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If you are attracted to the rolling, wine country landscapes and historical architecture of Sonoma Valley, the Sonoma City Trail won't disappoint. Located in the heart of historic Sonoma, just over an hour from downtown San Francisco, the rail-trail passes scenic vineyards, historic mansions, beautiful parks and an old railroad depot museum.
Park your car at Maxwell Farms Regional Park just off State Route 12. After crossing Verona Avenue and taking a right on SR 12, you will pick up the trail about 0.25 mile down the road on your left. This marked western end of the trail, which is heavily used by local commuters, is tucked tastefully between a residential area and small Olsen Park. After about 0.5 mile, the bike path crosses into Sonoma Historical State Park, which features various sites of cultural and historical significance.
As you enter the open expanse of the park, with its lush, sandy green lawns, you'll immediately spot on your left the main attraction of the park: the 1850s home of General Mariano Vallejo, Lachryma Montis. General Vallejo was appointed as the first Commandante General for California by Mexico when it gained independence from Spain. La Casa Grande was one of the finest residences in 19th-century California.
After continuing through Sonoma Historical State Park for 0.5 mile, you enter an area known as Depot Park. On your right are old orange boxcars and an orange train caboose in front of the Depot Park Museum. Housed in the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad Depot, the museum contains many historical artifacts about the Sonoma Valley Railroad Company, which used to operate this line, and also contains documents, maps and photographs of Sonoma's rich cultural past—it's definitely worth a visit. East of the Depot Museum, the trail traverses a lovely section of farmland known as the Patch, where you can enjoy a colorful array of locally grown produce. A half mile past the Depot Museum, the trail ends at 4th Street next to the Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery. If you have time, go past the winery on Fourth Street and take the next right on East Spain Street.
Continue until you reach the beautiful and historic Sonoma Plaza surrounded by stately Sonoma City Hall and numerous shops and restaurants. Parking is available at Sebastiani Vineyard and Winery on 4th Street and Lovall Valley Drive, and you could start your ride from this end of the trail as well.
To reach the western trailhead at Maxwell Farms Regional Park, head north on US 101 toward San Antonio Road. Take the State Route 116 East exit toward Napa/Sonoma and turn left on SR 116 East/Lakeville Highway. Take a left at Frates Road and continue straight onto Adobe Road. Take another left at Stage Gulch Road and then take a slight left at Arnold Drive. Turn right at West Verano Avenue to enter Maxwell Farms Regional Park. The park charges a fee to park.
To access the trailhead from Santa Rosa, take State Route 12 (Sonoma Highway) south for 18 miles and take a right at West Verano Avenue to access the park.
To reach the eastern trailhead at Sebastiani Winery, head north on US 101 toward San Antonio Road. Take the SR 116 East Exit toward Napa/Sonoma and turn left on SR 116 East/Lakeville Highway. Take a left at Frates Road and continue straight onto Abode Road. Take another left at Stage Gulch Road and then take a slight left at Arnold Drive. Turn left at West Watmaugh Road and turn another left on Broadway. Take a right at East Napa Street and a left on East 4th Street, where you'll find the parking lot on the right.
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