California State Parks,
From US 101 in Sonoma County, exit CA 12. Head east, making a few turns to stay on 12: turn left on Farmer's Lane and right on 4th Street. Then turn right on Mission Boulevard and immediately get into the left lane. Turn left onto Montgomery, and then turn right onto Channel Drive. Stay on Channel at the junction with the road to Spring Lake, and park in the first dirt lot on the left side of the road, across from the Cobblestone Trailhead. (By the way, everyone seems to have their own special way to get to this park. Feel free to consult a detailed map, and find your own way.)
Pay $6 entrance fee at ranger station (self register). Parking for about 20 cars, more in other parts of the park. There's a map under glass at this trailhead, but none to take with you. If you don't have a map (if you don't know the park, you'll need one), drive a bit further down Channel Drive to the ranger station and pick one up there. No restrooms. Gas, restaurants, and stores on CA 12, a few miles to the west. Public transportation to the park is available; visit the Transit Info website for details.
All but one trail are multi-use. Dogs are not allowed on the trails.
The Official Story:
CSP's Annadel page
Annadel Ranger Station 707-539-3911
Map Choices/More Information:
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Download the park map pdf from CSP's website.
60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco, by Jane Huber (yup, that's me, the creator of this website) has a simple map and a featured hike. Order this book from Amazon.com.
SonomaNet's Annadel page has a few photos and trails descriptions, as well as some historical information.
David Weintraub's North Bay Trails has a detailed map (unfortunately, not all trails are marked) and descriptions of trails (order this book from Amazon.com).
Jean Rusmore's The Bay Area Ridge Trail (order this book from Amazon.com) has a map of the park and descriptions of the Ridge Trail segment.
View 51 photos from the featured hike
Annadel State Park is a popular Sonoma County recreation area. Cyclists adore the many challenging singletrack trails. Anglers try their luck for black bass and bluegill at Lake Ilsanjo. Rock hounds will find Annadel of interest, for volcanic rocks are present, and large piles of rocks (I think these piles are the cobblestone which was quarried in the early 1900s) can be found in scree-like abundance.
Hikers will find themselves frequently sharing the trails with cyclists. All but one trail are multi-use. Visit in autumn and spring, when cycling traffic drops a bit. The deciduous oaks are gorgeous in autumn, and spring wildflowers are plentiful. Summer is stifling, and winter muddy. The Bay Area Ridge Trail passes through Annadel, and connects the park to neighboring Spring Lake Regional Park, which is managed by Sonoma County.
It's easy to get lost at Annadel, or at least to wander off your predetermined course. There are plenty of unsigned trails and deer paths. When I hiked at Annadel in October 2000, I found myself scratching my head at 4 consecutive junctions. The first three were completely unsigned, and the fourth just confused me. I had an idea where I was (and always knew what direction I was heading), but even after a lengthy sit down with the official map at home, I'm not sure what trails I was on. (An email to the state park was unanswered, so it'll take another trip to the park to clear things up.) This described featured hike may not be the best choice for beginning hikers or those who are "directionally challenged." If you do attempt it, be sure to bring a map, and consider visiting the ranger station for trail clarification.
For the featured hike, start at the Channel Drive trailhead. Begin hiking uphill on the signed Cobblestone Trail, which starts next to the information signboard. Gradually ascending, Cobblestone Trail is a narrow path open to cyclists and equestrians as well as hikers. California bays, which sprawl along the rocky trail, give way to oaks and grassland after a few steps. As the trail climbs, it passes some large old manzanitas, but oaks and California bays retain the dominant foothold. You might see evergreen coast live oaks, and deciduous black, blue, and oregon oaks. Black oaks are particularly lovely and conspicuous in autumn, when their leaves turn a brilliant yellow. A bit later, in winter, trailside toyon shrubs lend their vibrant red berries to the drab landscape. The rocky surface of the trail demands carefully footsteps. Cobblestone Trail reaches a grassy flat meadow. The park's boundary stands off to the right; stay to the left on the trail, then keep to the left again as a signed (but unnamed trail) feeds into Cobblestone.
Some large poison oak shrubs dot the grassland. Cobblestone Trail makes its way back into the woods. Volcanic-looking rocks poke up through the dirt, and some rocks lie off the sides of the trail. While towing the line between tree cover and meadow, look back to the north across a valley for a great view of the rugged hills around Mount Hood and Sugarloaf State Park. A signposts directs you to the left, then Cobblestone Trail steps out into a pretty flat meadow, dotted with old fruit (pear?) trees. A curious collection of rock cairns sits off to the right. Continuing an easy ascent on Cobblestone, the trail heads back into a Douglas fir and oak forest. At about 1 mile, Cobblestone Trail meets Orchard Trail at a signed junction. Turn right.
The flat, wide path almost immediately splits. Both ends rejoin shortly, but stay to the right. On a hike in autumn, I saw a group of 16 wild turkeys walking down this path. In an orderly fashion, they turned off the trail in a single file line, then scattered, picking their way uphill through the fallen leaves, spread out like an organized search party. After passing the other end of the split, feeding in from the left, the trail passes through a hill, in what appears to be a deliberately cut channel (like a mini roadcut). Then the trail splits again. Stay to the left. The very narrow path winds through a heavily forested stretch, then emerges to edge along the side of a hill, with unobstructed views west. A strange swale of hand-sized rocks stretches uphill to the left. A rough path seems to head uphill through this scree. Stay on the trail. In a clearing of coyote brush and manzanita, the trail passes a second larger pile of rocks. A trail may be visible downhill to the right, on its way to Spring Lake. The trail creeps past some oaks, then reaches an unsigned junction. Turn left.
The path is narrow, but easy to follow as it takes a level tack to the north. Black oaks, coast live oaks, and manzanita are common. After ducking beneath a low-hanging tree branch, you reach another unsigned junction. Turn left.
Dark, thick woods obstruct any views. You finally reach a signed junction. All three trails seem to be Orchard, but in any case turn left. The trail descends gradually to the previously encountered junction with Cobblestone Trail. Turn right and retrace your steps to the trailhead.
Total mileage: I'm guessing about 3 miles
Last hiked: Tuesday, October 31, 2000
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