The Bay Area Ridge Trail at Hood Mountain begins with a gentle climb from the St. Francis Winery and Vineyard in Santa Rosa toward Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve. Upon entering the preserve, the trail spikes skyward to a ridge about 300-feet short of the 2,730 foot summit. Fire damage from 2020 and storm damage from 2023 litter the mountain. The views of Sonoma Valley are lovely.
We are hiking the 405-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail. Sign up to follow our progress here.
TRAIL MAP (date hiked)
- Hood Mountain Regional Park (April 10-11, 2023)
We had hoped to wrap up our Ridge Trail adventure this winter. But a parade of atmospheric rivers offered few windows for safe and comfortable hiking. Wind has downed trees, blocking trails and roads. Rain has undercut hillsides and turned footpaths into quagmires. And, frankly, it’s been too chilly to want to venture far from home.
Now that the weather has cleared, Hood Mountain seemed like a good trail to jump start our trek. The steep but doable out-and-back hike comes with the bonus of an overnight in Wine Country.
After a day spent babysitting our granddaughter in Rohnert Park, we checked into our tiny room in Sonoma and headed for the mountain to knock off the easy, lower portion of the hike along Pythian Road before dark.
The next morning we began the decidedly more difficult portion of the hike beneath cloudy skies. The conditions transformed Merganser Pond into a natural reflecting pool. The sun emerged between big puffy clouds just as we arrived at a splendid Sonoma Valley overlook half way up the trail.
Three years has muted much of the trailside fire damage at lower levels of the park, where undergrowth burned but larger trees survived. We found more shade than anticipated. But the fire left little but skeletal remains of trees at the top of the mountain
The most impressive storm damage involved a large, double-trunked tree. It appeared to have knee-capped a neighbor as it fell, before splintering the remaining trunk like an errantly handled pile driver.
The grade up the mountain was briefly intense in spots and overflowing springs muddied some inclines. We briefly continued past the end of the Ridge Trail segment toward the summit but turned back at a damp and deeply eroded grade. The route was passable, but we’d had enough for the day. Onward.
Miles we hiked0
(with returns and connectors)
Our Progress Hiking the Bay Area Ridge Trail – 346 out of 405 miles85%