Although it’s paved and is a great bike trail, the Joe Rodota Regional Trail is a fantastic approximately 5-mile walk between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, in beautiful Sonoma County. (This trail also connects with the West County Trail, which goes all the way to Forestville, in the idyllic Russian River Valley.)
Since we just moved to this area recently, B. and I explored this trail right away; it runs very close to our home. Winter rains had dampened the soil and rendered the surrounding hills verdant, lush, vibrant with color. Wild turkeys, cows, and songbirds heightened our sense of being “out” in the country, even though we were just outside – sometimes within – town limits. Highway 12 runs parallel to this byway, but somehow the air still seems fresh, rarefied. Flora include gnarled, magnificent oaks highlighted by the slant of winter sun, willows congregating near the many water sources, and miles of meadow and field. Such a balm for the soul!
The trail lets out, conveniently enough, near the delicious Hopmonk Tavern. Sebastopol is a cute town – almost picture-perfect – about six miles from where we live. The houses vary in architecture from bungalow, to semi-Victorian, to more contemporary developments, but the town borders countryside for miles in each direction. (If you do visit these areas by bike, be sure to check out Community Bikes, on Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa; staffed by volunteers, they train folks on how to repair their own bikes, and are an invaluable resource.)