Hiking Bald Mountain
View of the South Valley
Pony Gate Trail
Brushy Peaks Trail
Sugarloaf Ridge Hiking
Sugarloaf Ridge is home to some of the finest hiking and views you’ll find in the North Bay. On a clear day, the views from the top of Bald Mountain (elevation 2,729 feet) are magnificent and include the Sierras to the East, San Francisco Bay and Mount Diablo to the South, Mount Tamalpais to the South-West, the Coastal Range and the Pacific to the West and Mount Saint Helena to the North. The park is home to the headwaters of Sonoma Creek including a 25-foot seasonal waterfall.
- A Guide to Recommended Hikes
- Family Hikes
- Extended Hikes up to 3 hours
- Extended Hikes 3+ Hours
- Sunset Hikes
|If you …||Choose|
|Need Accessibility||Meadow Trail|
|have about 1 hour||One of the Family Hikes|
|have up to 2 hours||Vista Trail Loop|
|have 3 or more hours||One of the Extended Hikes|
|want to see a Waterfall||Canyon-Pony Gate Loop|
|want a self guided hike||The Nature Trail or the Quest Hike|
- Creekside Nature Trail: 1 mile. Easy, shaded. Trail guide in Visitor Center or at trail head. Park in the main lot, cross the road to trail. Make a loop by going through the campground. 30 minutes.
- Creekside Nature Trail to Camp Butler: 1.5 miles. Easy, 150 foot elevation gain. Separate map available in Visitor Center. Extension of Creekside Nature Trail. Turn left on Hillside Trail to picnic area. 45 minutes
- Meadow Trail: .8 miles one way (1.6 miles roundtrip). Turn around at bridge picnic area. Most accessible* hike in park – good condition, flat gravel road. 90% sun exposure. 50 minutes.
- Meadow-Hillside Loop: 2 Miles. Moderate. Start at the Robert Ferguson Observatory and follow Meadow Trail and Planet Walk out, then come back on Hillside Trail. A couple of 100-foot hills with great views, a stream crossing and forested hillside. Hillside Trail is shaded, Meadow has 90% sun exposure. 1 hour.
- Canyon-Pony Gate Loop: 2 Miles. Moderate. About a 400 foot elevation change. Mostly shady forest with large redwoods in canyon and a seasonal 25-foot waterfall. At the end of the Canyon Trail look up the road to find Pony Gate Trail. 1 hour. Getting to the Waterfall (PDF)
- Quest Hike: Family friendly 1.4 to 2 miles. Easy to moderate. On the Quest, you follow rhyming clues to find the path and learn about the creatures and features of the park. Start and find guides at main day use parking lot. Starts on Lower Bald Mountain trail. 1 to 1.5 hours. View/print a Quest Hike Brochure (PDF).
Extended Hikes up to Hours
- Vista Trail Loop: 4.1 miles, Moderate – 2 hours.
Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Vista Trail and traverse the mountain. Turn right on Gray Pine trail (seasonal creek crossing); continue on Meadow Trail to return to the main parking lot. Total elevation gain of 600 feet with 70-90% sun exposure.
- Bald Mountain: 5.6 miles, Moderate-Strenuous. 3 hours.
Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain. Turn right on Bald Mountain. At the top you will have magnificent views in all directions. Return by reversing direction. Total elevation gain of 1,529 feet; 70-90% sun exposure.
- Bald Mountain Trail to Red Mountain/Headwaters (Short Version): 5.3 miles, Moderate – 2.5 hours.
Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Red Mountain Trail, well before the summit (this is the first Red Mountain Trail sign and is off the Bald Mountain Trail). Turn right on Headwaters Trail. Slight left on Vista Trail. Turn right on Gray Pine Trail (seasonal creek crossing). Turn right on Meadow Trail or stay left another .05 miles and then turn right on Hillside Trail (seasonal creek crossing).
- Brushy Peaks to the Picnic Table at Neptune: 5.2 miles round trip, Moderate – 2.5 hrs.
Take Creekside trail to Hillside to Brushy Peaks Trail. Stop at the picnic table shortly after Neptune on Planet Walk. Return the same way or via Meadow Trail. Shady with redwoods and other trees. Seasonal creek. Total elevation gain 1,200 ft.
- Planet Walk Loop: 4.5 miles, Easy (Inner planets) to Moderate (Uranus-Pluto) – 2.5 hours for the full loop.
See the Planets in relative distance and start at the Sun near the Robert Ferguson Observatory. Take Meadow Trail. Turn left on Brushy Peaks. There is a picnic table after Neptune, follow through to Pluto. Reverse to return or continue on Brushy Peaks, turning left on Gray Pine Trail to make a loop back to Meadow Trail. Total elevation gain 1,100 feet.
