This view is worth a thousand words! Seriously! This is how we felt once we reached the top of our guided through-hike to the summit of Pole Mountain. We had been on the waitlist for the guided Pole Mountain hike for a while. We finally had a chance this past weekend to adventure up to the tallest peak along the Sonoma Coast! It was worth the wait, the blisters, and the exhaustion to get to experience this special place on a beautiful clear fall day.
We met up with Sonoma Land Trust volunteers in Monte Rio Sunday morning along with 19 other eager hikers. They had rounded up a handful of volunteers to shuttle us all to Little Black Mountain to start our trek to Pole Mountain. Huge shout out to the volunteer drivers! We went up Cazadero Road (which we have never been on but want to explore more of) and took a dirt road up to the starting spot just below Little Black Mountain. The group of hikers we were with were varied in age and backgrounds. Everyone was ready for the adventure and no one held back. In fact, some were super fast!
After our briefing of the trails to Pole Mountain, we headed up the trail and were soon exposed to gorgeous views of the canyons beyond. Little Black Mountain sprouted up in our view and we were told the story of the fire that happened in the 1970s. After this fire, the land owner’s, escaping with just their lives, decided to donate the land to Sonoma Land Trust. I love hearing stories of families that love the land so much they want it to be kept wild forever with the allowed educational and public visitor opportunities. Coming from Southern California where people are more interested in making money off the land to Northern California where land conservation ranks higher than the monetary gain is so heartwarming.
POLE MOUNTAIN AND JENNER HEADLANDS OPEN SEPTEMBER 7TH!!! (so excited!!!)
Check out Sonoma Land Trust for more info! See you there!
The climb was steady as we wrapped around the trail and gained more views of Little Black Mountain. We eventually came to the old homestead that had burned down in the fire. The fireplace with melted glass, the old concrete foundation, and some of the metal furniture pieces survived and are now rusty. I couldn’t imagine the fear and sadness of watching your home burn but am so thankful the family made it out and decided to leave this to the public to enjoy.
The group headed up the steep part of the trail toward Pole Mountain and stopped regularly to enjoy the views of the canyons and ridges beyond. The rests were welcome! As we reached the grassy meadow and final climb up to the Pole Mountain fire lookout, everyone seemed ready for the reward we were about to experience. The 360-degree views of the Mayacamas, the northern ridges, the Pacific Ocean and Bodega Head to Point Reyes, and southeast toward Mt Diablo were so incredible!!! Lucky us this was our lunch spot. The hubs and I don’t usually take breaks on hikes so it was difficult for us to sit and relax with all of these views in front of us! We walked around and tried to take it all in. It was an amazingly clear day along the coast.
The oak trees sprinkled around Pole Mountain were beautiful. The views of Mt St Helena and Cobb Mountain felt like they were within reach. Mt Diablo was clear as day. The ocean was calm. If whales were cruising by we would have been able to spot them. We could see for days in all directions! The hubs and I have experienced some amazing places, this is definitely in the top 5!
After our lunch break, we headed down the trail into the canyon. The trail became a fire road and was a nice grade. We had views of the ocean almost the entire way down. No shade, just grassy meadows sprinkled with oak trees until we reached the stream in the canyon where the redwoods ruled the trail. This is where we met up with some of our drivers. They parked at the old historic barn, the end of our hike, and hiked up to meet with us. This is also where we had to start climbing back up the hill….for a mile. Brutal.
Thankful for the shade, we trekked on enjoying the redwoods. With many breaks and lots of water we made it to the top of the last summit and met up with the super fast hikers and waited for the ones that took their time. This might be my favorite part of the hike! Our views west were of the ocean with this outcropping of trees all by themselves. Our views south were of the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean. The Jenner Headlands are one of the most beautiful places we have experienced. Last year we joined Sonoma Land Trust and the Wildlands Conservancy on a guided wildflower hike at Jenner Headlands and loved it!
Once we were back together as a group, we followed the fire road down to the old historic barn to meet up with the rest of the volunteer drivers.
This will definitely be a hike we will remember forever. Once this opens up to the public, it will be a 15 mile round trip hike from the soon to be opened Jenner Headlands parking to the top of Pole Mountain. The hubs and I feel very fortunate to have been able to experience this at just 10 miles. The elevation gain/loss was approximately 1,800 ft. There were portable potties provided at the start, end, and middle. Dogs will be allowed when this is open to the public.
Check out the Sonoma Land Trust events page to sign up for future guided hikes! And don’t forget to donate and/or become a member to help keep these beautiful open spaces.
Things We Love:
For this hike, I must say that having our DSLR cameras with us was a good idea! The views were incredible and we wouldn’t have been able to capture all of the beauty without them. The hubs uses a Nikon D5600 which is lighter weight and perfect for when he chooses to hold it in his hand during the hike with just the wrist strap on. It is smaller and lighter than the bosslady’s Nikon D7100. Both perform really well and we like that we both have Nikon’s so the lenses are interchangeable. We aren’t professional photographers and both are pretty easy to use. There are a lot of features we don’t need on these but like that we have the options! Do you capture memories while out on the trails? What’s your camera of choice?