Sonoma Land Trust is working hard to protect this beautiful 654-acre slice of wild open land, McCormick Ranch, that would link Hood Mountain Regional Park and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. The property straddles both Napa and Sonoma Counties and would help extend the Bay Area Ridge Trail even further and allow for multi-day hiking right here in Sonoma County!! How does one get to experience this property before it is open to the public? Get on the email list for Sonoma Land Trust and watch their calendar for the next outing!
A bunch of us locals met up at a parking lot on a gorgeous sunny morning and carpooled up to McCormick Ranch. We went in from the Napa County side which meant we got to take the curvy St Helena Road and drive through a vineyard to get to the road that led us up to an old hunting shack. Not just any old hunting shack, one that has incredible views of St Helena and the Napa Valley below! We ALL wanted to stay there on the huge deck and just enjoy the views. We were promised even better views at the 2,500 ft high peak so we followed our guides.
Heading up from the hunting shack on a fire road we were all excited to explore more of McCormick Ranch. The tall grasses lining the road were just starting to dry out so we still had plenty of green surrounding us. Some people noticed various wildflowers growing along the trail and we enjoyed the little bit of shade from the oaks as we made our way up. Chatting and getting to know each other as we climbed is one of our favorite parts about going on guided hikes with Sonoma Land Trust. Everyone is like-minded and excited to be out hiking. Our kind of people!
The trail got a little steeper…then a little more steep…then the views opened up below us! It was crazy beautiful! Looking for landmarks to figure out exactly where we were in the world we found Bald Mountain to the left and the backside of Hood Mountain in front of us! We have hiked both places several times and are able to see McCormick Ranch from there but didn’t know how to get over here. Well, we can’t. At least not until it has been purchased and handed over to the parks.
Once we all reached the peak the camera phones and cameras came out and people stopped talking and started taking photos and enjoying the breeze and views before us! 360-degree views of Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley, and beyond! The views were quite literally breathtaking! Sonoma Mountain was clear as day. Mount Tamalpais was spotted in the distance. We could see where the fire of 2017 burned the backside of Hood Mountain and the new growth showing through. Turn around and we could see Mt St Helena and her scars from the 2017 fire. Beyond the Napa Valley, we could see the Vaca range and Snow Mountain. To the north was Pole Mountain and all the canyons and mountains in between. We have been on top of several of our peaks in Northern California and each time we are awestruck. We truly live in an incredibly beautiful part of the world.
Everyone enjoyed snacks at the top while listening to our Sonoma Land Trust guide talk about the future of the property and plans for other properties in the area. We love their intentions and are proud to volunteer with this organization. The goals to protect open space and preserve it in perpetuity for not just us humans to enjoy but also for the wildlife is definitely an organization we can get behind.
After our snack break, we headed toward where Hood Mountain Regional Park would meet up with the peak and then hung a right to head back to the McCormick Ranch hunting shack. The oaks, madrones, and maples growing alongside the hillside were very healthy and gave just enough shade for more wildflowers! The views never really stopped on this hike. They were so incredible it made it difficult to watch where your feet were landing and we slid a little on the gravel fire road at times. The group had spread out quite a bit and the person way ahead of us paused at the turn in the road to make sure we saw where to go. So thoughtful!
Reaching the hunting cabin again we all washed up a little and chatted more about the property and soaked in the views of the Napa Valley below. It was a short hike on a warm clear day and we all wished we could just stay and camp here on the deck! Not wanting the afternoon to end but also hearing rumbles from our tummies we hopped back in our cars and made our way off the property.
Sonoma Land Trust
Looking forward to the day when McCormick Ranch will connect both Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and Hood Mountain Regional Park! If you are interested in getting involved or donating, head on over to the Sonoma Land Trust website and sign up to become a volunteer or donate!
Have you checked out the other hikes we have done on Sonoma Land Trust properties? The recently posted Jenner Headlands Sea to Sky & Raptor Ridge hike highlights a short hike at Jenner Headlands that was just opened up to the public last year and the Pole Mountain Guided Hike at Jenner Headlands as well as the Estero Americano Raptor hike where we got to learn about raptor migration are great examples of what this organization does for our area!
Free guided hike through Sonoma Land Trust! So nice to have a flushing toilet at the hunting shack. 2.3 miles with 712 feet of elevation gain/loss.
You can see the red loop we did on the map below and how it will connect with Sugarloaf and Hood Mountain: