Mapping some missing segments

Cougar Mountain
Cougar Mountain seen in the distance from the trail. Red-winged blackbirds loved the high grass on the right.
User: Austin Explorer - 5/20/2018

Location: San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Rating: 2stars
Difficulty: 2stars  Solitude: 4stars
Miles Hiked: 6.11 Miles  Elapsed Time: 2 hours, 44 minutes


Coppertone and I were looking for something flater and easier after our Hood Mountain Transect last week and flat is definitely what we got here.  There were also a few trail segments we hadn't yet hiked that I wanted to map.

We set off from the Lakeville Road trailhead, which seems by far the best bet this part of the wildlife refuge.  There's a reference to parking down near Port Sonoma, but the parking area here is well used and easy to get to.

Our first leg was going down what we'll call the HQ Trail leading towards the cluster of buildings near Highway 37 that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses to help manage the property.  The path along here is very well maintained gravel.  Though one field of grassland had been recently cut others are left to grow high grass that red winged blackbirds in particular seem to love.  They were almost a contstant companion on this trail.  Turning around at the cluster of HQ buildings we were led for some distance by a killdeer who mocked injury as she coaxed us farther away from her nest nearby.

At the junction of trails near the train tracks we then headed west along Sonoma Baylands Trail.  We had saved this segment for last because we had high hopes that it would be the better of the two.  The trail surface is a seldom used jeep trail that is a bit overgrown in places.  Unfortunately, the rougher path did not translate into much better opportunities for wildlife viewing.  Low tide may have dried out some of the marshy areas to the south during our visit, limiting the number of ducks and other waterfowl one might normally see.

One thing we did see in terms of wildlife was bird egg shells and a couple of bird parts along the levee path.  We noticed that these kill sites seemed to correspond with the very large nest perched at the top of one of the high tension power line poles that cross the area.  We could see some movement in the nest, but we did not have binoculars and did not spot anything coming or going during our hike.  Perhaps mother and father pick apart whatever game they've captured within view of the nest before heading home?

The turnaround point near Port Sonoma corresponds with a jeep trail that loops around and crosses the train tracks.  It's not obvious exactly where the parking is a little further down the road.

A grand total a 6.11 miles and almost no elevation gain.  A welcome relief from the mountain climbing from last week!

Log Photos
Cougar Mountain
Sonoma Baylands Trail
Recommended Item
Recommended Item 101 Hikes in Northern California: Exploring Mountains, Valley, and Seashore
Matt Heid
List Price: $17.95 Your price: $13.60 Buy Now
101 Hikes in Northern California encompasses the full spectrum of the region’s incredible natural diversity—the jagged granite of the High Sierra, crashing surf of the Pacific Coast, magnificent redwoods of the North Coast, spectacular views of the Bay Area, and much more. All trips have been thoroughly updated for the second edition, and 26 trips have been significantly expanded or reworked. Each hike description includes an easy-to-use header outlining the trip basics, driving directions, an in-depth trail description, up-to-date map, and the locations of the nearest visitor center and campground.