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Hood Mountain Regional Park reopens after monumental work by crews

Hood Mountain Regional  Park reopens after monumental work by crews

Outdoor enthusiasts are once again able to hike, bike, or ride in certain parts of Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve. Sonoma County Regional Parks reopened the park with limited access on June 1. The Sonoma Valley gem has been closed since September 2020, when the Glass Fire burned approximately 80 percent of the 2,000-acre park.

In contrast to the fire damage that Hood Mountain Park suffered after the 2017 Nuns Fire, the Glass Fire resulted in significantly more damaged trees throughout the burn area, in part due to the fact that trees burned in 2017 were far more susceptible to another wildfire only three years later. Additionally, the park’s two access roads, Los Alamos Road on the west side and Pythian Road on the east side, sustained infrastructure damage during the blaze, affecting safe access.

Over the past eight months, crews have been working to clear the many hundreds of hazard trees and repair road and other infrastructure damage. The Pythian Road. entrance and upper parking lot on the east side of the park is open with public access to only a limited section of Lower Johnson Ridge Trail and the full length of the new Lawson Trail. No other trails within the park are open until further notice.

The lower Pythian Road parking lot, including the equestrian trailer parking area, remains closed. The Los Alamos Rd. entrance and west side of the regional park also remains closed.

From the upper Pythian Road parking lot, visitors have access to the Lower Johnson Ridge Trail which connects to the interior of the park, and the four-mile outand- back climb on the Lawson Trail. The Lawson Trail, which opened to the public just months before the Glass Fire ignited last fall, climbs and zigzags from riparian creek habitat, through oak, chaparral, and Sargent cypress woodlands, and winds west across prominent ridgelines with scenic vistas of Sonoma Valley and the-Napa hills, nearly 1,935-feet above the valley floor.

While the historic Lawson family cabin and barn were lost in the fire, the natural habitat is already showing signs of regeneration, with spring rains bringing forth wildflowers and new green sprouts in the middle of a native pygmy cypress forest ( Cupressus sargentii) and the madrone oak woodlands.

As crews continue work to clear and repair the rest of Hood Mountain’s nearly 19 miles of trails, please respect trail closure signs and stay on trails to avoid damage to soil, seeds, and new vegetation as nature continues its recovery.

Hood Mountain’s Pythian Road parking lot is located at 1450 Pythian Rd. in Santa Rosa. Parking is $7 for the public and free for regional park members.

The Sonoma County Parks Foundation hosts a fire recovery and resilience fund that will help Hood Mountain recover from this damage. To donate, visit html.

Photo by Paul GoguenA picnic area at the recently open Hood Mountain Regional Park.