HOOD MOUNTAIN (2,730') 3X March 8, 2001

Enjoying a leisurely drive along Highway 12 through the Valley of the Moon, with its green hillsides, lush, yellow carpets of mustard, and the many vineyards, I, with Rex, took the signed Adobe Canyon Road north of Kenwood, CA, and came to the limited parking for the Goodspeed Trail in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. There are no parking fees, otherwise $2/day, when the entrance station is closed.

Starting beside a small grove of redwoods at 10:14 a.m., we crossed two foot bridges quickly over a mossy bouldered cascading stream. Hiking up through dense forests of madrones and oaks, we then dropped into a small drainage, crossing a dirt road, to come to another stream crossing. The rocks were slippery, so caution is advised for beginner hikers. Then, the views got steadily better as the trail climbed higher. Vistas appeared to the south, with steep climbs up this trail, built by the local, Redwood Chapter, Sierra Club.

Tiny flowers growing on steep green hillsides made for nature notes, and we did see a few poppies. Turkey vultures floated about as we plodded upward. I remembered my two previous climbs from about ten and eleven years ago, and thought this was the most pleasant one, with plenty of sun and clearer views.

A tangle of fallen trees marked the signed trail junction to the Gunsight, and we headed another few minutes to the peak summit, getting there at 12:40 p.m. A sign "Hood Mountain" once marked the large clearing on top, but it had been removed, with two posts marking the point. No great views are seen from here, blocked by trees and high brush. We hiked back to the signed junction and went to the rocks that are named the Gunsight, from the square notch that they form.

I climbed the highest rock here, to see the awesome, westward, hazy vistas of sprawling Santa Rosa, CA, and the southern views of the Valley of the Moon. The rural character here was preserved from ten years ago, as I remembered, but after seeing new development along Interstate 80, I wondered how long this would be for.

We had water and rest, then started down at 1:30 p.m. Our hike back was completed in about 1.5 hours.

The signs stated 3.5 miles to the peak, with about 1/4 mile to the Gunsight. The total round trip gain is some 2,100 feet, with about a 100' climb needed on the descent.

Other nearby parks will make for additional interest, but I had already visited the Wolf House of Jack London State Park, and then our urge for food surpassed the desire for a visit to General Vallejo's Home or other short walks about the town of Sonoma, CA.