Lake Sonoma was created in 1983 by the construction of the Warm Springs Dam. At capacity, the lake covers 2,700 acres and offers 50 miles of coastline. Managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, over 17,000 acres of lake and surrounding recreation area offer a wide variety of activities, including hiking, mountain bike and horseback riding, boating, camping, fishing and hunting. More than 40 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails meander around the two main arms of the lake, taking in rolling coastal foothills of redwood groves, oak woodlands, mixed forests, grassy slopes and steep hills. The lake features some of the best bass fishing in the state, along with steelhead, trout, catfish and perch. Lake Sonoma has 109 primitive campsites and two group-use campsites that are accessible by boat and/or trail only. One drive-in campground is also available.
The hiking trails range from easy to relatively difficult and many offer beautiful views in return for your efforts. You will see Redwood trees, Douglas firs, oaks and grasslands. Last time we went we spotted wild boar and other wildlife and bird watchers will enjoy a variety of species. Boar hunting (archery and crossbow only) is permitted in designated parts of the recreation area from late November through March. You should always check at the visitor center to determine where hunters might be encountered.
The Visitor Center and Fish Hatchery are located at the park entrance and are open to visitors year round. Here, exhibits tell the story of Warm Springs Dam, explain the natural and early history of Dry Creek Valley, and offer a variety of audio-visual and ranger-led programs. Displays in the visitor center focus on the culture of the Pomo tribe of Native Americans – the original inhabitants of the Dry Creek Valley – and their way of life, with particular emphasis on their excellent basket making skills. Call (707) 431-4533 for additional information.
The Congressman Don Clausen Fish Hatchery is located behind the Visitor Center. Visitors can observe the operation of the hatchery and see displays which describe the life cycle of the coho salmon, steelhead and chinook. The hatchery was built to replace and enhance salmon and steelhead spawning grounds. It is a Corps of Engineers hatchery operated by the California Department of Fish and Game. Tours for large groups may be arranged by calling (707) 431-4533
Enjoy your visit and remember to take plenty of water with you if you are heading out for a hike. Reward yourself with a dip in the lake afterward or bring a picnic and just relax. A nice bottle of Sparkling Rose from www.tastelocalwines.com would be a nice reward.