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Wine Country LbNA #10393

Owner:DrewFamily Contact Supporter
Plant date:Jan 1, 2001
Found by: fleetwood7
Last found: Aug 14, 2014
Hike distance:Unknown
Last edited:Jan 1, 2001
Horsetail Falls at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Placed April 2001.
1 easy mile: our children loved it. Sorry, no dogs or mountain bikes.
Sugarloaf Ridge is a terrific park with varied landscape and habitat.

On California Rte. 12 east of Santa Rosa, turn north on Adobe Canyon Rd at Landmark Vineyards.

Park on the left just inside the park 2 miles from the highway and hike east uphill on the park road for 1/4 mile to the Canyon Trail on your right.

Follow through redwood and over bridge to a fork by some steps. Head a short way south to enjoy the waterfall, and then return to the fork and head east. Climb up 18 steps to pass between sentinel redwoods and check the south side for your reward.

Valley of the Moon
In February of 2003, we were fortunate enough to add to the Sugarloaf Ridge letterboxes. This new loop will add another 5½ miles to the Horsetail Falls letterbox. The hills are moderate but the distance isn't really appropriate for your younger kids. Again, sorry, but dogs and bikes are too hard on these sensitive trails. Best wishes and many thanks to the informative and very friendly park rangers here: we've kept all the boxes on-trail.

After stamping in at the sentinel redwoods, continue on up along the creek to the top of the Canyon Trail. Turning a short way up the road, you'll find the ranger station and a wonderful visitor's center. Bear right to the campground and walk all the way through to the eastern end.

Cross a bridge and walk past the amphitheater on the Creekside Nature Trail. Crossing another bridge, connect with the Hillside Trail, and bear right for a counter-clockwise loop around the lower part of the park. If this bridge is closed, as it was during our visit, you can find the Hillside Trail east of the park buildings on your left. In that case, you'll have to rock-step over the creek.

Hike up the Hillside Trail, bypassing the return loop of the Creekside Nature Trail on your right. You'll pass the prettiest little picnic spot with views west.

About one mile of rolling hills and gentle curves farther along, find the junction of the Meadow Trail and the Bushy Peaks Trail. Bear left on the Meadow Trail. Passing by the Gray Pine Trail, cross the creek on a substantial bridge and pass some picnic benches to find the next culvert that passes under the trail.

Look in the upstream side, in the southeast edge at trailside, under a pumice-y basalt stone for the Valley of the Moon letterbox.

Continue west down the Meadow Trail to the Ferguson Observatory. Cross the front porch to find the Meadow Trail continuing up a little rise. Bear north onto the Lower Bald Mountain Trail and climb. We saw deer, coyotes, Cooper's Hawk, and not another soul. It was wonderful.

About ½ mile through chaparral, California Black Oak, and Manzanitas, you'll find the paved Bald Mountain Trail.

Have a seat facing the road. The Wilikos Village letterbox is just behind you: take three steps down the rocks to find it.

Pony Gate Gulch
It's almost all downhill from here. Head west on the Bald Mountain Trail to the T, then south on the Stern Trail to a wonderful benched overlook.

Turn west onto the Pony Gate Trail and soon bear northwest on the main path, away from a connector trail (leads back to the visitor's center at the top of the Canyon Trail). Continue downhill for about 1/3 mile to the seasonally substantial Pony Gate Creek.

To find this watercourse, you'll come out from cool shady California Bay trees (crush the long slender leaves in your hand and inhale for a delight: I have carried the leaves from the trees on this trail like a fragrant talisman of home in my wallet for 30 years, replenishing the supply annually). There will be an open field with black oak on the north-northeast.

One hundred yards later you'll step down some eroded 4X4 steps to a switch-back that crosses a rivulet, turning from north to west-southwest.
Immediately down some better steps, you'll find another switchback (north to south) and the often-swiftly flowing creek.

Cross over and then look in the center ring of a many-trunked bay tree on the right for the Pony Gate Gulch letterbox. Just past here is a small unmarked trail that goes a few yards left to view a vernal pool.

Continuing, the Pony Gate presents one last little hill climb before spilling out onto the park road. A short way downhill, your car awaits. Thanks for visiting our hometown trails!