Armstrong Woods – East Ridge Trail

Armstrong Woods East Ridge Trail | Smiling in Sonoma

Do you have one of those places that keep drawing you back? Armstrong Woods is definitely one of them for us. I feel at peace when I am amongst the beautiful giants. The ground is soft, the air is calm and I feel so protected by their size and a sense of wonder with how they have survived for hundreds of years.

We arrived at the visitor center parking lot early so we could find a parking spot near the beginning of the trail and I was a little worried it would be crowded since James Franco had tweeted about hiking in the redwoods earlier in the week (nope! Didn’t run into him but would have been a great hiking partner!). It was empty, yay! We would have the trails to ourselves. Headed up, straight up the East Ridge trail and enjoyed the views of the redwoods along the way. Once we started seeing the tops of the giants we knew why our calves were burning…that was pretty high up!

We had a few speed walkers pass by us and a short while later we noticed a mama deer and her 2 babies nibbling on young trees. The mama didn’t mind us being nearby but the babies stayed further down behind some young trees and just watched us. They were so adorable! We kept going along the roller coaster trail with the ups and downs until reaching one ridge, then another, then another, then down to a creek with a trickle flowing and back up. We were in shade most of the time except when we would pop out to these meadows that would reward our hard work with gorgeous views and a gentle breeze. When you are in the forest it is easy to not realize that there is a world out there beyond the forest, these little pop outs were a nice reminder we were part of this amazing area!

The tippy top of the hike did not disappoint! We were higher up than when we drove to the “top” in January (see previous post here). The views were crazy beautiful! We could see for miles in all directions! I still pinch the hubs to see if we really do live here in all this beauty! There’s a bench at the top where the trails go in 4 different directions so we stopped and consulted our handy dandy new book, 95 Day Hikes Around Sonoma County, which had not only a good description of the hike but also a map of just a couple of the hikes. We typically get lost so this has come in handy for us. 🙂

We crossed the road we drove up on earlier in the year and headed back down on the Pool Ridge Trail only to find more little pop outs with gorgeous views! Down, down we went on several switchbacks trying to make up a little time from all the stops we did, oh and the climbing we took longer than normal to go a mile…but I blame all the gorgeous spots that slowed us down. We saw the abandoned apple grove with a ton of apples on the trees but didn’t venture down to it. Can you imagine how good those would be? The birds were feasting on them.

Once we reached the forest floor I feel this calmness come over me and take a deep breath. No longer was I worried about time and getting to our next adventure for the day. I was just present in the moment and taking in the calmness…then we reached the visitor center parking lot and the real world with all the hustle and bustle came rushing back.

It was good motivation though to get to our next destination, the Civil War days reenactment in Duncans Mills.

Enjoy the views! Leave a comment below of your favorite place to unwind!

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