This Scenic State Park In The Heart Of A California Hot Spot Is Truly A Hiker's Paradise

If you're visiting San Francisco, you're probably running around the city all day, visiting shops and taking pictures of The Golden Gate Bridge. You can certainly get your steps in for the day, making your fitness tracker sing little songs at you, but it's still a city. Sometimes, even on vacation, you need a break from buildings and other people. Just 60 miles north of San Francisco — a mere hourlong drive away — there is a scenic and lovely state park to visit that can take you away from the crowds and car exhaust. That place is Trione-Annadel State Park in Sonoma County, California.

Forget climbing steep streets. Here, you have 5,092 acres of natural beauty to wander, whether you hike, mountain bike, or ride a horse through it. It's got a whopping 40 miles of hiking trails, a 26-acre lake, flowers in the spring and into the summer, and oak trees and redwoods all over. Plus, you're not far from Sonoma County wineries to visit after your excursions. Let's explore Trione-Annadel State Park, what you can do there, and what you need to know before you pay this gorgeous place a visit. 

Hiking and other activities in Trione-Annadel State Park

If you've heard of Sonoma County, it's likely because of its many wineries. However, the landscape itself is enough to give you a natural buzz. Trione-Annadel State Park has everything you need for the perfect hike. There are trails for every experience level, from the largely flat Channel Trail to the Spring Creek Trail, which gives you a view of Santa Rosa and the Mayacamas Mountains. One trail you should definitely try is the 2-mile-long Cobblestone Trail, which goes from the parking lot on Channel Drive to the old Wymore Quarry. This quarry was once used to gather rock for cobblestone streets in the San Francisco area. However, when cars became prevalent in the 1920s, they were no longer comfortable to travel on, and the mine was abandoned. 

If you're an experienced hiker, try the Warren Richardson Trail, which was named after a local cattle rancher. Like the Cobblestone Trail, it begins in the Channel Drive parking lot and takes you up 900 feet through meadows, oak forests, and redwoods. You'll end at the manmade, 26-acre Lake Ilsanjo. Wander around the lake and maybe stop to fish for black bass and bluegill. If you're over 16, you must have a fishing license, which you can apply for here. By the lake, you may even catch a glimpse of the endangered California red-legged frog. There is a downloadable map of the hiking trails that you can grab here to plan your trip. 

What to know before you go visit

In this park, you might spy coyotes at dusk, raccoons, black-tailed deer, pygmy owls, a wood duck, woodpeckers, and maybe even a wild turkey. There are also bobcats and mountain lions here, so keep your eyes peeled. Do not approach them, don't bend down, and do not run (because that's what prey does). If you're visiting for the incredibly lovely wildflower season, your best bet is April and May, though some flowers bloom from January through September. Remember to leave the flowers and other plants where you found them. Keep in mind that temperatures can reach the 80s and 90s in the summer (and get down into the 50s in the winter), so prepare accordingly. 

Trione-Annadel State Park is a day-use park, meaning you cannot camp here. (Check out the nearby Spring Lake and Sugarloaf Ridge parks for that.) Cars are only allowed in the parking lot and on the entrance road, so you'll have a motor-free experience. (That also means no e-bikes or drones.) You may not know this, but horses have the right of way in a park, so move to the side if they pass you. Those with mobility issues will find accessible mobile restrooms and picnic tables near the main parking area on Channel Drive, and service animals are allowed. When you're done, there are plenty of wineries you can visit in the area, like St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Kunde Family Winery, and Chateau St. Jean.