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Started in 2016 as a competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the City Nature Challenge (CNC) has grown into an international event, motivating people around the world to find and document wildlife in their own cities. Run by the Community Science teams at the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM), the CNC is an annual four-day global bioblitz at the end of April, where cities are in a collaboration-meets-friendly-competition to see what can be accomplished when we all work toward a common goal. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is participating in City Nature Challenge, with a variety of events from April 26-29, 2024.

As part of this year’s City Nature Challenge, Sugarloaf will offer numerous opportunities for all-ages and accessibility outdoors exploration. Find events such as a pop-up in the greenhouse next to the Community Science office to discuss everything butterfly-related followed by a hike in search of these winged shapeshifters, a journey to explore Sugarloaf’s hikes and lizards, an accessible soundscape listening session, and more.

City Nature Challenge Events 2024 at Sugarloaf

Did you know that Sonoma County is a biodiversity hotspot? Join us for City Nature Challenge Events at Sugarloaf to add to the growing scientific understanding of biodiversity! Participants at all events are encouraged to load iNaturalist on a device, sign in, and take at least one observation before coming to the park. Learn more about City Nature Challenge or view the Sugarloaf iNaturalist project, which has a countdown until the event begins. Once the event begins, you can view and help identify observations captured within the park during the weekend.

For each event, participants of any level of experience can help find, photograph, and/or identify life in the park. Smartphones with the iNaturalist app will be our main tool, but those lacking phones are also welcome to participate. If you haven’t used iNaturalist, or haven’t made an observation for a while, this is your chance – just make sure to load the iNaturalist app on your phone before you arrive for each event. For ease of access, parking, and details, please look at each event’s page.

Blooms & Birds

April 26, 2024, 9:30-11:30 am

CA Naturalist Carolyn Greene leads this wildflower hike along Lower Bald Mountain Trail through mixed evergreen forest and chaparral. Enjoy the warming spring sun, the variety of colors, shapes, scents, and arrangements peeking through the vegetation, as well as the added bonus of whatever birds cross our path. Participants of any level of experience can help find, photograph, record, and/or identify wildflower in the park.

Nocturnal Serenades (Accessible)

April 26, 7:30-9:00 pm

Soundscapes are auditory landscapes that encapsulate the diverse and harmonious interplay of ambient sounds, from the wildlife to the non-biological, creating a rich and immersive sonic environment. Venture out on this auditory experience with Jack Hines, Soundscape Ecologist at Ear to the Wild and Sonoma Ecology Center’s GIS Specialist. As part of this year’s City Nature Challenge, we will learn about recording sound for submission to platforms such as iNaturalist or Merlin for species identification, or options to improve sound quality of recordings using external microphones. No mobility is required, as we will simply remain around the White Barn parking lot and adjacent areas, including the creek on the Creekside Nature Trail.

Butterfly Walk

April 27 & 28, 12:30-1:30 pm

Community scientists John Hibbard and Alex Weishaar lead this easy-to-moderate 2-mile butterfly walk as part of 2024’s City Nature Challenge. We will encourage butterfly and bug photography; cameras, binoculars, hand lenses, and field guides are recommended. Stop by the greenhouse (across from the White Barn) between 11:00 am-12:00 pm prior to the walk for everything butterfly-related.

Wildflower Walk

April 28, 9:30-11:30 am

Join wildflower poet and Sugarloaf docent Phil Weil on this wildflower walk along Lower Bald Mountain and Meadow Trail.

Meet at the main parking lot, about 1/4 past the entrance kiosk. Wear comfortable shoes, sun protection, bring at least a quart of water, a fully-charged battery on your mobile device, butterfly identification guides (if you have them), and if desired, a snack. Parking fees apply; rains cancel.

Reptile Hike

April 28, 11:00 am-1:00 pm

March and April make for good reptilian-spotting months as ectotherms leave their burrows in search of food and mates. Join Galen and Rachel Freed in this easy 2-mile hike in search of snakes, lizards, and other wildlife. We’ll start off with a presentation inside the Robert Ferguson Observatory classroom and then hike Lower Bald and Creekside Trails, whose habitats is preferred by these species. We will meet at the White Barn parking lot.

Butterfly Greenhouse

April 26, 11:00 am – April 29, 12:00 pm

Community scientists John Hibbard and Alex Weishaar will set up a butterfly display in the greenhouse at the White Barn parking lot for you to you to enjoy during the 2024 City Nature Challenge. Free event; no RSVP required. Stay until noon on Saturday, April 27 or Sunday, April 28 for a guided butterfly walk.