Updated: Feb 27, 2022
Summary: Located just West of the City of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California, is the largest freshwater wetlands on the Northern California coast. Here, there are walking trails that are also open to horseback riders., with one main ~4 mile out-and-back trail, along with several shorter loops throughout the Laguna. For photographers, there is an abundance of wildlife and water reflections to capture.
Getting there. From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North to Santa Rosa. Head West on Highway 12. There are several points of entry, but the most commonly used are the parking lot off of Highway 12, just before the town of Sebastopol or on Occidental Road, which runs somewhat parallel to Highway 12, where a parking lot also sits. Photos may be taken from the side of the road on corner of Occidental Road and High School road.
About the Laguna de Santa Rosa. These wetlands stretch 22-miles and is the largest tributary to the area's largest river, the Russian River. This 30,000+ acre wetland is the home of all sorts of wildlife, including over 200 species of birds. Visitors can learn more about the wetlands and conservation efforts by stopping by the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, Environmental Center.
The Trails. Sonoma County Parks has a set of trails that run through one section of the Laguna. If you park on one end, the roundtrip is approximately 4 miles of flat, easy trail. It is perfect for families with kids. There are also shorter offshoots that you can take from the main trail to add mileage. Tip: Wear long pants and/or tick repellant.
Wildlife. The Laguna de Santa Rosa is home of a ton of bird life, but also mammals like bobcats, river otters, and coyotes. If you venture out early or late in the day, be on the lookout for mountain lions which have been spotted in the area from time-to-time.