Outdoor Fun in Sonoma County’s Russian River and Redwoods Area – SF Chronicle
Discover the natural wonders of Sonoma County, just an hour north of San Francisco, where travelers have enjoyed outdoor adventures for more than a century — from the first visitors arriving by train in the 1870s, to crowds dancing under the stars to Big Band sounds in the 1940s and 50s, to the LGBTQ community that claimed this area as their playground from the 1970s on.
It’s an outdoor paradise, perfect for hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, camping, horseback riding and even zipping through the treetops. Blend in fine wines, farm-to-fork cuisine, craft beers, artisan spirits, and all that the wine country lifestyle has to offer and Sonoma County’s river and redwoods make a perfect getaway destination, and a great addition to your visit to San Francisco.
On the Russian River
Known locally just as “The River,” this lazy, winding waterway offers something for almost everyone.
Paddle down an isolated, wildlife-abundant section of the upper Russian River, then dine on culinary delights on the Gourmet Brunch Tour from River’s Edge Kayak & Canoe Trips. Learn how to paddle board and then take a two-hour trip on verdant waters near Wohler Bridge with Rubicon Adventures. For do-it-yourself-ers, Russian River Adventures offers self-guided day trips in inflatable kayaks for a half day (four miles) or full day (nine miles) with a shuttle to return you to your car. Or enjoy a 10-mile, self-guided canoe or kayak trip with a return shuttle at Burke’s Canoe Trips and Campground. Check the complete listing for Sonoma County Kayaking & Canoeing.
River beaches beckon to those who want to picnic, swim, fish or just relax. The county operates several riverfront parks, including Healdsburg Veterans Memorial Beach, Riverfront Regional Park, Mom’s Beach (aka Forestville River Access), and Steelhead Beach Regional Park, each offering unique settings for accessing the Russian River. Rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboats, beach umbrellas, beach chairs and more at the privately owned, down-home Johnson’s Beach & Resort, which has welcomed summer visitors for nearly a century. And Monte Rio Community Beach offers canoe and kayak rentals, barbecues, a boat launch and a snack bar. For more details, read Best River Beaches and Fishing Spots.
In the Redwoods
Stroll through towering, ancient trees in the serene and majestic Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Or zip through the redwood canopy at Sonoma Canopy Tours for a green, family-friendly and educational high-flying adventure. The course includes seven zip lines (one is more than 800 feet long), two sky bridges, a magnificent spiral staircase and a rappel back to the forest floor.
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