Wine gets all the fanfare in Sonoma Valley, but there’s another liquid asset that’s 90 points in our books! Suttonfield Lake. Make this locals’ favorite part of a 2.5-mile hike that begins near the northern boundary of 202-acre Sonoma Valley Regional Park.
Go soon because the wildflowers are still out, and bring some wine and cheese—there’s a lovely picnic table about 0.4 mile in.
Start on the Cougar Trail, where you’ll ascend briefly through oak woodland before leveling off in an area that makes you feel transported to Italy. A gorgeous compound of dream homes sit to your right as you follow the singletrack to tiny Damselfly Pond and the lone picnic table perched at a perfect angle for taking in the setting. Continue on Cougar Trail, wending up momentarily before leveling to saunter along a sublime trail flanked by oaks, with peek-a-boo views of the surrounding foothills. When you reach the intersection, turn right to follow Black Canyon Creek Trail.
You’ll briefly cross the paved Valley of the Moon Trail before getting onto Buttercup Trail, following it to turn left on Woodland Star Trail, then right on Milkmaid Trail, which leads down to Suttonfield Lake. Bear left and follow the lake trail for a few minutes along the shore, keeping an eye out for an uphill on a fire road (do not take the hairpin left trail). The fire road leads to a T-junction, where you turn left toward a giant water tank and follow until you see signs for Woodland Star Trail; this trail takes you back to the parking lot amid gorgeous fields of lupines backed by Sonoma’s foothills. There’s a bench facing south, ideal for grabbing some final relaxing minutes before the short walk back down to the parking lot.
WINE BONUS: You’re in wine country! Post-hike, and not far down the road from the park, Muscardini Cellars is a must-stop for tasting limited-edition Italian varietals (Sangiovese, Barbera, and tasty blends). There’s a nice patio out front and a lovely picnic area in the back.
Sonoma Valley Regional Park opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at sunset. $7 per vehicle for day use. Park in the lot off Hwy. 12, south of Arnold Dr. Bring a map. NOTE: The reservoir detour route can be frustrating for its lack of transparency on the map. For an alternate route, instead of detouring to the reservoir, just take Buttercup Trail to Woodland Star Trail. Either way, bring a map of Sonoma Valley Regional Park. Dog-friendly!