by Bob Neale
A gorgeous relaxing morning on top of Pole Mountain. Of course, I took the easy way up with our truck and volunteers, Tovar and Louise. We wanted to make sure that we were at the top of the mountain to greet the first hikers, get their first impressions and give them Sonoma Land Trust hats and high fives on this inaugural weekend. Yes — at long last, the Sea to Sky Trail from Highway 1 outside of Jenner to the top of Pole Mountain is open. We had 18 inspiring hikers come to the top on this beautiful early fall day. Now, I’ve thought of it as a rugged, thigh-busting 15-mile round trip hike to the highest point on the coast. But judging from the hikers faces, I was totally wrong. Smiles all the way around. All ages: men and women, young and old, speed hikers and runners (yes … at least three runners that Saturday!), hikers and slow walkers. Most of the people were new to Pole Mountain, but some were volunteers and friends who had been there before. Everyone gushed about the beauty, the trail, the views, their excitement. I am inspired by their enthusiasm and energy and feel so stoked that the Land Trust and our partners, The Wildlands Conservancy and Sonoma Ag + Open Space, are able to bring this unique hiking opportunity to the coast.
Most of the hikers filled out simple surveys to share their experience and help guide our future management. In general, people took about 3 to 4 hours to make it to the top (I would assume another 2–3 to make it back down) and most, wisely, brought 2–3 liters of water. Without tooting our horn too much, some of the comments they shared are:
One of the best trails in the county!
I loved the views near Raptor Ridge.
The view at the top makes the
Most people described themselves as being in good to excellent shape and rated the hike a 5–7 on a scale of 10. Some did describe the hike as “Hard!,” or even “Brutal,” but most simply said the hike is “Great!”
As California residents, we all know that right now is the best weather of the year, especially at the coast. What I want to know is, what are you waiting for? Come out and give the Sea to Sky Trail a try! You won’t be disappointed. For directions, go to our website sonomalandtrust.org. You will find a downloadable map there that shows the trail to Pole Mountain, as well as other (less arduous) trails on the Jenner Headlands Preserve. Remember, bring suitable hiking footwear, sunscreen and a hat (it can be very sunny out there), and 2–3 liters of water per person. Here is a secret tip as well: While most people stand at the top and look west and south along the coast, the truly unique and amazing views are east and north across the interior of the County. I really don’t think you get a view like this anywhere else that is accessible to the public. So, grab your walking stick and gorp — good old raisins and peanuts — and come join us!
Sea to Sky trail map
Check out photos from opening weekend!
Learn more about Pole Mountain and the Jenner Headlands
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.