Sugarloaf Ridge

Park Brochure

brochure Sugarloaf Ridge - Park Brochure
Our Mission Sugarloaf Ridge State Park The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. A rough smack of “ resin was in the air, and a crystal mountain purity . . . There are days in a life when thus to climb out of the California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (707) 833-5712. This publication is available in alternate formats by contacting: CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P. O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service Sugarloaf Ridge State Park 2605 Adobe Canyon Road Kenwood, CA 95452-9004 (707) 833-5712 (707) 938-1519 (District Headquarters) Photos on cover and inside panel courtesy of Diane Askew © 1992 California State Parks (Rev. 2009) Printed on Recycled Paper lowlands seems like scaling heaven.” —Robert Louis Stevenson S ugarloaf Ridge State points from the slopes Park is named for the shape of Mount Saint Helena. of the ridge at its southern They traveled to the edge. In the 1800s, sugar coast to gather salt, was molded into coneseashells and seaweed, shaped loaves; many hills and traded with the and mountains with a conical Pomo people for items shape were whimsically not available locally. called “sugarloaf.” The Perhaps 1,500 years 4,020-acre park is located ago, the Wappo settled northeast of Kenwood in in the Alexander Valley Valley view from Bald Mountain the Mayacamas Mountains area, building their between the lush Sonoma and Napa valleys. homes from local materials. Their social structure Elevations in the park range from 600 feet at the included chiefs who acted much like consultants entrance to 2,729 feet at the top of Bald Mountain, with expertise in specific areas. For instance, if overlooking the Napa Valley and Mount Saint someone had a health problem, a chief would Helena to the north. On clear days, you can see consult someone with experience in medicinal the Golden Gate Bridge and the Sierra Nevada cures. Family ties were of vital importance to the from Bald Mountain’s summit. Wappo, and they held their elders and children in Temperatures during spring and fall are mild. high regard. The wettest months­—from November to April— The Wappo village, called Wilikos, was located can bring 30 to 40 inches of rain. Wintertime lows along the upper reaches of Sonoma Creek before can drop into the 20s, but daytime highs average the first Spanish settlers came. Acorn grinding 50s and 60s. Summer is hot and dry, often in the rocks can be seen locally. Accomplished artisans 90s, cooling to the 40s in the evenings. Wear a hat, and excellent resource managers, the Wappo were and bring drinking water. known for their fine basketry and their expertise in Along the creek near the entrance to the farming techniques. campground, the visitor center provides general information and a guide to the park’s natural and cultural history. When the Spaniards first tried to take their lands and resources, ca. 1823, the Wappo successfully resisted. Before long, however, the people were forcibly moved from their traditional lands to reservations, where they lived with other native groups. Despite their strongest efforts to retain their identity, Wappo culture and language were largely lost. Today some Wappo descendants are Wappo bead basket making an effort to Photo courtesy of Phoebe A. Hearst revive their spoken Museum of Anthropology and the language. Regents of the University of California Natural History The park encompasses three distinct ecological systems: chaparral-covered ridges, oak/fir woodland along the open meadows, and redwood forest in the Sonoma Creek canyon. Big-leaf maples, madrone, California laurels, gray pines and alders also grow here. California lilacs, coyote bush, toyon, and winebush make up some of the chaparral community. As you hike, watch out for poison oak and, along the creek, stinging nettles. PARK HISTORY Native People Anthropologists believe that the Wappo people are one of the oldest native California groups, descended from the first people to settle here. For thousands of years, they led fairly stable lives on lands that produced everything they needed to thrive. The Wappo gathered obsidian for arrow Panoramic view of Sugarloaf Ridge Photo courtesy of Diane Askew Photo courtesy of Diane Askew Canyon Trail waterfall Sonoma Creek begins in the park and runs for three miles through its southern portion. The creek is not deep enough for swimming and often dries up by late summer. Following the winter rains, a picturesque 25-foot waterfall flows along Sonoma Creek below the campground. In the spring, the park comes alive with wildflowers such as California poppies, cream cups, penstemon, buttercups, shooting stars, trillium, and Indian warrior. Less common are golden fairy lantern, zigadene and fritillaria. Clarkia, scarlet larkspur, Mariposa lilies, monkey flowers and Indian pinks bloom in early summer. Invasive yellow starthistles and tarweed abound in late summer. Ranching By the 1870s, a number of settlers were living in the hills near Sugarloaf Ridge. Farming was limited and marginal. One settler cut and slowly burned trees to make charcoal that was sold in San Francisco. Eventually “gentlemen farmers” came to own Old ranch barn Sugarloaf Ridge; hired managers