Hike 8: Taylor Mountain | Santa Rosa, CA

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Dog Hikes | No Comments
Hike 8: Taylor Mountain | Santa Rosa, CA

Hikers: Carol and Nat (humans) | Elvis, Glory and Willow (dogs)

Start Time: 8:00 a.m. at the parking lot off of Kawana Terrace.

Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve is prominent county landmark that offers sweeping views of the Santa Rosa Plain, and its oak woodlands, meadows, wetlands and springs are home to diverse forms of wildlife. Still in its early stages of development, Taylor Mountain has 4 miles of dirt trails along two routes, with plans for eventual development of 17 miles of multi-use trails along with low-impact campsites, picnic sites, a visitor center and other recreational amenities.

Leash Laws: Because you will often find cattle grazing at Taylor Mountain, dogs must be on leash at all times. Cows are often with their young and they are not shy! Make sure your license is up to date and on your dog’s collar.

Trail Difficulty: This park is welcoming to most levels of hikers. The Eastern trail is the more difficult of the two routes, offering a steep ascent up the side of the mountain. The Western Route offers a challenging, but more gradual, uphill hike. Great views from either trail.

Other information: The park opens from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. There is a parking lot right next to the trail entrances, there is a $7.00 fee per vehicle for day use. We saw folks parking at the bottom of the hill, but I advise against this, since many get towed on a regular basis. You can park on the street, but you will have a long walk along a narrow road to the trails.


Winters in Northern California are typically beautifully green. As the rains come, filling the sierras with white blankets of powder, we get our “winter’s spring” as I like to call it. This year however, with such an awful drought devastating California in general, we didn’t get to see a lot of rain and our lands and hills were parched. What rain did fall was greatly appreciated though, and the hills soaked it up and still deliver some of our promised wildflowers a month or two later.

On this chilly but lovely day, my friend Carol and I set out to map Taylor Mountain. I had only hiked it a couple of times before and it was a new one for Carol and her pack. Carol and I normally like to hike early, but the earliest Taylor Mountain allows for is 8:00 am.
As we set off on the Western Route Trail, a sea of wonderfully green hills welcomed us. We could see cows in the distance (it might have been a bit too early for them) and our dogs certainly were aware of their presence by the tempting patties they had left behind.


Western trail (from the parking lot) starts you off easy, flat to downhill and then curving up gently across the plains, offering you a view of where you are headed (the mountain) and sweeping views of Santa Rosa. It was so green, and the weather was foggy but golden rays of sunlight streamed through, giving us light that I have only seen in my travels through Glencoe in Scotland. It was weird and magic all at once.



As we made our way up, we hiked through pastures where cows happily grazed. They get curious about the dogs and our dogs likewise were curious as to why these enormous creatures were staring at them. Willow offered a play-bow to a young calf, but since mom was nearby, I promptly got her attention and kept moving.

Elvis and Glory, Carol’s pups, are so conditioned to seeing cows, that they don’t really think twice about them. They are simply part of the landscape. Cow patties on the other hand, my! what a delicacy. They kept sneaking bites of them when Carol and I weren’t looking.



We took our time climbing. Taylor Mountain kind of creeps up on you and you start feeling the burn a little as you get closer to the grove of trees near the top.



We paused here for some cookies and upon finding ourselves in this tiny green fairyland, we could not resist to set up a photo. As I went to compose my shot, Carol got the pups ready with cookies.


Willow always willing to perch and stay and Glory and Elvis practicing their “stay” commands while keeping eyes on the prize. I adore this photo of the three of them. It portrays who they are to the core. Our two goofy and smiley girls and our dear Elvis, such a serious little guy, garnering him the ever appropriate nickname of “Sir.”


After such a dry season in California, it is amazing what a little green will do for your senses. Everything about this place screamed “fresh”. It was so rejuvenating. That and our trail conversations of course, revolving around funny movies we needed to watch. 😀



We came out of the fairyland grove into an open field again at the top of the mountain. I’ll have to do some research on this “Historic Rock Wall” we saw, since I am not sure what the story behind it is, but Carol and I had a little laugh when she started quoting lines from The Shawshank Redemption such as that long rock wall with an oak tree at the end in a hayfield. With a mysterious rock that hand no earthly business being there… 🙂




Upon reaching the top, there is no way through (yet) to make it a full loop, so we sat down for snacks and to water the dogs. This is where I got some photographs of these three. Carol loves her dogs beyond words, and I love photographing them together every chance I get.




We laugh jokingly that whenever we have our dogs together, it’s like walking a double-stuffed Oreo cookie. The same way I am partial to my dark-coated dogs and cats, she orients to light-coated creatures. We all have our Achille’s heel 🙂


The way down the Mountain through the Easter Route Trail can be a little steep going down, so make sure you protect your knees and teach your dogs an “easy” or gentle so that they walk next to you without strain on the leash. I find string cheese to be a very effective tool to help you teach this command without having to constantly reach for treats. Let them nibble at the cheese only closest to your side when their leash is slack in a nice J form. Later on, add your command of choice. I chose “easy”, but you can also use the command “wait” if they venture out ahead of you a little too far.

By this time, the cows were near the trail and more people started to show up. Keep your dogs safe and on leash and always check for ticks before you get back in your car. They have been nasty this year.

Every time we hike with someone, we’ll ask these same questions and share their answers with you. I hope to highlight the things we all share as hiking enthusiasts, while learning from one another and creating a caring community of like-minded people.

In Carol’s Words:

Want to read carol’s interview? She was our first hike! Head on over to Hike #1 to find out more about Carol, Elvis, Glory and their favorite places to hike.

See you next time hikers! Hope to see you on the trail. Be safe and be kind to others and help keep our trails enjoyable and protected.


Nat + Willow 

Directions to Taylor Mountain:

From 101 North

  • Take exit toward Yolanda Ave/Hearn Ave.
  • Continue onto Yolanda Ave.
  • Turn Left onto Petaluma Hill Rd.
  • Turn Right onto Kawana Springs Road
  • Turn Right onto Franz Kafka Ave.
  • Franz Kafka becomes Kawana Terrace
  • Follow Kawana Terrace all the way to the parking lot on top of the hill next to the water towers
    **parking at the bottom of the hill may get you towed!

From 101 South

  • Take exit towards Hearn Ave.
  • Turn Right onto Corby Ave.
  • Turn Right onto Hearn Ave.
  • Turn Left onto Santa Rosa Ave.
  • Turn Right onto Kawana Springs Road
  • Turn Right onto Franz Kafka Ave.
  • Franz Kafka becomes Kawana Terrace
  • Follow Kawana Terrace all the way to the parking lot on top of the hill next to the water towers
    **parking at the bottom of the hill may get you towed!



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