The summer has begun its slow, inexorable slide into autumn – the days are shorter and the evenings are cooler, which means opportunities for outdoor recreation are all the more precious for Sonoma Valley’s residents.
But the hiking season is far from over, and a few promising events scheduled for the next few weeks include not just hiking, but meditation, yoga and other challenges.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is the scene of a forest therapy hike this Saturday, Aug. 25, incorporating techniques of Shinrin Yoku or “forest bathing.” This takes a walk in the woods to another level: A centering and calming restorative practice, Shinrin Yoku promotes balance and restored vitality through a quality of presence and heightened sensory awareness. The walk is led by certified ANFT (Association of Nature and Forest Therapy) practitioners; see natureandforesttherapy.org for more info about this practice.
Participants meet at the visitors center at 9:30 am; cost is $20 general, $15 for docents or members, and free if you have a Park Rx prescription from a participating Sonoma County medical provider. Cars are not free, however, but are subject to an $8 parking fee. Register at brownpapertickets.com/event/3327719.
That same night Sugarloaf will sponsor a moderate-to-strenuous Full Moon Hike, beginning at the White Barn, and heading up Vista trail to see the moon rise over the Mayacamas while the sun sets over Sonoma Valley. It’s about four miles with a 700-foot elevation gain. Bring water, snacks, and extra layers for the evening. Cost is $10 general, $5 park volunteers or students, under 18 is free (plus parking fee). Register at brownpapertickets.com/event/3579242.
Next month, Susan Topf returns to Sugarloaf on Sept. 8 with her Yoga Hike, balancing hiking with yoga postures, breath work and guided meditation. The routes will vary between two and three miles, depending on weather conditions and group interest, and 250-600 feet of elevation gain. Topf plans yoga stops in secluded glades, hilltop vistas and tranquil creekside settings. Cost is $20; registrants park free, so register at brownpapertickets.com/event/3237280.
Also at Sugarloaf next month, Bill & Dave Hikes heads for Brushy Peaks on Saturday, Sept. 15. Meet at 9:45 a.m. at the White Barn parking lot for a prompt 10 a.m. departure. This is an ambitious 9-mile, 5-hour hike for those who want to see the entire rim of the park and enjoy lunch and spectacular vistas on the ridgetop separating Napa and Sonoma counties. It’s free, but please consider carpooling and note there is an $8 vehicle admission fee. More information at billanddavehikes.com.
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Across the Valley at Jack London State Historic Park, they will be continuing their free monthly Saturday Morning Fitness Hikes on Sept. 1 with an easy-to-moderate loop to the lake and back, or a tougher 7-mile trek to Fern Lake. Both start at 9 a.m. at the Ranch parking lot; see jacklondonpark.com/saturday-hikes-2018.html for details.
The next Saturday, Sept. 8, experience California’s spectacular redwood state parks for the first time or rekindle your love for redwoods on a guided hike courtesy of the Save the Redwoods League. Wear hiking shoes, bring water and poles (if you like) for this moderate 5-mile hike to the Ancient Redwood, starting at 10 a.m. from the Ranch parking lot.