ran their ranches while they tended to other businesses in town. The State of California bought the property in 1920 to dam the creek and provide water for Sonoma State Hospital, but neighbors along the creek objected. Until World War II, the area was used for camping, picnicking and a Boy Scout camp. In 1942 the land was leased for grazing, and it became part of the California State Park System in 1964. RECREATION Camping The campground, located around the meadow near Sonoma Creek at an elevation of 1,200 feet, has 49 campsites that can accommodate trailers and campers up to 24 feet. Each site has a table and a fire ring, with flush toilets and drinking water nearby. Group camping The group campground accommodates up to 50 people. There is one large barbecue and fire ring, with water faucets and chemical toilets. Picnicking Across the creek from the campground are picnic sites with tables, barbecues and day-use parking. Fishing Trout fishing in Sonoma Creek is best in late spring and early summer (the creek is not stocked). Fishing season varies each year—please consult current California Fish and Game regulations. Anglers over the age of 16 must have a valid California fishing license. Hiking The park has 21 miles of trails that wind through the chaparral, oak and fir forest, and the redwoods in the canyon along Sonoma Creek. THE ROBERT FERGUSOn OBSERVATORY The dark night sky here makes this a perfect location for an observatory. Named after a Sonoma county amateur astronomer, the observatory is located near the group campground and surrounded by a protective ring of hills, decreasing the light pollution from nearby cities. This astronomy observatory houses several telescopes. The observatory is open to the public on select weekends throughout the year for both night and solar viewing. Per-person fees are charged at the door for night viewing. accessible features The visitor center and parking are generally accessible. Assistance may be needed with the portable restroom at the visitor center. For information on disabled access to the observatory, call (707) 833-6979 or visit for details. PLEASE REMEMBER Schoolchildren enjoy the visitor center. Classes teach visitors about the night sky, how to make a telescope, and more. For information or group reservations, call (707) 833-6979 or visit PLANET WALK This scale model of the solar system, designed to fit within Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, allows you to “hike” through the entire solar system by shrinking it more than 2,360,000,000 times. Our sun is large enough to hold a million Earths, yet it is only a middle-sized star. At the scale used for this model, the nearest neighboring sun is more than 10,000 miles away. Each step you take is equal to nearly one million miles of empty space. To begin your walk, start at the sign representing the sun in the southeast corner of the observatory parking lot. If you take one step every five seconds, you will be walking at the speed of light, but plan on 1/2 to 2 hours for your hike. Enjoy your journey! • Pets must be controlled at all times. They must be on a leash no longer than six feet, and kept inside a vehicle or tent at night. They are permitted in the campground and picnic area, but not on park trails or in the backcountry areas. Please clean up after your pets. • Fires are allowed only in the fire rings provided. You may use your portable stove or barbecue, but only in the established camping and picnic areas. Wood gathering is not allowed—dead wood is part of nature’s recycling system. Purchase firewood at the entrance station. • Smoking is limited to developed areas. The park becomes tinder-dry in summer when fire hazard is high; please do not smoke on trails. • Quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Generators may only be operated between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. • Plants and wildlife are protected. Do not pick the flowers. Their seeds make next year’s flowers. • For their welfare and your safety, please do not feed or attempt to pet wild animals. Please secure food items at night to Observe coyotes and all keep raccoons from wildlife from a distance. stealing them. Mountain bikes • Mountain bikes may only be ridden on designated fire roads and service roads. • Maximum speed is 15 mph. • If visibility is less than 50 feet, slow to walking speed. • Alert trail users ahead of you of your approach. • Yield to horses. • See “Horses and Bicycles” rules. Horses and Bicycles • Horses and bicycles may only be ridden on designated, named trails. • Please note: some named trails are posted “no use” by horses and/or bicycles. Check postings at trailheads. • Stay on trails—Do not take “short cuts” or use unnamed trails. • Obey signs. Some trails are subject to seasonal closure. Check with park rangers when planning your ride. Nearby State Parks • Annadel State Park 6201 Channel Drive, Santa Rosa (707) 539-3911 • Jack London State Historic Park 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen (707) 938-5216 • Sonoma State Historic Park 363 3rd Street West, Sonoma (707) 938-9560 This brochure was printed in cooperation with Valley of the Moon Natural History Association 2400 London Ranch Road Glen Ellen, CA 95442

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