Perched atop the mountain ridges between the Sonoma and Napa Valley of Northern California, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is a mecca for hikers. These aren't those deep-woodsy hikes where you never seem to arrive anywhere - these are mountain summits. The views from 2,729 foot Bald Mountain will have you stopping for photos all day. Visitors can see the patchwork of vineyards to the East and West, as well as San Francisco and the Bay area to the South.
The campground lays in a meadow at around 1,200 feet and is filled with large oak and redwood trees and the peaceful sounds of Sonoma Creek, which carves right past twelve of the campsites. There are no hook-ups or dump station and the spaces are on the small side. This is old fashioned camping, away from the buzz of electricity and traffic. The only noise here is likely to be kids playing around the creek and the occasional mountain biker whooping at they zip down the trails nearby. The villages and towns of nearby Sonoma valley are famous for world-class wines and your visit could easily be a fun mixture of rustic forest camping and luxurious wine-tastings and dining options.
The park is open year-round and has activities going on all year, thanks to the Robert Ferguson Observatory which opens to the public each month. There are hiking trails, a fishing stream, mountain bike paths, and modern clean bathrooms and showers to clean up after a day of adventure. There are picnic tables and fire rings at each of the sites and free Wi-Fi available at the Visitor Center.
Far from big city lights and noise, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is perfect for those looking to explore Sonoma Valley or simply relax in the unspoiled nature that surrounds the park. Adobe Canyon Road accesses the park off the Sonoma Highway in downtown Kenwood. The road is popular with cyclists, many of whom stay at the campground and ride to the wineries for the day. Keep your eyes out for bikes flying down the mountain, and keep your camera on hand if you are riding shotgun because Sonomona highway offers scenic mountain views no matter which direction you are coming from.
The roads in the park are reasonable for small motorhomes and not much more. Large oak branches could be a real concern for larger RVs and 5th Wheels, so you'll have to camp elsewhere if you need the clearance. The sites are all either back-in or small pull-outs which are designed with tents in mind. The trees provide welcome shade in the summer, but still open up for good solar panel exposure at several sites.
Additional parking can be found near the campground, Visitor Center, observatory, and various trailheads. These lots often fill up fast during the busy summer months, so it might be a good idea to bring your bikes along with you in the motorhome if you are staying overnight.
The family-friendly, top-rated, award-winning San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA campground resort is in a coastal California paradise near San Francisco, Sonoma County, Napa Valley, the Golden Gate Bridge, and area beaches. Adults can enjoy casinos and wineries. The SMART train stop is nearby for easy access to local attractions such as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Six Flags Marine World, Petaluma Adobe State Historical Park, and outlet shopping. On-site, the campground features a pool and spa, a mega playground, a jumping pillow, a Kamping Kitchen, a snack bar, a dog park, and planned activities including karaoke, hayrides, and live entertainment.
This 47-site campground has no hookups or dump-station, but there is room for small RVs and trailers. Each site is equipped with a picnic table and fire ring, and there are flush toilets, renovated coin showers, and potable water available nearby. There is Wi-Fi at the Visitor Center, but none in the campground and no cell reception. Numerous hiking trails depart right from the campground, making it easy to stay entertained during your stay. Reservations are recommended, as only 11 sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Note that although pets are allowed in the campground, they are not allowed on any of the trails in the park. Guests should also note that and alcohol is prohibited.
Of the 47 RV campsites available at Sugarloaf Ridge, 11 are available on a first-come, first-served basis. These pet-friendly campgrounds are primitive with no hookups available. Those looking to snag a spot during the summer months may want to consider making a reservation, as sites fill up quickly.
If you couldn't find a spot to park the rig at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, don't fret; there are plenty of alternative options in the surrounding area. Whether you're looking for a state park or private RV resort, you won't have to go far to find a place to park the campervan for a night or two. If you're looking to stay close to Sonoma and Sugarloaf Ridge, there are several private RV parks that offer an array of amenities like full hookups, seasonal swimming pools, laundry facilities, and even doggie daycares.
If you prefer state park camping vibes, head about an hour to the west and park at one of Sonoma Coast State Park's RV friendly campsites. Although no hookups are available, overnight guests will have over 100 sites to choose from -- some of which are right on the beach!
Those coming to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park with a group can stay at the park's group camping area. The campground can accommodate up to 50 tent campers and is equipped with picnic tables, a barbecue, a fire ring, water faucets, and vault toilets. The group campground is located next to the Vally of the Moon Observatory and the Lower Bald Mountain Trail, making for endless hours of entertainment. Reservations are required for the group campground and can be made up to six months in advance.
The park trails are open to mountain bikes, and the area is popular for difficult terrain, steep drops, and rewarding viewpoints. The Bald Mountain Summit, though one of the steepest in the park at nearly 3,000 feet, is very popular with bikers. The view from the top can be epic on a clear day, so don't forget your camera in the pop-up. Access from the Grey Pine Trail makes this an 8.5-mile ride with about 2,600 feet of climbing. Trails are often slippery and wet, even during dry weather. There is a paved road up and a heart-pounding run down a rutted fire road for the descent. It's a good time in any weather, but visitors come for the views.
The headwaters of Sonoma Creek run right through the campground, and several lucky visitors have it running right behind their site. The water is crystal clear and clean (though it should still be filtered for drinking) and is home to a thriving population of trout, steelhead, and even Chinook salmon. The salmon are a protected species, so be sure to check the California Fish and Game for regulations and fishing licenses. The creek rolls over large rocks and boulders, creating perfect eddies for fish and wading spots for fly fishermen. Do watch out for stinging nettle and poison oak on the riverbanks.
Fall and winter rains make the Mayacamas Mountains come to life with rushing streams and fruiting fungi. The Sonoma Ecology Center partners with Sugarloaf Ridge State Park to present a mushroom walk around January each year. There are different speakers and topics, but the event typically blends classroom time, field hiking, and lots of post-hike study and identification. You may never look at the forest floor the same way again. With the help of mushroom experts, you'll be able to spot and identify a large variety of fungi that you may have previously been walking right past! Space is limited, so make sure to obtain tickets ahead of time, if you'd like to participate in the hike during your RV trip to Sugarloaf Ridge.
If you are not from the area, make sure you take advantage of the world-class vineyards and wine-tasting just minutes away in the Sonoma Valley. You'll find everything from exclusive vineyard-only wines served in a castle to kid- and pet-friendly stops with wallet-friendly budget wines. Whatever your style, you're sure to find several favorites with hundreds of wineries in the region. If you are interested in wine, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is perfectly located for days of exploring -- just be sure you have a sober driver to maneuver the campervan back to the park!
With over 25 miles of trails, Sugarloaf Ridge is clearly a destination for hikers. Once you park the Sprinter and set up camp, you can stretch your legs. The summit of Bald Mountain provides views of the Sonoma Valley all the way to the Bay Area. The park is also laid out with a scale representation of the solar system. Starting at the Sun, this hike is a 4.5-mile round-trip journey all the way to Pluto. The trailhead is at the corner of the observatory, and each step represents about one million miles of travel through space. Note that the trail is a bit steep and rocky between Uranus and Neptune.
Open at least once a month for new moon skies, the Robert Ferguson Observatory is open to the public and hosts evening star parties. Astronomy presentations are given in a classroom building as it starts to get dark. Later, the three large telescopes of the observatory are made available and staff even set up telescopes outside when there are larger groups. Everyone is given red cellophane to cover flashlights and headlamps to preserve "night vision." If you can't make the evening session, special solar telescopes are set up in the morning to let you safely look and listen to the sun.