The mission of California State Parks is
to provide for the health, inspiration and
education of the people of California by
helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary
biological diversity, protecting its most
valued natural and cultural resources, and
creating opportunities for high-quality
A rough smack of
resin was in the air,
and a crystal mountain
purity . . . There are
days in a life when
thus to climb out of the
California State Parks supports equal access.
Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who
need assistance should contact the park at
(707) 833-5712. This publication is available in
alternate formats by contacting:
CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS
P. O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
For information call: (800) 777-0369
(916) 653-6995, outside the U.S.
711, TTY relay service
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
2605 Adobe Canyon Road
Kenwood, CA 95452-9004
(707) 938-1519 (District Headquarters)
Photos on cover and inside panel courtesy of Diane Askew
© 1992 California State Parks (Rev. 2009)
Printed on Recycled Paper
lowlands seems like
—Robert Louis Stevenson
ugarloaf Ridge State
points from the slopes
Park is named for the shape
of Mount Saint Helena.
of the ridge at its southern
They traveled to the
edge. In the 1800s, sugar
coast to gather salt,
was molded into coneseashells and seaweed,
shaped loaves; many hills
and traded with the
and mountains with a conical
Pomo people for items
shape were whimsically
not available locally.
called “sugarloaf.” The
Perhaps 1,500 years
4,020-acre park is located
ago, the Wappo settled
northeast of Kenwood in
in the Alexander Valley
Valley view from Bald Mountain
the Mayacamas Mountains
area, building their
between the lush Sonoma and Napa valleys.
homes from local materials. Their social structure
Elevations in the park range from 600 feet at the
included chiefs who acted much like consultants
entrance to 2,729 feet at the top of Bald Mountain,
with expertise in specific areas. For instance, if
overlooking the Napa Valley and Mount Saint
someone had a health problem, a chief would
Helena to the north. On clear days, you can see
consult someone with experience in medicinal
the Golden Gate Bridge and the Sierra Nevada
cures. Family ties were of vital importance to the
from Bald Mountain’s summit.
Wappo, and they held their elders and children in
Temperatures during spring and fall are mild.
The wettest months—from November to April—
The Wappo village, called Wilikos, was located
can bring 30 to 40 inches of rain. Wintertime lows
along the upper reaches of Sonoma Creek before
can drop into the 20s, but daytime highs average
the first Spanish settlers came. Acorn grinding
50s and 60s. Summer is hot and dry, often in the
rocks can be seen locally. Accomplished artisans
90s, cooling to the 40s in the evenings. Wear a hat,
and excellent resource managers, the Wappo were
and bring drinking water.
known for their fine basketry and their expertise in
Along the creek near the entrance to the
campground, the visitor center provides general
information and a guide to the park’s natural and
When the Spaniards first tried to take their lands
and resources, ca. 1823, the Wappo successfully
resisted. Before long, however, the people were
forcibly moved from their traditional lands to
reservations, where they lived with other native
groups. Despite their
strongest efforts to
retain their identity,
were largely lost.
Today some Wappo
Wappo bead basket
making an effort to
Photo courtesy of Phoebe A. Hearst
revive their spoken
Museum of Anthropology and the
Regents of the University of California
The park encompasses three distinct ecological
systems: chaparral-covered ridges, oak/fir woodland
along the open meadows, and redwood forest
in the Sonoma Creek canyon. Big-leaf maples,
madrone, California laurels, gray pines and alders
also grow here. California lilacs, coyote bush, toyon,
and winebush make up some of the chaparral
community. As you hike, watch out for poison oak
and, along the creek, stinging nettles.
Anthropologists believe that the Wappo people
are one of the oldest native California groups,
descended from the first people to settle here.
For thousands of years, they led fairly stable lives
on lands that produced everything they needed
to thrive. The Wappo gathered obsidian for arrow
Panoramic view of Sugarloaf Ridge
Photo courtesy of Diane Askew
Photo courtesy of Diane Askew
Canyon Trail waterfall
Sonoma Creek begins in the park and runs for
three miles through its southern portion. The creek
is not deep enough for swimming and often dries
up by late summer. Following the winter rains, a
picturesque 25-foot waterfall flows along Sonoma
Creek below the campground. In the spring, the
park comes alive with wildflowers such as California
poppies, cream cups, penstemon, buttercups,
shooting stars, trillium, and Indian warrior. Less
common are golden fairy lantern,
zigadene and fritillaria. Clarkia, scarlet larkspur, Mariposa lilies, monkey
flowers and Indian pinks bloom in
early summer. Invasive yellow
starthistles and tarweed abound in
By the 1870s, a number of settlers
were living in the hills near Sugarloaf
Ridge. Farming was limited and
marginal. One settler cut and slowly
burned trees to make charcoal that
was sold in San Francisco. Eventually
“gentlemen farmers” came to own
Old ranch barn Sugarloaf Ridge; hired managers ran
their ranches while they tended to
other businesses in town.
