by Shanti Edwards
We did it! Together, with our conservation partners The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) and Sonoma Ag + Open Space, we opened the Jenner Headlands and Pole Mountain for public recreation, and invited residents and visitors alike to explore the landscape and deepen their connection with the Sonoma Coast. Since the Gateway parking lot on Highway 1 opened September 7, our trail counters indicate that 6,568 cars passed through the parking lot the first month, and nearly 300 hikers reached the Pole Mountain Summit in October. Visitation was down during the month of November due to poor air quality, but December was a busy month with a steady stream of happy hikers.
The upwelling of responses on social media has been thrilling to watch, and I am heartened by the expression of photography catalogued through the Instagram hashtag #jennerheadlandspreserve. It is quite remarkable to witness hikers' connection to the landscape through their camera lenses.
Most of all, it is truly exciting to fulfill the acquisition vision of a working ranch stewarded for ecological goals that is open to the public -- nearly 10 years after Sonoma Land Trust acquired the Jenner Headlands. The Sea to Sky trail recreational corridor is a mosaic of coastal grasslands, riparian forests, oak woodlands and coniferous forest, managed at a landscape-scale for ecological function, wildlife habitat and recreational uses. Through proactive land stewardship, these historic working ranches utilize tools like cattle grazing and forest management to promote native flora, reduce fuel loads and improve forest health -- and now the public can witness our land stewardship work firsthand! To learn more about land stewardship at the Jenner Headlands, check out this Bay Nature article.
This hiking destination puts Sonoma County on the map of world-class trail opportunities, but the Pole Mountain summit destination is only for the heartiest of hikers (unless you wish to join one of our On the Land hikes launched from the nearby Little Black Mountain preserve).
Lucky us, who live here and get to call the Sonoma County home. If you see the TWC rangers and trail stewards, be sure to thank them for their role in making this trail experience possible!
#jennerheadlandspreserve on Instagram
Shanti Edwards is a stewardship project manager for the Land Trust's preserves along the Sonoma Coast.
Sonoma Land Trust is a local nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, CA, that conserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open lands in Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations. This blog focuses on SLT's stewardship team, whose members do hands-on work to directly protect, restore, and safeguard the land for generations to come.