Hiking to Gunsight Rock on Hood Mountain in Sonoma County, California
Flocks of friendly juncos, pollywog-filled ponds, and chattering chickadees are just a few of the charms that await you on your trek to the summit of Sonoma County's Hood Mountain. It's the highest point between Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and the woodsy trails to the top wind around ponds, cross meadows, and meander past a pygmy forest. Park at Pythian Road, follow the Lower Johnson trail to Orchard Meadow, and continue on to Upper Johnson for the best combination of well-maintained trails, native beauty and a solid workout. The final ascent to the summit is a calf-burner. The sights from here aren't showstopping, but it's a restful spot to refuel before continuing on to the postcard-worthy views at Gunsight Rock. Follow the twisting downhill trail through a manzanita tunnel and past looming rock formations. Clamber (carefully!) to the top of Gunsight Rock for sweeping vistas of the Sonoma Valley all the way to San Pablo Bay. You won't find a vantage point like this anywhere else.
- Megan Cytron (Editor) Congratulations! You won 1st Place Writing and Honorable Mention Photography in the Hiking in Mendocino Contest.