The view north–the fairgrounds and Memorial Hospital
Taylor Mountain Park’s debutante party was February 23, 2013. On Saturday, I went to check out the county’s newest regional park.
Taylor Mountain is at the southeast border of Santa Rosa. I’ve watched the mountain change colors with the seasons since I was a little girl, and I never knew it had a name. For locals, turn onto Kawana Springs Road and head east. You will have to take Franz Kafka Road to Kawana Terrace, and then turn right up the hill into the parking lot.
It would be a lot easier to make fun of this guy and his tablet if I weren’t writing a blog right now.
The Taylor Mountain acquisition was a partnership of Regional Parks, Land-paths and the Preservation and Open Space Commission. I think preservation is the primary goal here; the property is still being used as grazing land. According to the county website, there are big plans for adding recreational amenities this park, but right now it’s for hiking, mountain-biking, horseback riding and taking pictures of the awe-inspiring views you get from higher up on the trails. The views are the jewel in this park’s crown.
This is the top of the hill; I didn’t make it this far.
Wa-a-ay back there, obscured by clouds, is Mt. St. Helena
Cows? Why, Yes, There Are:
I walked about two-thirds of the way up the Westside Trail, which goes to the top of the hill (I didn’t). As I was walking back down two men with a cocker spaniel came up the trail toward me.
Man One: Who do you think mows all this grass?
Man Two: Cows. (Considering what we were stepping over and around, this was an astute answer.)
Man One: No! How many cows would it take to keep down all this grass?
Man Two: Not many.
Well, they were going to get to check out how many if they kept walking, because most of the cattle were towards the top of the trail, munching greenery and watching the humans with what looked like mild curiosity. Dogs must be leashed in this park, and the cattle are just one reason. The cows we saw looked pretty relaxed.
How many cows does it take… ?
Unlike Ragle Park and Spring Lake, which are mostly flat, the Taylor Mountain trail gains altitude quickly. Except for a place where they’ve put river stones across a small creek, and the mowing and marking of the trail, there are very few improvements here, and the ground was a little rough. I wore my “trail shoes,” walking shoes with the deeper tread, and I’m glad I did. And yes, you do need to dodge cow flop; it’s part of the experience.
My primary reason for visiting was photography, but I definitely got a workout. I’d rate this a moderate hike. Coming back down gave my quadriceps as much exercise as a bracing game of handball. I carried a daypack because I had camera paraphernalia, but at the very least, bring sun-block and a water bottle.
Birds, Not So Much:
This should be a great park for birds. On Saturday it was crowded with people (40 cars in the parking lot when I got there) and I was late enough in the afternoon that most birds had moved back into the trees. I saw crows, robins and grossbeaks; I heard chickadees and a pair of scrub jays. This should be paradise for raptors but I didn’t see a single one.
Most of the improvements are planned for the lower flank of the hill; there are plans to create more trails. Currently the Eastside and Westside trail combined make up about four miles worth. It’s a great way to get some exercise; plan for a clear or only-slightly-cloudy day to take advantage of the height. For more information, contact Regional Parks.