- Goodspeed Trail to Park Boundary: 2.1 miles one way (4.2 miles round trip), Moderate. – 2 hours.
Take Goodspeed trail from the lower parking lot to the park boundary with Hood Mountain Regional Park. Return the way you came (trail continues to Gunsight Rock and Hood Mountain-see below). Total elevation gain of 900 feet, 50% sun exposure.
Extended Hikes 3+ Hours
- Bald Mountain Loop: 6.6 miles, Moderate-Strenuous – 3.5 hours.
Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. At the top you will have magnificent views in all directions. After the summit, turn right onto Gray Pine Trail (be careful not to take High Ridge Trail) (seasonal creek crossing). Turn right on Meadow Trail or stay left another .05 miles and then turn right on Hillside Trail (seasonal creek crossing). Total elevation gain of 1,529 feet; 70-90% sun exposure.
- Bald Mountain Summit Loop with Red Mountain and Headwaters Trails (Long Version): 7.4 miles, Moderate-Strenuous – 4 hours.
Take Stern or Lower Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. After the summit, turn right onto Gray Pine Trail (be careful not to take High Ridge). Turn right on Red Mountain Trail (this is the second Red Mountain sign and is off the Gray Pine Trail). Turn left on Headwaters Trail. Turn left on Vista Trail. Turn right on Gray Pine (seasonal creek crossing). Turn right on Meadow Trail or stay left another .05 miles and then turn right on Hillside Trail (seasonal creek crossing). Total elevation gain of 1,529+ feet; 60-80% sun exposure.
- Bald Mountain to the Red Barn: Old Homestead. 8.8 miles, Strenuous – 5 hours.
Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain Trail. Turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. Turn left on High Ridge Trail for 1.4 mi. Turn around at Red Barn. This is the end of State Park property. Do not trespass beyond the boundary. Return using Bald Mountain Trail. Total elevation gain of 2,500 feet (1,529 feet to Bald Mountain and then a drop of 900 feet to the Red Barn) with 70-90% sun exposure.
- Bald Mountain to Brushy Peaks Trail (The Big Loop): 8.2 miles, Strenuous – 5 hours.
Take Stern Trail or Lower Bald Mountain Trail and turn right on Bald Mountain Trail. At the top you will have a magnificent view in all directions. Turn right onto Gray Pine Trail (not High Ridge Trail). Turn left on Brushy Peaks Trail. Turn left on Hillside Trail (seasonal creek crossing) or stay right another 0.5 miles and then turn left on Meadow Trail. Total elevation gain of 1529+ feet; 70-90% sun exposure.
- Goodspeed Trail to Gunsight Rock & Hood Mountain: 7.5 miles round trip, Strenuous – 4 hours.
Take Goodspeed trail from lower parking lot. After 2.1 miles, trail crosses into Hood Mountain Regional Park and becomes Nattkemper Trail. After 1.2 more miles, turn left for 0.2 miles to Gunsight Rock for Sonoma Valley views. Hood Mountain summit is 0.2 miles straight ahead. No views from Hood Mountain Summit. Total elevation gain 1,900 to 2,100 feet.
Camp Butler: Great veiws of the Valley and Hood Mt.
- Shortest: Take Hillside Trail from the White Barn Parking Lot – trailhead starts need ADA parkng spot. After crossing creek, take left up the hill till you get ot the picnic tables. .3 miles each way. 200 foot elevation gain.
- Medium: Take the Nature Trail from the main day use parking lot. Once you connect wth Hillside – go up hill unitll you get to the picnic table at Camp Butler. .75 miles each way. 200 foot elevation gain.
- Long: Take Meadow Trail from the Observatory. Stay Right as it becomes Hillside Trail. After about 1.7 miles, you will come to Camp Butler, just after the water tank. 2.0 mile loop. 230 foot elevation gain.
Accessibility on Sugarloaf Trails
The Nature Trail is a .5 mile (one way) ADA trail. It starts from the main day use parking lot and goes to the white barn parking lot. ADA parking is located at each end.
The Meadow Trail is a gravel fire road that leads to a stream and is used as a trail by hikers, bikers, and equestrians. It is not an ADA certified, but it is generally passable by most wheelchairs. accessible in the park. It may be accessible for about 3/4 miles. Occasionally gravel works loose and limits accessibility. The trailhead is approached from the white barn parking lot and the observatory . Restroom. An accessible portable toilet is located both near to the visitor center and near to the observatory. Parking: The day use parking area currently has no lined spaces, but the surface is firm and stable.
Dogs in Sugarloaf Park
Please note that dogs are not permitted on any trails or service roads within Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.