The Kenwood Press|
Hood Mountain Regional Park to add new trails, camping
Sarah C. Phelps
Hood Mountain Regional Park will be getting four miles of new trails, at least three new camping areas, and a refurbished cabin available for overnight stays, as long as the Board of Supervisors approves a new Draft Master Plan for the regional park this fall.
On May 19, at a community meeting in Kenwood, Sonoma County Regional Park staff publicly revealed their draft Master Plan for the Lawson Addition to Hood Mountain Regional Park, a recent acquisition that adds 247 acres to the park’s west side. The Lawson addition was purchased by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District from the Lawson family in 2005. It was transferred to Sonoma County Regional Parks in 2014.
The draft Master Plan details several new trails – both multi-use and hiking-only – that will ultimately connect Lower Johnson Ridge Trail on the Pythian Road side of the park to Azalea Creek Camp on the Los Alamos Road side of the park. The trail alignments were chosen, after many hours of volunteer reconnaissance, to take advantage of the amazing views and vista points on Hood Mountain’s west face. A formidable monolith, nicknamed “The Spire,” is one of the highlights of the new trail system.
Additionally, an abandoned cabin once belonging to the Lawson family affords a unique opportunity to develop an overnight site for backpackers, bikepackers and horsepackers. Regional Park staff envision the cabin, after its rebuild, as a two-room bunkhouse, possibly solar powered, with a communal kitchen and covered deck. One room or the whole cabin could be rented at a time. There are also plans for developing camping areas around the cabin for alternative overnight stays.
Park Planner Karen Davis-Brown said she expects the draft Master Plan to go before the Board of Supervisors for approval this fall. After that, Regional Parks will work on the three-mile section of trail for which they already have funding. The so-called Wild Lilac Trail will lead from Lower Johnson Ridge Trail up to the old Lawson cabin. Additional funding will be needed to rebuild the cabin and build the remaining trails connecting to Azalea Creek Camp sometime in the future. Davis-Brown said she anticipates the first trail section to be open to the public by next summer.
This latest expansion plan for Hood Mountain Regional Park comes on the heels of the connecting of the Lower Johnson Ridge Trail to the stoplight at Pythian Road and Sonoma Highway, which was completed in March.
Planner Steve Ehret said the Pythian Road entrance to Hood Mountain Regional Park has grown increasingly popular since it opened in 2006, its parking spots often maxed out. Ehret said Regional Parks is working on an overflow parking solution that should be available by July.
Additionally, on May 24, the Board of Supervisors approved the purchase and donation of another 162 acres, known as the “Spaulding property,” from the Sonoma Land Trust to Regional Parks. The Spaulding property is contiguous to the borders of Hood Mountain Regional Park and Sugarloaf State Park and will help to increase connectivity between the two. Davis-Brown said the public will be involved as Regional Parks develops the Master Plan for the Spaulding property in the future.