Sugar Rush

Hike to a Waterfall at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is in the heart of wine country. This 4,000-acre open space straddles the Sonoma and Napa Valleys in the Mayacamas Mountains. And its trails are something special, with wildflowers, waterfalls, and nearby wineries!

Sonoma Creek’s seasonal waterfall is currently on full display, charging through a smattering of boulders. And it’s easy to reach! In 15 minutes you can be lounging in the shaded canyon next to the roaring waterworks and cooling your feet in the crystal stream.

For a longer hike in the park, offering the best view of Sonoma Valley, hike Bald Mountain via its most straightforward route—combining the Stern Trail and Bald Mountain Trail. Get an early start and follow the wide trail as it winds among Sugarloaf’s hills, becoming more exposed the higher you go.

Gallery image 1 of 4
Gallery image 2 of 4
Gallery image 3 of 4
Gallery image 4 of 4

California poppies are strewn along the path and across the hills. From the summit, you get a view of Sonoma Valley’s town of Kenwood and St. Helena in Napa Valley. Pro tip: This is an amazing sunset and full-moon hike (just bring a flashlight for the hike down).

BONUS WINE: Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is close to many excellent wineries, so you can’t go wrong for your post-hike tastings. A few we like: Set high in the Mayacamas, lovely Hanzell Vineyards offers tastings by appointment only. The winery is best known for its multiple-award-winning chardonnays and pinots, but they’ve also got an outstanding farm tour with incredible wine-country views, where you’ll see some progressive winemaking philosophies in action, and meet some seriously cute animals, including pigs, sheep, and chickens. Imagery Estate Winery (named 2018 Golden State Winery of the Year) has a scenic outdoor picnic area and equally excellent wines (“rosé all day” types will love it here, but be sure to broaden your palate and give the Sangiovese a try).

Gallery image 1 of 4
Gallery image 2 of 4
Gallery image 3 of 4
Gallery image 4 of 4

BONUS FILM FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND: Just named a Top 10 Film Festival by USA Today, pair your waterfall with some wine and a screening good time at the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) this weekend (Thursday, March 28 to Sunday, March 31).From shorts and documentaries to feature-length excellence, all of the movie venues are walking distance to Sonoma’s lively plaza. Hang out with the filmmakers, meet the stars, sip wine, eat great food, and—of course—get to those parties!

NOTE: Due to recent storms, be sure to check Sugarloaf’s website to see conditions on trails and any closures. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is 11 miles north of Sonoma on Hwy. 12. To reach the waterfall, park at the turnout by the Pony Gate Trail, just before the main entrance to the park. Take the Canyon Trail down. Or, park at the main trailhead by the visitor center and follow the Canyon Trail down from its other end. To reach Bald Mountain from the visitor center, take the Stern Trail and Bald Mountain Trail. No dogs.

Trending Stories Northern CA

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    Hidden Stairways of SF: Urban Hike

    This guided hike sold out fast, but new dates have been added! Get outdoors and explore the hidden stairways and gardens of San Francisco anew. Small group and socially distanced.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Lookout for This View!

    Sierra Buttes Lookout, at a lofty 8,591 feet, is a memory maker for its pucker-worthy stairway to the tower’s balcony. It's a 5-mile (round-trip) hike to reach it. And the reward? Epic!

    View
  3. Image that represents the story

    Ah, Good Point

    Ready for a rewarding view? Head to to one of the Peninsula’s favorite promontories: Mori Point. Climb your way up the Bootlegger’s Steps to the Mori Point headland for awesome vantages of the San Mateo Coast.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Sleeper Hit

    It's all about the water, and the camping, at Utica Reservoir in Stanislaus National Forest, a High Sierra reservoir perfect for kayak explorations and pitching your tent lakeside..

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Image that represents the story

    Duck, Duck, Goose!

    Try to get a first-come, first-served campsite at one of the Lakes Basin’s lakeside campgrounds. We love Goose Lake Campground, where there are just 14 sites and no motorized boats.

    View
  2. Image that represents the story

    Shealor Stunner

    Robust mountains, striking slabs of granite, and deep green pine reflections make Shealor Lake near Kirkwood resort a jewel of the El Dorado National Forest. Reach this alpine oasis on a 1.3-mile hike.

    View
  3. Image that represents the story
    Sponsored

    National Parks Road Trip: Circle of Discovery!

    Love national parks? Love road trips? Combine the two on one fabulous Circle of Discovery route in Northern California and Southern Oregon! This itinerary features 7 national parks with wondrous features.

    View
  4. Image that represents the story

    Peak-a-View!

    Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the entire country and the seventh deepest in the world. For one of the very best perspectives of this shining blue beauty, hike up to Garfield Peak.

    View