The great explorers were lost from time to time, right? I usually have a handy printed map with us on our hikes since we don’t always have reception where we go but this one looked so simple that I didn’t bother. Nor did we really bother with looking at the map posted at the trail parking lot since we saw a small sign that said Trail and pointed to our right. Don’t do it!! It’s the wrong way.
Ok, so it is a trail but it’s not the one that takes you around Lake Benoist for the leisurely 2.18 mile hike and redwood grove. It takes you over to Lake Wilson instead. Good thing we don’t mind getting lost ALL the time and no one else knew we were lost. The spider webs across the trail were a good sign we were on a path that not many take.
The ranger we met a couple weeks ago suggested Riverfront Regional Park to us as one of the prettier ones during fall so of course we were interested and it’s one we hadn’t been to yet. The park is set out in the middle of vineyards which makes the drive there even better and it borders the Russian River. You literally drive through a small vineyard to get to the park’s parking lot. How great is that! It has a great picnic area in the redwoods, flushing toilets, nice parking, wide trails (on the correct trails) and good signage (if you pay attention). There’s 3 little lakes that were former gravel pits. It’s very lush all around the lakes which is wonderful on a hot day.
So from the parking lot you should go to the left where everyone else is at. Since we went right we were on a single track trail through the brush. I did manage to snap a few photos for my post on Angles for the weekly photo challenge so not all was lost by going the wrong way…or should I say the ‘right’ way. The path we took went around Lake Wilson and bordered Lake McLaughlin which is private property. The trail was not maintained….um since it wasn’t really the correct trail…and a bit muddy from the rain a couple days earlier. We may get lost on trails but always manage to at least go in the right direction. The hubs has a great sense of direction which is why he is the designated navigator. We found the main trail for Lake Benoist and hopped on it. It was nice seeing people again while we were walking! Lots of families riding bikes and horses. On the official trail you have 2 options, you can walk along on the nice wide trails with the bicyclists and horses up above or on a smaller one running alongside the lake. We stayed on the smaller one. The fall foliage was gorgeous! It was a beautiful day to be out and I think we will be visiting this park again and again. As you make your way around Lake Benoist you’ll see little side trails that lead over to the redwood grove. Yes, we just wander around and see where the different trails lead us. You can always turn back if it’s too scary!
We are still in awe of the majestic redwoods every time we are in a grove of them. We grew up in beach towns in So Cal with sand and ocean but no giant trees so gigantic trees are amazing to us. When you are in a grove of redwoods the ground is super soft from all the needles on the ground and it is so peaceful and calm. Seriously, if you get the chance to walk/hike through a grove of redwoods, please do so you can experience this feeling! The main trail with several people on it was just 50 feet away yet we felt like we were someplace else, someplace serene and just the two of us.
Once you pop back out on the nicely groomed trail and join the rest of the world you are treated to beautiful views of the little lake. Next time we are out on the wine tasting trails we will have to stop in here for a picnic. It’s a very, very nice picnic area. Probably the best we have seen in the Sonoma County so far.
Hope you enjoy the pics below as much as we enjoyed getting lost and taking them!
Photography 101 – Landscapes (views of the lakes), swarm (grove of redwoods).