Walk, Wine, Woof

Kunde Winery and the Sonoma County Humane Society team up for a great outdoor wine experience that you can share with the one you love.


2016-04-30 11.38.49.jpgFor the second time, I have taken my dogs over to Kunde Winery for a guided wine tasting hike through the vineyards.  The hikes vary in length and route.   They seem be  4 miles +/- and last about 3 hours.

The hikes take place on Saturday mornings.  The number of hikers and dogs is limited so advance registration is required.  Hikers and their dogs meet at the Kunde tasting room, 9825 Sonoma Hwy Kenwood, at 9:00 am. for a pre-hike check in and to get a wine glass for each human over 21.  The hikes are $60 (2016 price).  A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Sonoma County Humane Society, and Canine Companions.

We departed for the vineyard with our guide, Jeff Kunde and his dog cooper at about 9:20.  We were able to take the dogs off leash as soon as we crested the first hill.    For the rest of the hike, the dogs were able to remain off leash, and were allowed to run free through the vineyard and play in the many irrigation ponds.


Could this be an adoption in the making?

Our first tasting of wine came within 15 minutes, a Sauvignon Blanc.  A perfect choice at 9:45 am.  Later tastings were Chardonnay, Old Vine Zinfandel, and blend or two.  Of course there were strategically placed dog watering stations so nobody had to go thirsty.

2016-04-30 10.22.43.jpg

At the completion of the hike we were served a buffet lunch with an endless supply of wines to taste.  Doggy treats and flavored water  (bacon, mojito, and of course garden hose) for the dogs.


If you want to try something different with your best friend, check out one of these hikes.  Here is a link to the 2016 schedule: Schedule .  You can also call the hospitality desk at 707.833.5501 ext 334.  As of this writing, more hikes are scheduled in July, and in October.

Sugarloaf Waterfall Hike

IMG_2684I’ve been climbing, hiking, and biking at Sugarloaf State Park for 25 years but it was not until a few weeks ago that I went on the popular waterfall hike. I generally go to Sugarloaf to climb to the top of the 2700 ft summit of Bald Mountain so the 1 mile hike to the waterfall never seemed challenging enough. This is a must do hike.

A few weeks ago I took a group of boy scouts to Sugarloaf for a campout, and a simple hike.  They told me that they wanted to go see the waterfall.  I thought “Oh come on you guys, your boy scouts, lets go to the top of Bald Mountain” but I kept my mouth shut and let them decide where we should go.  The trail is super simple but since we are boy scouts, we grabbed a few free maps at the visitor center and set off for our hike.

IMG_2690We started at the kiosk located at the park entrance and headed down Adobe Canyon Rd (the road that brought us into the park).  We walked about 150 yards, and saw the Canyon Trail trailhead on the left side of the road.  We hiked down the Canyon Trail a half mile till we came to a sign with an arrow stating “Waterfall”.  The waterfall was just around the corner.   To get a good view, we climbed over a few rocks but once in position, the view was awesome. The location of the falls isolates you from the rest of the park.  You can not see the road, campground, or other visitors other than those at the waterfall.  The water falls about 20-25′ high, and crashes down onto the boulders below, collecting in a shallow pool.  I wished I had brought a small chair so I could relax and just let the sound of the water take me to another place.  Unfortunately, I had 15 kids who had other plans.

We completed our hike by continuing down the Canyon Trail until it came to Adobe Canyon Road again. We crossed Adobe Canyon, walked up the road 30 yards, and caught the Pony Gate Trail on the opposite side of the street which took us back to the kiosk.  Round trip the hike was about 2+ miles.

Due to the nature of the water cycle in California, the waterfall hike would be best done in spring.  I do not know if water even flows in that river August or September.

If you want to shorten the hike, I’d recommend just hiking the Canyon Trail to the waterfall, then turning back.  This would make it slightly over 1 mile total.  The trail is steep and would be difficult for somebody who had balance or walking disabilities.  Some parts of the trail has stairs build into it.

No dogs or bikes on this trail.  Water and bathrooms are available at the park visitor center.  The trail is moderately strenuous but short.  Poison Oak is abundant and there is a fee to bring a car into the park. Beware of Rattlesnakes especially on the Pony Gate Trail.

Sugarloaf State Park is located in Kenwood, a mere 10 minute drive from Rincon Valley

Tomales Point

Tomales PointWe are so lucky to have some of the most beautiful landscape within a short drive from Santa Rosa.  The Point Reyes National Seashore is a short 50 minute drive from Rincon Valley, and has a nice variety of sights and endless trails.  The Tomales Point trail, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of coastal hikes in northern California.

Herds of Tule Elk are there to greet you on this 10 mile “out and back” hike.  The trail is mostly flat with unbeatable views of the Pacific Ocean, Tomales Bay,  and very close encounters with Tule Elk.

Gwen and I did this hike for the first time this month (first week of April).  We parked at the end of Pierce Point Road at the historic Pierce Point Ranch where we found the trailhead conspicuously posted. We walked past the historic ranch along the Tomalas Point trail, along the coast, and out to the point. Once at the point, we chose to climb down a steep dirt trail where we were able to see sea lions basking in the sun on the rocks below.  We enjoyed our lunches, and headed back to the car.

