The Sonomist unearths unique and unseen finds throughout Sonoma County, and dares you to do the things less curious souls have never even heard of.
Grove of the Old Trees
It's impossible to overstate the enchantments of this old-growth forest, where sound dissolves and peace envelops you. It's a gorgeous destination for shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), picnics or meditation. Plus, you're likely to have it all to yourself. Near 17500 Fitzpatrick Road in Occidental. Take Coleman Valley to Fitzpatrick. Park on the right.
Parkland Farms Trail
Parkland Farms is a housing tract with a secret: a spectacular hidden trail that promises breathtaking views and a lovely wander through an oak forest. Fellow travelers are rare, and the solitude makes this one of The Sonomist’s favorite trails. Trailhead is in Parkland Farms at the eastern end of Arabian Way.
Shell Beach Labyrinth
Blink and you’ll miss it, but if you take the Kortum Trail at Shell Beach you could spend a meditative moment at a low-key labyrinth. Zen-seekers have left totems, charms and mementos, each one more delightful than the last. It’s one of Sonoma County’s happiest hidden treasures.
Ninth Street Rookery
To see gorgeous wildlife up close, visit Santa Rosa’s 9th St. Rookery in the spring. Herons and Egrets nest in the unlikely location of a median of a busy road, and it’s got all the drama of the cycle of life. Most common response when visitors first see it? “WOW.” 9th Street between Stony Point and Dutton. Photo: Colin Talcroft
Shhh. You didn’t hear this from me, but there’s a hidden lake in Glen Ellen. The trails here are mostly empty, but the real twist is that you can take a swim. Seriously, just ignore those No Trespassing signs and jump in. Locals do it all the time, and it’s totally fine. Arnold Dr. just north of the bridge at the Sonoma Development Center.
Islands in the Sky
It’s a destination as magical as it sounds. Once you ascend the hill, you will be treated to expansive ocean views unlike any other in Sonoma County, and a very pleasant, moderate stroll that’s untouched by summer heat (and crowds). You’ll find access to Islands in the Sky in Duncans Mills on Freezeout Road.