It feels like ages ago since the October fires tore through our area and hit so many of our favorite parks. We had been patiently waiting for them to start reopening. The hubs and I were so excited Sugarloaf Ridge State Park opened back up February 1st! We opted not to go the first week and let others on social media share the photos. I wasn’t sure if we were emotionally ready to see our beautiful park after the fires.
Driving up the long winding road you could see the fire damage in the canyon below where the beautiful waterfall would normally flow. I still tear up thinking about that area. Mother Nature will heal and the canyon will once again be beautiful again…just with a few scars. We all have them.
Reaching the parking lot just after the kiosk entrance you start to see the electric green grass and the blackened trees. As the grasses have come back they are this incredibly bright electric green showing us where the fire was, and that Mother Nature will come back healthier than ever.
From the parking lot we took Stern Trail to Lower Bald Mountain Trail. The burned shrubs are all showing signs of new growth and hope. The grove of oaks have some black on them which shows off the shiny green new leaves so nicely. Birds were singing to us as we wandered through enjoying the hugs from the trees. Some of the oaks didn’t make it but have gone back to the earth to help the others grow to be healthy once again.
Back out in the wide open where the views of the meadow below were once hidden from all the manzanitas hope is flourishing in the flowers popping up through the ashes. It is a beautiful thing to see. We truly can’t wait to see the progression of this area!
Once on the fire road we turn around to see the views of Sonoma Valley below. Fog is hovering high above the town as if it is protecting from any more harm. We keep climbing. We keep seeing the burned areas. We keep seeing hope from the resilient plants and trees.
Views of the city start showing through the fog and we turn the corner to see the valleys below and the top of Bald Mountain just above us. We start to see more people on the trails and everyone commenting on how beautiful the park looks. She does look beautiful.
The hubs and I had the top of Bald Mountain all to ourselves. The views are still there. The bench is gone. New signs are up noting all the areas we can see. We huddle together in the cold wind and take it all in. We can see the city poking up above the fog. We can see Napa Valley and the fields of mustard glowing in the vineyards. We can see all the way to Mount Diablo, down to Sonoma Valley, and over to Santa Rosa.
We often asked ourselves during the fire why this would happen. There is no answer. There is hope and strong resilient people in our community that can take strength from how resilient and how fast Mother Nature is healing herself. We too can heal. As we started down Gray Pine Trail, we stopped and chatted with a nice couple heading up to the top of Bald Mountain. They told us they had lost everything in the fires and are now rebuilding. It was hard not to reach out and hug them! We are so thankful we did not lose our house, they are thankful they still have their lives. Perspectives are a little different now after the fires. People started thinking about what was truly important to them. Life. Life and happiness is truly important. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is important to us. It was great to see them getting back to a place that makes them happy.
Following Gray Pine Trail down we could see the damage the fire crews (thank you firefighters!) did to get their equipment up to fight the blazes. It’s ok. The fallen trees will now be homes for little critters which will feed the hawks and then will eventually go back to the earth and feed new trees. It will be beautiful again.
Down toward the bottom we hiked alongside the creek as the birds flew around us and more and more hikers were out exploring. The fire came through parts of this area must have been hot. Some trees were just ash and some were left unscathed. So thankful to the rangers and volunteers that rebuilt the bridge so we could safely go on this hike. There’s still so much work to do here but love that they opened up one of the main loops for us to explore and once again enjoy!
Along the Meadow Trail we get to see how strong our mighty oaks really are. Half of the tree was burned. The other half is green and growing strong. Some are late to show signs of spring but they will when they are ready. Reaching the observatory which is, thankfully, still standing we saw several large trees that had been brought down and laid out for us to see.
We had been wondering where the deer were until we saw one stalking us. Normally we see so many more. Not sure how long she was stalking us but we were glad to see her!
It was a lot to process just going to the park. Then hiking through the park and seeing up close all the damage that was done by the fire. We needed to do it to finish our healing process. To see the new growth, the flowers popping up through the ashes and hear the birds singing gives hope to the future. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is a beautiful place, a special place, a hopeful place. She is still so beautiful.
Hope you get to attend some of their hikes and upcoming fundraising events! If you haven’t been there, it is time to go check her out and show your support!
Parking=$8 or annual pass, pit toilet/port-o-potty at each parking area, 75% sun, 6.6 miles, 1,529 ft elevation gain, moderately strenuous due to elevation gain, no dogs. Nearest food area is Kenwood.
Map My Walk Stats (no laughing! We enjoy the hikes, we don’t speed hike!)
Things We Love:
Beanies! Not only is it a fun word to say but it is also a good thing to always have in your backpack! The bosslady is sporting the CC Beanie with a pom pom on top in the photo in the post. Whatever your style, we would recommend carrying one because you never know how the weather will be changing or if the wind kicks up suddenly you are prepared! Do you have a favorite beanie? Wool, synthetic or just ear muffs preference? Leave a comment below!
Where else can you find us?
Don’t forget to check out the video of the hike on our Hike Then Wine YouTube channel!
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