This hike covers a large portion of the Santa Rosa Ecological Preserve. Tenajas, an old Adobe home, wildlife, along with wildflowers can all be found on this loop.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Spring — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Family Friendly: This is a fantastic place to introduce kids to natural areas close to home. This area is home to wild animals. Mountain lions and rattlesnakes are found here so keep small children close.
Dogs: No Dogs
Begin at the visitor center and continue along Waterline Rd. At 0.2 miles, you'll come to a junction where you'll take the Granite Loop Trail
to the left. A short distance later, a right will have you following the Vista Grande Trail
. When you cross the footbridge, pay attention because this area holds one of the few spots to find Tenajas along this route.
Once past the bridge, there is a seating area off to the right before heading up the wooden steps cut into the slope. After 0.9 miles, pass Waterline Road
, and head up the hill for 0.7 miles until you reach the end of the Vista Grande Trail
at Monument Hill Rd. Turn left and follow the road for 0.2 miles to the Punta Mesa Trailhead at the bottom of the road.
Turn right and follow this trail along the outer boundary of the Santa Rosa Plateau for 1.9 miles. This section is shaded and offers a bit of comfort after the 3 miles you just did. You'll come to a small ascent which takes you to the Adobe Loop Trail
to the right. Follow this leg down through another shaded area for 0.6 miles where again you'll find another set of Tenajas along the hike. Poison Oak is abundant in this area so use caution.
When you come out of the trees, turn left at the junction and head 0.6 miles over to the Adobe home. This is a great place to stop for a rest and lunch if you planned for it, or just a quick bite, or a rest. Head back the direction you came on the Lomas Trail
up to the Monument Hill Rd. junction.
Turn right and follow this for 0.2 miles until you come to the Lomas Trail
junction once again on the left. Head down the trail for 0.6 miles until you come to Tenaja Truck Trail
. Turn right. This is a road that is virtually flat over 0.9 miles offering a bit of a easier section towards the end of your hike. When you come to the Waterline Rd, turn left and follow this for 1 mile until you come back to the visitor center parking lot.
Consisting of 9000 acres, the Reserve protects unique ecosystems such as Engelmann oak woodlands, riparian wetlands, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, bunchgrass prairie, and vernal pools as well as more than 200 species of native birds and 49 endangered, threatened or rare animal and plant species, including mule deer, mountain lions, badgers, bobcats, western pond turtles, white-tailed kites and fairy shrimp. Of the two species of fairy shrimp that live in the seasonal vernal pools on the Reserve, one is found only here and nowhere else on Earth!