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Sonoma Coast State Park

Sonoma County: Recharging In The Great Californian Countryside

Travel writer, Baldwin Ho recharges his wellbeing in the Great Californian countryside.

Sonoma County might be synonymous with indulgence when you consider the region has bountiful wines coupled with an abundance of fresh produce. However, it is the wellness side of Sonoma that has been increasingly attracting visitors to the county. Baldwin Ho delves into this beautiful region

Sonoma Couty is a mere 48 kilometres north of San Francisco and offers one of the most diverse natural destinations in California. Not many people appreciate the region starts from the Pacific Ocean in the west and stretches to the Mayacamas Mountains.

For those who think hiking is monotonous, they clearly haven’t visited Sonoma County. You can embark on cultural, meditative, scenic, or botanical hiking.

Jack London State Historic Park

Jack London is one of the greatest American authors and journalists of the 19th century. His colourful life is akin to a Hollywood movie, akin to Forest Gump.

This park is the home and ranch of the famous author in his final years. There is the perfect mixture of short historic trails for cultural enthusiasts as well as 29 miles of back-country trails for those passionate dendrophiles. The most popular sites include The Wolf House and The Pig Palace.

The former was meant to be the family’s dream home before the interior was completely gutted by fire just before completion. All that remains today is the haunting exterior walls.

The latter highlights Jack’s keen fascination with agriculture. He built a commodious structure to house over 200 hogs and ensure maximum hygiene levels. Many of Jack’s farming practices were laughed at back in his day, but he’s shown that he was ahead of his time, as numerous sustainability initiatives have been adopted by current-day farmers.

Pre-Ukraine war, you would find countless Russians making a pilgrimage to the grave of Jack London on the grounds. His books were commonly translated to Russian and ‘Martin Eden’ is one of the most beloved books by Russian readers.

They run speciality tours throughout the week where you can hear about these quirky facts and you are driven around the estate on a golf buggy. For their back-country trails, the elevation varies from 600 to 2,300 feet where you can go horseback riding or mountain biking.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

Discovering yourself in nature might be a misnomer for some, but a short stroll through the Armstrong Redwoods will certainly bring about a moment of self-reflection. In this park, you’ll find the ancient coast redwoods, which are the tallest living organisms on the planet.

Remarkably, they live between 500-1,000 years and stand roughly 200-250 feet tall, and generally grow to a diameter of between 12-16 feet. There is a remarkable display near the entrance which shows human history relative to the diameter of one of the trees.

You will soon realise these trees have lived through a fascinating period of human history from the Industrial Revolution and before to the present day. They have a visitor centre, picnic facilities, and self-guided trails that cater for all levels of difficulty.

This is a great reserve to experience forest breathing. Insects are not attracted by the redwoods, which in turn means there are fewer larger animals to prey on such bugs. You are more than likely to experience virtual silence, bar the occasional rustling of the trees.

With the occasional golden sun rays bursting through the canopy, you will experience the true meaning of the phrase ‘silence is golden’. Thanks to the foresight of Colonel James Armstrong in the 1870s, these 805 acres of land were protected from the logging industry and can be enjoyed in perpetuity by locals and tourists alike.

Sonoma Coast State Park

There is no better place to admire the breathtaking Sonoma coastline than hiking in the Sonoma Coast State Park. They are the only state park campground situated near the Russian River.

Established in 1934, it includes 19 miles of trails, and you can hike all the way to the coastline. It is a great vantage point to watch whale migration. Swimming is not advisable due to the wild and unpredictable nature of the surf.

Adjacent to Sonoma Coast State Park is Jenner Headlands Preserve. Here you will find the most difficult hike in Sonoma County: The Sea to Sky Trail. It is a 15-mile hike, where there is a 3,600-foot elevation gain.

There are some shaded areas in sections, but it is mostly an exposed trail. The effort you put into the experience will be richly rewarded by the mesmerising views of the coastline, you’ll encounter when you reach the summit.

Sonoma Botanical Garden

If you are looking for a less demanding hike, then take a visit to the Sonoma Botanical Garden. It is a woodland experience where you can enjoy the best of Asian and California native plants. Did you know most rose species are native to Asia, with a small minority being native to North America?

Their rose garden is particularly popular on social media as is their temporary pop-up exhibition, Ribbit. There are 23 whimsical larger-than-life frogs placed throughout the grounds. Each one is different with its backstory and created by Andy Cobb. This has helped to encourage visitors to explore all parts of the ground and to make sure the garden is promoted even more on social media apps.

Their website is extremely helpful in listing which flowers you can expect to see in what season. Hence you might experience an explosion of colour with the flamboyant rhododendrons in early spring, whilst in Autumn you’ll see the warming colours of red, orange, yellow, and crimson from their maple trees.

Need To Know

Direct flights are available on Norse Airways from £354 from London to Los Angeles. During peak season, flights run every day of the week apart from Tuesdays. Norse Atlantic exclusively operates the latest Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, ensuring the smoothest travel experience for passengers.

They also have the most competitive and upscale transatlantic premium economy product on offer. There are convenient direct flights that connect you from Los Angeles to Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport.

Website: sonomacounty.com