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Sugarloaf State Park plans September activities

Sugarloaf Perspectives: Saturdays, Sept. 3 and Sept. 10; 7 to 8 p.m.

Storytelling is humanity’s oldest art form, likely originating before the cave paintings of the Stone Age. This summer, the park introduces Sugarloaf Perspectives, a storytelling series that brings new voices and people to the park while teaching about our natural environment. Every other Saturday, instead of our regular family campfire, we will have a Perspective.

Take in some family-friendly laughter and wonders with naturalist and educator Jonny Ehlers on Sept. 3 and Sept. 10. Joining that discussion will be Sonoma Ecology Center’s Executive Director Richard Dale and Sugarloaf Park Manager John Roney, who will relate how a partnership between nonprofits, community, and government led to today’s operation of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.

Tickets are $20 for adults; $10 for students and youth (12–17 years old). Meet at the amphitheater. You are invited to show up early for a self-guided nature walk or picnic prior to the event. Parking fees apply.

Family Hike: Monday, Sept. 9; 10 to 11 a.m.

Join our docents on a fun family hike suitable for all ages. Learn about Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, its plants, animals, and history, during this 2-mile hike with 400 feet of elevation gain (pretty easy). Meet outside the visitor center. Registration is not required, and participation is free. Parking fees apply; heavy rains cancel.

Beginners Hiking for Fitness Series: Saturdays, Sept. 10 through 29; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Hiking for Fitness Series is back with the eightweek Beginner Hiking for Fitness program. Program leaders will guide you on a series of weekly hikes, with the challenge increasing each week. Before the first hike, the leader will discuss proper shoes, hydration, incorporating hiking poles, proper pacing, etc. The group’s final hike aims for the long route up Vista Trail, where hikers can enjoy the beautiful vistas. The tentative routes can be viewed by visiting the parks website.

The hiking series costs $80, or free of cost to hikers with a July 2022 or newer ParkRx from a Sonoma County medical provider. Wear appropriate footwear for slippery trails, and bring layers, as the group hikes in light rains. Bring water, and if desired, a snack. The group will be limited to 35 participants. Parking fees apply.

Entomology After Dark: Saturday, Sept. 10; 8 to 11p.m.

This outing will take hikers on a night jaunt full of nocturnal insects along Meadow Trail and back. Naturalist Damon Tighe will lead a short introduction to bugs, light trapping, and the iNaturalist app with a short dose of ultraviolet (UV) fluorescence.

Meet at the White Barn parking lot. Tickets are $10 for general audience; $5 for students, youth (12–17 year-olds), Sugarloaf members, and Sugarloaf volunteens; and free for children under 12. Bring water, layers, comfortable shoes, a flashlight and, if you have them, insect identification guides and cameras.

This event is part of California Biodiversity Day, along with other events hosted Sept. 4–12. California Biodiversity Day takes place on Sept. 7 annually, marking the anniversary of the launch of the California Biodiversity Initiative in 2018. This event celebrates our state’s exceptional biodiversity, while also encouraging actions to protect it.

Avian Series at Sugarloaf — Raptors: Sunday, Sept. 18; 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Join Sugarloaf docent Dana Glei on a 2-mile hike (250 feet of elevation change) focusing on a specific family of birds and learning how to identify them by sight, sound, flight pattern, and/or behavior.

The September hike will focus on raptors. We are almost certain to see the under-appreciated turkey vulture and may also see a red-tailed hawk. It is possible, though much less likely, that we will see a redshouldered hawk, northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper’s hawk, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, golden eagle, or white-tailed kite. We’ll start off along sunny Meadow Trail (85% sun exposure) and return along the shadier Hillside Trail.

Meet at the White Barn. Bring water, sun protection, binoculars, scope, or camera, if you have it, and, if you’d like, a snack and a bird identification guide. If you use iNaturalist or would like to learn how to use it, make sure it’s already installed on your phone before you arrive for the hike. Parking fees apply.

Forest Therapy Walk: Saturday, Sept. 24; 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 2 to 5 p.m.

A centering and calming restorative practice, forest therapy promotes balance and restored vitality through a quality of presence and heightened sensory awareness. Learn techniques to maximize the health benefits and stressreducing qualities of this walking praxis, led by certified Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) practitioners. Tickets are $20, or free with a July 2022 or newer ParkRx from a Sonoma County medical provider. Meet at the White Barn. Parking fees apply.

Sugarloaf Trees & Plant Communities: Saturday, Sept. 24; 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Join us as we explore Sugarloaf ’s trees and plant communities, with a special focus on oaks and redwoods. We will discuss why oaks are considered a keystone species at Sugarloaf, and the role redwoods play in plant diversity.

Beginning at the visitor center, we’ll follow Pony Gate Trail up the grassy slope into the woodland and through a mixed evergreen forest, walk along Canyon Trail’s shady riparian corridor lined with redwoods to the 25-foot dramatic plunge of Sonoma Creek, and then head back to the visitor center. Bring plenty of water, sun protection, appropriate footwear for slippery and rocky trails, and if desired, a snack.

Tickets are $15 for the general public and $7.50 for students, youth (12–17 yearolds), Sugarloaf members, or Sugarloaf volunteers. Children under 12 can attend for free. Parking fees apply. This hike is not accessible by stroller or wheelchair.