The hubs and I had set out for a little adventure at Annadel State Park with just a map of the 5,200 acre park and intentions on an approximate 8 mile hike. Oh goodness can you get turned around in this park!
We started off in the official parking lot (paid the $7 fee and saved a couple of miles of walking each way) and headed up WP Richardson trail which was under a dense forest canopy. It was difficult to orient ourselves with the switchbacks and no landmarks so we were very thankful there were plenty of signs showing us where we were at on most of the early forks in the trails. Good thing we didn’t have to ask the buck and his doe we saw cruising along a creek near us! They didn’t seem too willing to stop for us. 🙂
We found the Two Quarry trail and followed it up toward Ledson Marsh veering off the trail just a bit to catch a view of this beautiful canyon below a perfectly placed picnic table.
Once we came out of the trees and reached Ledson Marsh you could see Hood Mountain and get a little better oriented. Right now the marsh is a bit dry and the cat tails are blooming and spreading their seeds everywhere! Watch for more deer here! Oh and keep your ears open for mountain bikers…they love these trails and love going fast on them!
Walk around the marsh and head toward Ridge Trail. Careful to go the correct way here, left takes you to Schultz trail and down the mountain, you want to go right. The path follows along some private property and less mountain bikers are on this trail. At first you will wonder if there will be any views other than the lovely forest below then you crest a little flat and it’s like the whole world opens up! You can see Bennett Valley on one side then look across Ledson Marsh to Sonoma Valley! It’s an amazing spot to stand in. The vineyards in both valleys were putting on quite a show for us!
From here keep climbing up Bennett Mountain and keep enjoying the views! You’ll drop down and meet up with Marsh Trail again. We opted to then take the South Burma trail once we hit Buick Meadow. This is a great spot to sit in the sun and enjoy a snack and the expansive meadow in front of you! Enjoy your break because you will then start heading up a very rocky trail through Manzanitas. Watch out again for crazy mountain bikers, they are usually pretty loud here having so much fun going down this part of the trail!
We hardly saw any other hikers along the trail. Mostly mountain bikers so the hubs and I had to entertain ourselves through the next part of the trail. Sometimes I wish I had recorded our trail conversations to listen to later and really know what we talked about for 5 hours straight together. Sometimes our conversations slow us down and our lovely little Map My Walk app reminds us to pick up the pace!
Good thing we can walk and talk at the same time…I just am unable to walk, talk and look at the beauty around us. I stepped wrong on a rock while enjoying the views which didn’t feel very good for my ankle but it wouldn’t be an adventure without me tripping or falling along the way! I was just enjoying being back in the forest…
At the next fork in the trail we hopped back on the WP Richardson Trail to head back to the parking lot. It’s nice and flat and wide so please walk, talk and enjoy the views!! Look to your left and you will enjoy a gorgeous view of Lake Ilsanjo! There’s a great tree stump to use to stretch your legs and get up on for better views of the lake over the trees.
Head up a little from here and know you still have 2 miles to go to get to the parking lot. It doesn’t look very far on the map…actually nothing does but it is definitely deceiving. Enjoy the cool down while you head back down the nicely shaded hill and enjoy the peace of being in the forest. This is your view for the next 30 – 45 minutes…not bad at all.
Annadel State Park has 40 miles of gorgeous and diverse trails of which we have only hiked about half of. Can’t wait to do more!
10.3 miles, 1,274 elevation gain, sun and shade, $7 parking fee