Hiking trails allow students to enjoy nature

The final weeks of semester are upon us students and the onslaught of final assessment has begun. The stress is mounting. A final paper due next week, two essays and a presentation due two weeks later, then another final paper, and another presentation. Does this sound familiar?

If so, stop, step away from the study desk and take a break in the great outdoors that surround Sonoma State University. 

Adventure Program coordinator at Sonoma State Kevin Soleli finds the outdoors as a source of relaxation and recovery.

“I’ve always enjoyed spending time outside. I always find rest, relaxation and recovery in natural places for myself and my own health,” Soleli said.

Soleli encourages students to avoid getting square eyes and take a step outside to clear their heads.

“[Students] find themselves in a place where they are able to focus on the here and now (when outdoors) and observe their surroundings and be present in the moment. It’s really nice for students to get away from the screens that they stare at all day, get away from the hussle and bussle of homework and get way from all the competing demands on their attention,” Soleli said.

Soleli revealed some of best hiking areas and viewpoints for students to explore around and beyond Sonoma County.

 

Crane Creek Regional Park

Literally three miles from campus, Crane Creek Regional Park is a slice of the great outdoors in our own backyard. 

The park contains various trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding which cater to all ages and fitness levels. The tails weave through rolling grassland meadows scattered with oak and maple trees as well as picnic tables.

“There’s a lot of great picnic tables under the oak trees. It’s a great place to set up a hammock, sit around and have a picnic,” Soleli said.

The summit of the Sunset Trail is a great place to lay down your picnic rug and overlook the scenic views of Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa. The park serves as the perfect escape from campus to refresh after an intense study session.

 

Annadel State Park

About a 20-minute drive from campus, Annadel State Park’s various terrain and great biking trails makes this park a favorite for Soleli. In particular, Soleli enjoys biking through the Marsh Trail.

“As you start getting higher up you start to getting into some nice, tall and shady Redwood stands and you get a little bit further away from all the crowds because it’s higher in the park. It’s really scenic and very beautiful, you can also see out to Bennett Valley, Sugarloaf Ridge and some of those other areas,” Soleli said.

Senior Biology student Morgan Rucks said a must-have after a long hike at Annadel is a Pico Degallo popsicle, an icey blend of pineapple, cucumber, mango and chilli, from Mexican ice-cream shop Fruita on Sunny Point Road.

“If you’re on a bike ride on a hot day, you should go there. [Pico Degallo] is so good and it has a little bit of salt in it; so it’s perfect for when you’re dehydrated,” Rucks said.

 

Bodega Bay

As the weather starts to heat up, why not indulge in a day trip away from Rohnert Park and head to the coast of Bodega Bay. Approximately a mile from Bodega Bay is Doran Beach, it’s Soleli’s pick for a great hike and some rock hopping.  

“Once you walk south of Doran Beach and get onto the rocks there, that’s a really awesome day hike and exploration. At low tide the rocks are exposed and really fun to explore, they (the rocks) are  littered with sea stars and crabs and other small rock pool sea life,” Soleli said.

For the romantics on campus, Rucks suggested a trip to peaceful Schoolhouse Beach, an hour north of Bodega Bay.

“If you want a cheap date, you buy a bottle of wine and an avocado, drive out to Freestone and buy a loaf of bread at Wildflower Bakery, and from there drive out to the coast and walk this whole section (indicated Schoolhouse Beach on a map of the area),” Rucks said.

The Outdoor Resource Center in the Recreation Center on campus is a great place to start planning your next outdoor trip. 

Open 3-7 p.m, Monday to Friday, the center is equipped with maps and books on the best trails and rental outdoor equipment. 

As for mustering the motivation to get out and explore, Rucks says the key is to avoid getting caught up watching too much television.

“Don’t watch TV. You can blow three to four hours watching Netflix. That’s half a day; that’s a hike,” Rucks said.