loop: 2 Miles. Moderate. Start at Observatory and follow Meadow Trail and Planet Walk out and come back on Hillside Trail. A couple of 100 foot hills with great views, stream crossing and forested hillside. Hillside shaded, Meadow 90% sun exposure. 1 hour.
  • Canyon-Pony Gate Loop: 2 Miles. Moderate. About a 400 foot elevation change. Mostly shady forest with large redwoods in canyon and a seasonal 25’ waterfall. At the end of the Canyon Trail look up the road to find Pony Gate Trail. 1 hour.

Extended Hikes

  • Vista Trail Loop: 4.1 miles. Moderate. Elevation gain of 600 feet; 70-90% sun exposure. 2 hours.
    Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Vista Trail and traverse the mountain. Turn right on Gray Pine trail (seasonal creek crossing); continue on Meadow Trail to return to main parking lot.
  • Bald Mountain: 5.6 miles. Moderate-Strenuous. Elevation gain of 1,529 feet; 70-90% sun exposure. 3 hours.
    Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain. Turn right on Bald Mountain. At the top you will have magnificent views in all directions. Return by reversing direction.
  • Bald Mountain Loop: 6.6 miles. Moderate-Strenuous. Elevation gain of 1,529 feet; 70-90% sun exposure. 3.5 hours.
    Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. At the top you will have magnificent views in all directions. After the summit, turn right onto Gray Pine Trail (be careful not to take High Ridge Tr.) (seasonal creek crossing). Turn right on Meadow Trail or stay left another .05 miles and then turn right on Hillside Trail (seasonal creek crossing).
  • Bald Mountain Summit Loop with Red Mountain and Headwaters Trails (Long Version):  7.4 miles. Moderate-Strenuous. Elevation gain of 1,529+ feet; 60-80% sun exposure. 4 hours.
    Take Stern or Lower Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. After the summit, turn right onto Gray Pine Trail (be careful not to take High Ridge). Turn right on Red Mountain Trail (this is the second Red Mountain sign and is off the Gray Pine Trail). Turn left on Headwaters Trail. Turn left on Vista Trail. Turn right on Gray Pine (seasonal creek crossing). Turn right on Meadow Trail or stay left another .05 miles and then turn right on Hillside Trail (seasonal creek crossing).
  • Bald Mountain Trail to Red Mountain/Headwaters (Short Version): 5.3 miles. Moderate. 2.5 hours.
    Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Red Mountain Trail, well before the summit (this is the first Red Mountain Trail sign and is off the Bald Mountain Trail). Turn right on Headwaters Trail. Slight left on Vista Trail. Turn right on Gray Pine Trail (seasonal creek crossing).Turn right on Meadow Trail or stay left another .05 miles and then turn right on Hillside Trail (seasonal creek crossing).
  • Bald Mountain to the Red Barn: Old Homestead. Strenuous. Elevation gain of 2,500 feet (1,529 to Bald Mountain and then a drop of 900 feet to the Red Barn.) 8.8 miles; 70-90% sun exposure; 5 hours.
    Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. Turn left on High Ridge Trail for 1.4 mi. Turn around at Red Barn. This is the end of State Park property. Do not trespass beyond boundary. Return using Bald Mountain Trail.
  • Bald Mountain to Brushy Peaks Trail (The Big Loop): Strenuous. Elevation gain of 1529+ feet; 8.2 miles; 70-90% sun exposure; 5 hours.
    Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain Trail and turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. At the top you will have magnificent view in call directions. Turn right onto Gray Pine Trail (not High Ridge Trail). Turn left on Brushy Peaks Trail. Turn left on Hillside Trail (seasonal creek crossing) or stay right another 0.5 miles and then turn left on Meadow Trail.
  • Brushy Peaks to Neptune Picnic Table: 5.2 miles round trip. Moderate. Elev. Gain 1,200 Ft. 2.5 hrs.
    Take Creekside trail to Hillside to Brushy Peaks trail. Stop at picnic table shortly after Neptune on Planet Walk. Return same way or via Meadow Trail. Shady with Redwoods and other trees. Seasonal creek.
  • Planet Walk Loop: See the Planets in relative distance. 4.5 miles. Easy (Inner planets) to Moderate (Uranus-Pluto); Elevation gain 1100 feet. 2.5 hours for full loop.
    Start at the Sun near the Robert Ferguson Observatory. Take Meadow Trail. Turn left on Brushy Peaks. There is a picnic table between Neptune and Pluto. Reverse to return at Pluto or continue on Brushy Peaks, turning left on Gray Pine Trail to make a loop back to Meadow Trail. Read More about the Planet Walk
  • Goodspeed Trail to Park Boundary: 2.1 miles one way (4.2 miles round trip). Moderate. Elevation gain of 900 feet, 50% sun exposure. 2 hours.
    Take Goodspeed trail from lower parking lot to the park boundary with with Hood Mountain Regional Park. Return the way you came (trail continues to Gunsight Rock and Hood Mountain-see below).
  • Goodspeed Trail to Gunsight Rock & Hood Mountain: 7-7.5 miles round trip. Strenuous; Elevation gain 1,900 to 2,100 feet. 4 hours.
    Take Goodspeed trail from lower parking lot. After 2.1 miles, trail crosses into Hood Mountain Regional Park and becomes Nattkemper Trail. After 1.2 more miles, turn left for 0.2 miles to Gunsight Rock for Sonoma Valley views. Hood Mountain summit is 0.2 miles straight ahead. No views from Hood Mountain Summit.

*Wheelchair accessibility: The Meadow Trail is an old fire road that leads to a stream and is used as a trail by hikers, bikers and equestrians. It may be accessible for about 3/4 mile. Occasionally gravel works loose and limits accessibility. The trailhead is approached from the day use parking lot. Restroom. An accessible portable toilet is near the visitor center. Parking. The day use parking area currently has no lined spaces, but the surface is firm and stable.