Besides expanding my outdoor activity type portfolio, I also want to check out new to me and/or revisit places to recreate that I haven’t been to in a while. The first new to me place I got to was Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, north of Santa Rosa. Although I’d ridden by the park entrances on Faught Road, I’d never been inside. Well, not past the bathroom at the main parking lot anyway.
For this hike I actually parked at the smaller, undeveloped south access. The opener was uphill, with the initial stretch being quite wide – maybe even enough for two cars across – and smooth gravel. Whoa! This is Some Park! However, the surface soon reverted to more like native soil, although it did seem somewhat improved, and the width also reduced to about a single vehicle width fire road type feeling.
There were beautiful oaks, manzanita in bloom, and, as I gained elevation, views over the Santa Rosa plain, which was still partially shrouded with bits of morning mist. Beautiful!
According to the park’s website, it is 850 acres with 8 miles of trails. “A looped trail system offers moderately difficult hiking on unpaved trails and allows hikers to create routes of varying lengths and intensity.” However, I could not devise a route to cover all of the trails without what started to seem like a slightly silly amount of retracing. So I settled on one that covered most of the park, with most of the spots where I reused trails going the opposite direction.
As the day progressed I saw more folks on the trails, and others making their own loops, as I saw them more than once. For the most part people were masked, and considerate about passing, but I’m glad I got an early start.
Besides the views, I particularly enjoyed the Canyon and Creekside trails, which are actually singletrack trails. It’s still a directed experience, in that you are following an established trail, but it feels a little closer to nature. The wider fire road trails felt very mediated – “Nature Lite” – but it’s great that it’s still open space, and that it is getting used. There seemed to be a pretty good variety of people out enjoying the day.
1/23/2021, 9.5 miles