Spring 2022 Sonoma Ecology Center California Naturalist Program

November 23, 2021


This 8-week UC-certified course explores our local ecology, engages you in citizen science, and allows you to share your knowledge with others. The 40-hour course combines a science curriculum with guest lecturers, field trips, and project-based learning to explore the unique ecology and natural history of the Inner Coastal Range of Sonoma and Napa.

If you enjoy exploring and learning about our local ecology, engaging in citizen science, and sharing your knowledge with others, this program is for you!

Watch a short introductory video on the statewide California Naturalist program: https://youtu.be/U_9N8FZRWxg


Our regional 40+ hour course combines a science curriculum with guest lecturers, field trips, and project-based learning to explore the unique ecology and natural history of the Inner Coastal Range of Sonoma and Napa. Local guest experts will attend classroom sessions and field trips utilizing the outdoor learning environment of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. The Spring 2022 course will emphasize the impact of the 2017 Nunns fire and the 2020 Glass Fires on our Sonoma Valley parks. Speakers include State Park and Sonoma Ecology Center scientists and staff, Retired Sr. Archeologist Breck Parkman, Renowned Bioacoustics expert Bernie Krause and famous retired Marin Open Space lead Naturalist, David Herlocker.

Meeting Days & Times: Wednesday evenings from March 16-May 4, 6-8:30 pm over virtual zoom sessions.

We are planning to hold 4 Saturday field trips held on at various locations around Sonoma Valley including the Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve. All field trips run from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm with the exception of our Dawn Chorus recording (5:00 am-7800 am) on May 7 with optional overnight included on the evening prior(May 7).

Fee: $489 registration

Need-based scholarships are available. Students must purchase The California Naturalist Handbook (2013, UC Press).

Course Benefits Include:

For more information contact Lead instructor Tony Passantino at Tony@sonomaecologycenter.org

Inaugural UC Climate Stewards Course w/ Sonoma Ecology Center


As one of 9 pilot programs across the state, the 7-week UC Climate Stewards  Course seeks to foster a committed corps of volunteers ready to effectively engage in transformative local solutions to promote community and ecosystem resilience in a changing climate. The UC Climate Stewards course will introduce you to social-emotional learning and trauma-aware practices, climate change communication, climate science, and community resilience planning.

This UC Climate Stewards Course will integrate locally relevant themes of fire, water and inclusion. Through guest speakers, field activities, and participatory science we will learn about and discuss principles and practices towards increasing community and ecosystem resilience to fire, drought, and floods.

Learning Outcomes

• Increase access to up-to-date and locally relevant climate science to improve climate literacy

• Improve participants’ self-efficacy and agency by fostering climate change communications skills development, civic engagement, and local conservation and community action

• Establish an inclusive community of practice focused on stewardship, communication, and community solutions to advance resilience

• Build statewide support and capacity to effectively advance state and local climate goals

Link to the UCANR Website for more FAQ and information on the curriculum: https://calnat.ucanr.edu/cs/

Mushroom Hike

November 21, 2021

Enjoy some fungi fun with local expert, George Riner. Fungi are masters of opportunity. Even after a fire, the spores are in the air and find an environment where the local fungal species – i.e. competition – have been greatly reduced. These may show themselves in ways you may not imagine.

Be prepared for two miles of leisurely walking and chatting over moderate and possibly muddy terrain. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for minors. Meet outside the Visitor Center ten minutes prior to the event start time. Please wear appropriate clothing and bring a reusable drink container so your little ones can enjoy hot cocoa after the walk. Heavy rains cancel; parking fees apply.

ParkRx – Beginning Hiking for Fitness Series

November 19, 2021

The Hiking for Fitness Series is back! Join us for the 8-week Beginner Hiking for Fitness Program. The program leaders will guide you on a series of weekly hikes with the challenge increasing each week. Before the first hike, the leader will discuss proper shoes, hydration, incorporating hiking poles, proper pacing, etc. The group’s final hike aims for the long route up Vista Trail, where hikers can enjoy the beautiful vistas.

The hiking series costs $80, or free-of-cost for hikers with a recent ParkRx (Sept 2021 or newer) from a Sonoma County Medical Provider. Click here for ParkRx info.

1) Sat 1/1 — White Barn to Uranus, 2.2 miles, 80 ft elev [meet @ white barn]
2) Sat 1/8 — Meadow-Hillside loop starting and ending at campground, 3 miles, 250 ft elev [meet @ white barn]
3) Sat 1/16 — Spring Lake-Lake Ralphine loop 4.3 miles, 250 ft elev [meet at Annadel’s Cobblestone trailhead parking lot. The nearest address is 6024 Channel Dr, Santa Rosa, CA 95409]
4) Sat 1/22 — Stern, Pony Gate and Canyon, 3 miles, 500 ft elev [meet @ main lot]
5) Sat 1/29 — Jack London State Historic Park, May’s Clearing loop, 3.7 miles, 430 ft elev [meet @ 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, upper parking lot]
6) Sat 2/5 — Vista Trail loop (clockwise), 3.6 miles, 700 ft elev [meet @ white barn]
7) Sat 2/12 — Neptune picnic table, 4.3 miles, 640 ft elev [meet @ white barn]
8) Sat 2/19 — Hillside + Vista Trail loop (counter-clockwise), 4.7 miles, 1000 ft elev [meet @ white barn]

Wear appropriate footwear for muddy or slippery trails and layers, as the group hikes in light rains. Bring water, and if desired, a snack. The group will be limited to 35 participants. County Health guidelines will be applicable.


First Day Hike at Sugarloaf

Celebrate the New Year with Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and California State Parks in this annual nationally-held hike!

We’ll have three different routes to chose from: a Naturalist-guided 2-mile family-friendly hike, a moderate hike on Vista trail for those aged 8 and up, or the 5.25 to 6.5-mile trek to Bald Mountain, which includes a climb of 1,500 feet and features fantastic 360-degree views of Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley, and San Francisco. The final routes will be determined the day-of by trail conditions.

Wear appropriate footwear for muddy or slippery trails and warm layers (it could be cold or windy up here!). Bring water, snacks, sun protection, and if heading to the summit, pack a lunch. Bring a reusable drink container for your little one to enjoy free hot cocoa post-hike.

These hikes are free and RSVP is not required. Meet outside the Visitor Center. Be prepared for inclement weather but heavy rains cancel. Parking fees apply.


Sugarloaf Nature Photography and Community Science Through iNaturalist

November 18, 2021

Winter in Sugarloaf offers many different colors, shapes, textures, and lighting: great for practicing nature photography.
California Naturalist John Lynch leads this 3.5 mile, 3-hour hike from the Creekside Nature Trail to Hillside Trail and back through the meadow using our cameras as tools to engage in the aesthetic appreciation of nature while also documenting flora and fauna through iNaturalist.

If you haven’t used iNaturalist, or haven’t made an observation for a while, this is your chance – just make sure to load the iNaturalist app on your phone before you arrive and have your battery fully charged.

We will meet outside the Visitor Center. Heavy rain cancels, parking fees apply.

Day off for Independence Day

Public holiday

Day off for Independence Day

Public holiday

Christmas Eve

Public holiday


November 6, 2021

More than a dozen amphibians find refuge in the Mayacamas Mountains. Join biologist Dr. Dan Levitis in visiting with them. This will be a moderate hike with some uphill and lots of stops. Bring cameras if you have them, and good shoes for rocky, wet, or uneven trails. Tickets  are $10 for adults, $5 for Sugarloaf members and docents, free for minors. Meet at the Visitor Center. Heavy rains cancel; parking fees apply.