Sweet as Sugarloaf

Hike to a Waterfall in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park Sonoma Valley

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park waterfall hike in Sonoma Valley

{JANUARY 2023 NOTE: Stay safe. Wait until storms have passed before hiking any trails, and before heading out be sure to check official websites for updates on trail status, closures, hazards, etc. Expect muddy and slippery trails, and exercise caution and good judgment.}

Right in the heart of wine country there’s plenty more than wine flowing right now, with an oft unheralded waterfall that has surged to an exuberant spectacle from all the recent rain. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park’s 4,000-acre open space straddles the Sonoma and Napa Valleys in the Mayacamas Mountains. And its trails are something special, including this seasonal waterfall currently in epic display, thundering and twisting through boulders.

waterfall hike in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Waterfall hike in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park Waterfall Hike in Sonoma Valley

It’s just a quarter-mile (one-way) to reach the falls, hiking through a lush forest beaming bright green right now. Redwoods wounded from previous fires still stand tall, resilient with regrowth blossoming from their bases. Moss and ferns glisten alongside the path, and marked signs take you to the main attraction, the tiered, massively flowing falls. Mind your footing here—we don’t recommend forays off-piste with the slick rocks and power of the flows. Sugar rush indeed!

Waterfall hike at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

BONUS WINE: Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is close to many excellent wineries, so you can’t go wrong for your post-hike tastings. A few we like: Set high in the Mayacamas, lovely Hanzell Vineyards offers tastings by appointment only. The winery is best known for its multiple-award-winning chardonnays and pinots, but they’ve also got an outstanding farm tour with incredible wine-country views, where you’ll see some progressive winemaking philosophies in action, and meet some seriously cute animals, including pigs, sheep, and chickens. Imagery Estate Winery has a scenic outdoor picnic area and equally excellent wines (“rosé all day” types will love it here, but be sure to broaden your palate and give the Sangiovese a try).

NOTE: Due to recent storms, be sure to check Sugarloaf's website to see conditions on trails and any closures. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is 11 miles north of Sonoma on Hwy. 12. To reach the waterfall, park at the turnout by the Pony Gate Trail, just before the main entrance to the park. Take the Canyon Trail down. Please honor the entrance fee. Or, park at the main trailhead by the visitor center and follow the Canyon Trail down from its other end. To reach Bald Mountain from the visitor center, take the Stern Trail and Bald Mountain Trail. No dogs.

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