The Natural Wonders of the Laguna de Santa Rosa

Left Coast Travel, Musings, Nature, Photography

My annual road trip to California always takes me back to Sonoma County. Having lived there for many years, it still feels like home every time I visit. The area has grown quite a bit, since we left more than twelve years ago. I still know my way around, visit my favorite local book stores and farmers markets, have dinner and some of the very best freshly squeezed, homemade lemonade at East West Cafe and most importantly, I get to hang out with our friends and reconnect!
During my visit, my Christine called and asked if I would like to go check out the Laguna de Santa Rosa, the largest freshwater wetlands complex in coastal Northern California. It covers a vast area of around 30,000 acres. This unique combination of open grassland and meadows, oak forests, creeks and lagoons houses an amazing number of birds, plants, amphibians, and mammals, as well as serving as a rest stop during migration. It is also home to a number of endangered species.

The part of the Laguna we visited is bordered by Highway 12 to the south, Occidental Road to its north; right in between the cities of Sebastopol and Santa Rosa.
When we arrived Saturday morning, very few people were there. The sky was cloudy and overcast, the air still and the parched grasslands seemed to stretch all the way across the horizon.


As we meandered along the trail, we encountered a brilliantly colored western bluebird, sitting on a perch in a meadow. Above, in the sky, a white-shouldered kite was circling the grassy area. Every few moments, the kite would stop and hover in place, looking for signs of some prey down below.


Gnarly old oak trees, decorated by nature with oak galls and bright red poison oak, were lining some of the hiking trails. The galls are caused by a type of parasitic wasp depositing their eggs on branches and leaves (reddish little cones), and generally don’t harm the trees or people. The poison oak however is a different story. Coming into contact with it can produce a severe itchy rash. So be careful on your hikes!

By the time the sun came out, we were in the oak woodlands. The cool shade felt nice. Following a small deer trail, we discovered a perfect spot, where trees, wispy white clouds and floating branches and leaves, made for a fantastic photo opportunity!

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Wildflowers are tough! Here it was, the end of July. Hot and dry, yet these beauties were flowering all across the preserve. We saw chicory, wild roses, Queen Anne’s Lace, pennyroyal and lots of tiny pale blossoms hugging the ground. Fat, juicy blackberries were just beginning to ripen.


Some hikers enjoy bringing along their dogs. Yet, despite some friendly reminders and a generous supply of “doggie bags”, many visitors seem to think, they are exempt from cleaning up after their pet! We encountered quite a few land mines, many of them, right smack in the middle of the hiking trails. We also noticed, empty soda cans, candy wrappers and other litter tossed alongside the trails. That was extremely disappointing!
This beautiful ecological treasure should be, well, treasured!

If you have a chance to visit this area, be sure to make a little time for this natural wonder. I plan on returning to the Laguna, and hopefully Christine will come along! This outing was one of the highlights of my California trip!



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My passions in life are vegetarian cooking, gardening, photography, writing, good books, traveling and nature. Thanks for stopping by, Sabine

15 thoughts on “The Natural Wonders of the Laguna de Santa Rosa”

  1. Glad you had such a lovely day trip in California. I’m surprised there were so many blooms in the midst of the drought. And you reminded me of one of my biggest peeves, owners of dogs that treat them to children but won’t clean up after their children. But I’ll spare you my rant. Welcome home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. christine says:

    So many beautiful pics. I will go back in each season and send you photos so you can see how it changes… if it rains a lot, all that area will be under water… time to get out the kayak!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know you have a kayak! It’s on my “would like to explore” list! I loved the outing with you, and hopefully I can adjust my next trip to see the Laguna in the spring.


    • Thank you Marlene! I was in the perfect place at the perfect time. Plus I was there with Christine, who happens to like stopping and looking at things and also takes photos. That makes for a fun outing, because I don’t feel rushed and that I am holding someone up. 😉 I am looking forward to Wednesday!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: California Road Trip 2018 … Tales of Gravensteins, the West County and a Political Babe | in cahoots with muddy boots

  4. Pingback: California Road Trip 2019 … The Laguna de Santa Rosa Revisited! | in cahoots with muddy boots

  5. Your pictures have captured the area so well that we feel like we took the trek right along with you (minus the landmines). Natural beauty is such a joy to see, the colors of the leaves, those perky wildflowers – I can see myself being here and my head swiveling around not sure what to look at first while taking it all in.

    Liked by 1 person

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