I was heading north to join Sean and Asaka for some CC-listed hikes in NorCal
on Friday and Saturday. I decided to head up on Thursday to do some easy peaks
to break up the drive, though I didn't leave until 11a to avoid rush hour
traffic through the South Bay and San Francisco. To make things easier, I
simply looked for peaks that Andrew Kirmse and David Sanger had already done,
knowing they were A) prolific in the North Bay area, and B) usually had a
GPX track and a short write-up to describe any issues. The longest of
these was about a mile, one-way, the shortest a near drive-up.
This was the only peak not actually in Sonoma County, but rather in neighboring
Marin, near the city of Navato. A paved residential road reaches nearly
to the summit where a water tank and cell tower are located. Parking is allowed
on one side of the road only. I parked near the last house and walked up the
use trail adjacent to the fence west of the summit. The use trail leads
to the summit where what looks like a wide public trail goes over the summit
north to south - not sure how to access that, but it is unlikely to be shorter
than the route I used. There's a large oak at the summit and a bunch of
other trees that leave views wanting, but I got a partial view looking
south and another looking west to Novato on the way back.
Peak 910ft / Grove BM
These two summits are located in the hills east of Santa Rosa and were burned
over in the 2017 Tubbs Fire. I hadn't realized this at first, thinking all the
construction was for new homes going up, but soon realized they are just now
getting to rebuilding the neighborhoods two years later. Peak 910ft, home to
a large water tank, looks to be the site for a new fire station,
undoubtedly to allow faster responses times. Grove BM is still a vacant
lot as Andrew had found it in 2016. But the nearby homeowner he talked to is
now gone, only the foundations left from the fire damage. The lots had
been cleaned up, but no home were being rebuilt near the summit yet. Just down
the road it's another story, with some homes completed, others
nearly so, many others
in various stages of construction. The numbers of construction workers and
equipment is really staggering - they must be drawing crews in from around the
state and probably other states, too. Some utility trucks I saw in one area
had Indiana plates. It was all very sobering seeing just how many homes had
been destroyed in that one fire...
This peak is located in a park just east of Healdsburg. There are trailheads
located on the northwest side
at a dog park and the east side on Hilltop Rd.
I used the dog park side of the mountain as Andrew had, though my route was
slightly shorter by starting to the right and avoiding the drop to the old
water tank down by the dry creek. The trail leads to a road l
which will eventually wind its way to the summit in about a mile, a
nice, pleasant hike through mixed rewood and oak forest. No real views
from the summit.
These last three summits are all found along Skaggs Springs Rd, on the south
side of Lake Sonoma. Peak 1,219ft lies on private property, about a quarter
mile from the pavement. There's very little parking available anywhere on this
road. I parked up against an old gate
leading to a little-used ranch
road. A short walk along the road and a shorter walk cross-country
through a forest leads to the summit, no views. Interestingly,
the pine trees in the forest are all the same age, about 20-30ft in
height, perhaps planted after a fire.
This summit is found adjacent to the roadway. A very short
but steep climb up the embankment gets one to the summit. No fence to hop here.
This summit is located on an active vineyard though it can't be seen from the
roadway. A climb up another steep embankment gets one out of view and
some short hiking through brush and forest to reach
the vineyard boundary. They have
a perimeter fence to keep deer out, probably not easy to scale without
damaging it. Luckily, I found a section of the fence dilapidated under some
trees and thick-ish brush that let me onto the property without having to
go over any fencing. The highpoint is found several hundred feet from the
boundary, unfortunately the rows don't go in the direction one would prefer to
get directly up to the summit. Walk around the permeter, pick
a likely row, hike to the top and call it good.
The dark purple grapes were ripe and rather sweet.