This Bay Area Ridge Trail hike took me to Helen G Putnam Regional Park, a small gem of a park located outside Petaluma, on a cool winter morning. At 216 acres, the park is only 1/3 of a square mile, but has nice trails and pretty views of the surrounding areas.
On the morning of my hike I was slightly apprehensive about the temperature – I’m not used to needing gloves for a hike, even in the winter – but layered clothing and the warming sun made for a pleasant morning. I started at the northeast end of the park, on Oxford Ct, since I was planning to drive the short distance to McNear Park to hike an adjacent Ridge Trail segment through the town of Petaluma after my out-and-back hike through Putnam Park. The trail climbs a little over 200 feet to a hilltop and then descends to the main park entrance on Chileno Valley Road.
Although the Oxford Ct entrance is in a residential neighborhood, I soon left the houses behind to hike up and around a rise. The atmosphere was immediately more rural, with pretty hills surrounding. After going over the top of the main hill in the park the trail immediately starts descending toward the main entrance. Shortly I noticed a white hawk-like bird, I believe a northern harrier, clearly on the hunt for a meal.
The trail then passes by a fish pond.
Approaching the main entrance, the Sonoma County hills rise above green fields.
A nearby hill was being used for grazing cattle.
On my return trip I took a short detour on the Panorama Trail, about 0.3 mile round trip, to what I believe is the highest point in the park. From here I had a nice view to the north of Mt St Helena, about 30 miles away.
Mt Diablo was also visible to the southeast, about 45 miles away.
A short distance from the trailhead there was another short detour to a vista point overlooking the town of Petaluma and other hills in the distance.
After this pleasant open space setting, I drove to McNear Park for a nice walk through the town of Petaluma.