The State of California bought the property
in 1920 to dam the creek and provide water for
Sonoma State Hospital, but neighbors along the
creek objected. Until World War II, the area was
used for camping, picnicking and a Boy Scout camp.
In 1942 the land was leased for grazing,
and it became part of the California State Park
System in 1964.
The campground, located around the meadow near
Sonoma Creek at an elevation of 1,200 feet, has
49 campsites that can accommodate trailers and
campers up to 24 feet. Each site has a table and a
fire ring, with flush toilets and drinking water nearby.
The group campground accommodates up to 50
people. There is one large barbecue and fire ring,
with water faucets and chemical toilets.
Across the creek from the campground are picnic
sites with tables, barbecues and day-use parking.
Trout fishing in Sonoma Creek is best in late spring
and early summer (the creek is not stocked). Fishing
season varies each year—please consult current
California Fish and Game regulations. Anglers over
the age of 16 must have a valid California fishing
The park has 21 miles of trails that wind through the
chaparral, oak and fir forest, and the redwoods in
the canyon along Sonoma Creek.
THE ROBERT FERGUSOn OBSERVATORY
The dark night sky here makes this a perfect location
for an observatory. Named after a Sonoma county
amateur astronomer, the observatory is located
near the group campground and surrounded by a
protective ring of hills, decreasing the light pollution
from nearby cities. This astronomy observatory
houses several telescopes. The observatory is open
to the public on select weekends throughout the
year for both night and solar viewing. Per-person
fees are charged at the door for night viewing.
The visitor center and parking are generally
accessible. Assistance may be needed with
the portable restroom at the visitor center. For
information on disabled access to the observatory,
call (707) 833-6979 or visit www.rfo.org for details.
Schoolchildren enjoy the visitor center.
Classes teach visitors about the night sky, how
to make a telescope, and more. For information
or group reservations, call (707) 833-6979 or visit
This scale model of the solar system, designed
to fit within Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, allows
you to “hike” through the entire solar system
by shrinking it more than 2,360,000,000 times.
Our sun is large enough to hold a million
Earths, yet it is only a middle-sized star. At
the scale used for this model, the nearest
neighboring sun is more than 10,000 miles away.
Each step you take is equal to nearly one
million miles of empty space.
To begin your walk, start at the sign
representing the sun in the southeast corner
of the observatory parking lot. If you take one
step every five seconds, you will be walking at
the speed of light, but plan on 1/2 to 2 hours for
Enjoy your journey!
• Pets must be controlled at all times. They
must be on a leash no longer than six feet, and
kept inside a vehicle or tent at night. They are
permitted in the campground and picnic area,
but not on park trails or in the backcountry
areas. Please clean up after your pets.
• Fires are allowed only in the fire rings provided.
You may use your portable stove or barbecue,
but only in the established camping and picnic
areas. Wood gathering is not allowed—dead
wood is part of nature’s recycling system.
Purchase firewood at the entrance station.
• Smoking is limited to developed areas. The
park becomes tinder-dry in summer when fire
hazard is high; please do not smoke on trails.
• Quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Generators may
only be operated between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
• Plants and wildlife are protected. Do not pick
the flowers. Their
seeds make next
• For their welfare
and your safety,
please do not
feed or attempt to
pet wild animals.
Please secure food
items at night to
Observe coyotes and all
keep raccoons from
wildlife from a distance.
• Mountain bikes may only be ridden on
designated fire roads and service roads.
• Maximum speed is 15 mph.
• If visibility is less than 50 feet, slow to walking
• Alert trail users ahead of you of
• Yield to horses.
• See “Horses and Bicycles” rules.
Horses and Bicycles
• Horses and bicycles may only be ridden on
designated, named trails.
• Please note: some named trails are posted “no
use” by horses and/or bicycles. Check postings
• Stay on trails—Do not take “short cuts” or use
• Obey signs. Some trails are subject to seasonal
closure. Check with park rangers when planning
Nearby State Parks
• Annadel State Park
6201 Channel Drive, Santa Rosa
• Jack London State Historic Park
2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen
• Sonoma State Historic Park
363 3rd Street West, Sonoma
This brochure was printed in cooperation with
Valley of the Moon Natural History Association
2400 London Ranch Road
Glen Ellen, CA 95442