Springtime at the Lake

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Barbie and Sister prepare for a thrilling ride on Lake Sonoma


Sunday, April 17th provided the perfect ingredients for a bike romp around Lake Sonoma. Making the ride even more pleasant than previous sorties is the fact that the ride is now LEGAL!

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The weather cooperated with a cool, breezy day. We decided to start at the Liberty Glen campground and ride 'backwards' around the lake. Normally we start at the Skaggs Springs parking lot and ride clockwise. We had two cars and decided to avoid the several miles on the pavement with a car shuffle. We parked Michel's car at the finish and drove up Rockpile Road to a spot near the entrance to the campground. From the very beginning the wildflowers were magnificent.

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Michel gazes at the beauty

The ride started out a little shaky. We decided to ride a trail that was unfamiliar but headed in, more or less, the correct direction. It was a pleasant trail that paralleled the highway, crossed a foot bridge and eventually ended at a parking lot. Our choice was to return to the campground or descend directly downhill. We chose the latter and began to boony thrash through the tall grass assuming that we would contact the trail below. After a short but steep hike we arrived at the trail and proceeded to head into the hinterlands of the area. The trail winds its way west into the deep folds of the surrounding terrain.

We followed the Rancheria trail until we got to the split of the Strawberry Creek trail. There is an upper and lower trail to chose. The upper trail is maintained and a known quantity. The lower trail shows little signs of use. We took the lower trail and followed it until we came to three streams. At that point the trail became less obvious and we opted for what appeared to be the logical direction. It lead to an old homestead and a lovely, remote setting.

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If you see this sign, you're deep

However, this direction was not correct. Fortunately it lead back to the Upper trail. We would pass the other junction a mile or so later. The next part of the journey takes the rider over two folds in the terrain and into two different drainages, both requiring a water crossing. The first stream was seemingly shallow and the smooth bottom of the jeep road invited a riding attempt to cross. It was easy enough to ride, but the depth was greater than thought. We both experienced wet feet. This feature would make the next crossing easy.

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Michel's grand effort to keep his feet dry.... it didn't work

Once across Strawberry Creek, we found the west side trail and began the ride to the Old Sawmill campground. The trail was in great shape with the exception of a few spots where the pigs had rototilled the ground. At this point we were both getting hungry and looked forward to a nice, quiet lunch next to the lake. However as we approached the area, we began to hear loud music. It grew in volume until we arrived. On the lake, four boats had tied up to each other and twenty five or thirty people were in full party mode. In addition another boat load of people were on the shore playing with remote controlled, model boats.

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Barbie and sis annoy the party goers

We took the time to place our shoes and socks in the sun to dry. Michel broke out his rolling deli and Eric produced a big bottle of beer. This was about halfway into he ride. The food tasted especially good and the electrolyte replacement was greatly appreciated.

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Michel breaks out the rolling deli

The ride on the south side of the lake is one of mt. bikin's treats. The trail is never level, but the climbs don't last too long. The trail is smooth and clean with no technical challenges. The downhill runs are thrilling. The trail snakes across the hills and into several drainages as it progresses along the lake. The sounds of the party became distant as we proceeded towards Michel's car. At two places streams cross the trail. One place is in redwoods. Disaster struck a year ago when two of the mighty trees came down on the trail, just at the most beautiful water crossing. The area is now a jumble of tangle redwood mess and the cool, dark woods now have a large window to the sky.

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The great effort is rewarded with great beauty


Finally we arrived at the Island View overlook. We stopped briefly to gaze at the lake and the surrounding terrain. Tired we pressed on for the last climb to the car. The day had remained nearly perfect with temperatures in the sixties and with full sun. We performed the car shuffle and debated whether we had time for a beer in Healdsburg. Michel had an appointment for the evening, but by the time we finished the ride, he would miss it. That gave us plenty of time to quaff beer.

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Will the fun ever cease?


The ride was great fun and a great workout. The distance is big and the effort is massive. But the weather, the wild flowers and the entertainment at the lake made this ride unique. It was an interesting juxtaposition from the quietude of the wilderness to the bad, loud music of the boaters. It was a slice of Americana. We didn't see anyone else on the trail, although we did see bike tracks. This ride is still a sleeper, few seem to know about it. It will catch on, it's simply too nice.