The trail is mostly a stable dirt fire road with some gentle hills and occasional sand.  There are no other trail junctions so a map is not necessarily needed.  There is only one way out, and one way back.  We saw plenty of other hikers, and noticed individuals, and some small groups picnicking along the bluffs overlooking the ocean. Wild flowers were abundant to include Wild Iris, poppies, Thistle, and other native California varieties.

Before wrapping up our hike, we walked through the historic Pierce Point Ranch which is a renovated 1850’s dairy facility  that is open to the public.  Visitors are welcome to take a short self guided walking tour of the ranch. IMG_2584 Getting there: From Santa Rosa, I recommend driving through Petaluma, west on D Street.  This turns into Tomales-Petaluma Road.  Turn left onto Hwy 1 and drive to Point Reyes Station.  Turn right on Sir Francis Drake Blvd and right on Pierce Point Rd.  Drive to the end and park in the parking lot of historic dairy.  See the attached map below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bathrooms and water are available at the trailhead but nothing is available once you hit the trail.  Count on a minimum of 3 hours to do this hike.  Cellular signal was available on the hike (Verizon).  Check weather before you go, and bring a warm layer.  No dogs, bikes or camping.  A camera is highly recommended. Spring and fall are the best times to go. After the hike there is a great beach 200 yards from the trailhead.  If a meal sounds good, Gwen and I ate at Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes, an excellent choice for organic meats and locally grown produce. Getting there:

Sugarloaf/McCormick Ranch

0629a03c-e4a2-4c7c-9554-dbcbda8e1882 I love hiking at Hood Mountain Regional Park & Open Space Preserve.  It is in Rincon Valley, and only a 15 minute drive from the Saint Francis Shopping Center.  When I hike there I rarely see another person, and enjoy spectacular views of the Valley of the Moon. There are two entrances to the park.  The most popular entrance/parking lot is off Pythian Road near Oakmont.  The other is at the end of Los Alamos Rd. The latter is closer to Rincon Valley, but seems less frequently used, probably because the road leading to it is so winding. I was short on time recently and decided I’d take my dogs to Hood Mountain for a quick local hike.   I parked at the west entrance which is at the end of Los Alamos Road.  I went along the Hood Mountain Trail which starts at the parking lot.  I eventually came to a split in the trail where I could either continue on to Hood Mountain Summit or enter the Sugarloaf Park/McCormick Ranch Addition.  I’ve hiked to the Hood Mountain summit before so I decided to check out the Sugarloaf/McCormick Ranch Addition, which I had not been to before. IMG_2469The Sugarloaf/McCormick Ranch entrance is a very clearly marked trailhead.  There is only one trail and although the name is not clearly marked on the trailhead, it is called Quercus Trail.  Again, there is only one trail, so you won’t be confused about where to go.  The Quercus Trail has one easy water crossing that can be leaped over.  The trail continues moderately up a poorly maintained fire road under a canopy of oak and bay trees 3/4 mi. until you come to a clearing and the Headwaters Trail.    If you stay right, the Headwater Trail ends shortly.  If you turn left on the Headwaters Trail, you will travel up a moderate grade fire road along the perimeter of a beautiful clearing with spectacular views. I recommend completing your journey by walking up the Headwaters Trail to the Grandmother Tree Trail which is only about a 10 minute walk.  The Grandmother Tree Trail is on the right and continues another 3/4 mi.  The Grandmother Tree is a beautiful place to sit and look over the beautiful open space.  Lots of wildlife, beautiful views, and few people make this  5 mile out-and-back hike a real treat. view from grandmother Here are the highlights: 1) Begin at the Hood Mountain Regional Park parking lot at the end of Los Alamos Road 2) Hike the Hood Mountain Trail 1.5 miles to the Sugarloaf Ridge/McCormick Addition entrance (it’s clearly marked) 3) Hike the Quercus Trail (not marked but it’s the only trail) 1.5 miles to the Headwaters Trail 4) Turn left at the Headwaters Trail and hike up the hill to the Grandmother Tree Trail 5) Turn right and hike the Grandmother Tree Trail to the tree 6) Sit under the Grandmother Tree and take time to enjoy what a beautiful area we live in! The above mentioned distances are estimates only Notes: This hike is intermediate to strenuous with some unstable loose ground and steep elevation. Mountain bikes are allowed but I’d rate this as an intermediate to expert trail.  Mountain bikes are not allowed on the Grandmother Tree trail. Always hike with a map ! Take a free map from the box in the parking lot or print the one posted below. Once you leave the parking lot, there is no running potable water but there are great creeks if you have a purification system. Dogs are allowed in Hood Mountain but NOT allowed in Sugarloaf/McCormick Ranch. Cell phone coverage is unreliable. There are few to no rangers or park staff to assist you. Parking at Hood Mountain is $7 and an outhouse is available. Rattlesnakes and Poison Oak are in the area. Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 6.04.35 AM  Full Hood Mountain Regional Park map link

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I love living in Rincon Valley!  I’ve lived here since 1995 and can’t imagine living in a better north bay community.  Call me today if you’re interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you’d like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney Rincon Valley Realtor

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor


  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley – Santa Rosa