Crane Creek Regional Park,
Sonoma County Regional Parks,
Sonoma County
In brief:
1.1 mile loop through a very scenic small park featuring a creek and lots of old oaks.

Distance, category, and difficulty
:
This 1.1 mile loop hike is very easy. Trailhead elevation is about 340 feet. The park's highest point is about 470 feet, and the lowest is around 260. This is a good destination for beginning hikers.

Exposure:
Almost completely exposed.

Trail traffic:
Light.

Trail surfaces:
Dirt trails.

Hiking time:
Under 1 hour.

Season:
Nice year round.

Getting there:
From US 101 in Sonoma County, exit Rohnert Park Expressway. Drive southeast on Rohnert Park Expressway about 2.5 miles, at which point Rohnert Park Expressway ends at Petaluma Hill Road. Turn right on Petaluma Hill Road, and drive south about 1.2 miles, then turn left onto Roberts Road (there's a brown "parks" sign at this intersection). Drive about 1.2 miles on Roberts Road, and where Roberts Road ends (Lichau Road makes a sharp turn right), continue straight, now on Pressley Road. Continue on Pressley about 0.5 mile, then turn left into the parking lot.

Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
http://www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/68

GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
Latitude 3820'39.16"N
Longitude
12238'40.37"W
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)

Gas, food, and lodging:
Gas, pay phones, stores, and restaurants back in Rohnert Park, near US 101. No camping.

Trailhead details:
Large paved parking lot. $7 parking fee (no parking along the road outside the gate) via self registration. There are 2 designated handicapped parking spots, and the trails are wheelchair accessible. You'll find pit toilets, a map under glass at the trailhead, and paper maps to take with you. No drinking water. There is no direct public transportation to this park.

Rules:
Dogs are allowed on this hike: they are permitted on leash in the park. Park is open from sunrise to sunset. Some trails are signed hiking only, while others are multi-use.

The Official Story:
Sonoma County's Crane Creek page
Sonoma County's Regional Park office 707-565-2041

Map/book choices:
Map from Sonoma County Parks (download pdf)
• This hike is described and mapped in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco (1st edition), by Jane Huber (yup, that's me, the creator of this website). Order this book from Amazon.com.
• North Bay Trails, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a good map and park descriptions.

Crane Creek in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.

View photos from this hike.



Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page



When I have my next "Calgon take me away" moment, I believe I'll visualize an afternoon at Crane Creek. TrailheadI will close my eyes and feel a soft breeze floating across the green hillsides, smell the blossoms on buckeye trees, and hear the murmur of a stream. And then once I find the prefect spot under a sprawling valley oak, I'll stretch out for a snooze, with the sound of hawk cries punctuating my dreams. Ah, yes, Crane Creek is a soothing place. Although the park is only comprised of 128 acres, its diverse habitats and close proximity to civilization make it a fantastic destination, particularly in spring, when the grassland is lush, fresh oak leaves bust from their buds, and wildflowers are abundant.
     There are only a handful of short trails, and all of them are gentle. View from Fiddleneck TrailYou could combine a trip to Crane Creek with a day-long Sonoma County wildflower excursion, but unless you veg out somewhere along the trail, you'll exhaust the park in an hour or so. Many runners and daily walkers from nearby Rohnert Park are regulars at Crane Creek. The park gets busy around lunch time on sunny warm days, and from sunrise to sunset you'll likely see folks walking their dogs. Almost every trail is nearly level, and Creek Trail and Lupine Trail are signed as wheelchair accessible.
     Start at the information signboard to the left of the pit toilets, at the edge of the parking lot. Begin walking on Fiddleneck Trail, open to hikers, cyclists, and equestrians. After only about 310 feet, Fiddleneck reaches a junction with Overlook Loop Trail. Bear right to remain on Fiddleneck Trail. Fiddleneck TrailA low hill to the left partially screens views west to Rohnert Park. Suncups and buttercups are common, sprinkled through the grassland in late winter. The nearly flat trail meets Hawk Ridge Trail at a signed junction at 0.20 mile. Continue straight on Fiddleneck Trail. After a short easy descent, Fiddleneck Trail crosses an oak-lined creek where you might see swaths of buttercups and milkmaids in late winter. At 0.42 mile, you'll reach a signed junction, with Poppy Trail heading to the right. Continue straight on Fiddleneck Trail, which almost immediately drifts left at an unsigned junction with Lupine Trail. Bear right onto Lupine Trail.
     Some buttercups and California poppies were in bloom, but I was too early, in March, for the wildflower peak, which is said to include fiddlenecks, popcorn flowers, and lupine. Two huge valley oaks gracefully sprawl on the left side of the hiking-only trail, which keeps a level pace as it bisects a small flat meadow. At 0.55 mile, you'll cross through a fenceline and reach a junction. Turn right onto Creek Trail.Crane Creek
     The narrow trail, closed to equestrians and cyclists, makes its way through the length of the oak-dotted meadow, not far from Crane Creek. Look for a little path to the left that leads the stream, which is particularly gorgeous and melodious after a winter storm. At 0.71 mile, Creek Trail meets Lupine Trail again. In March, there were clusters of shooting stars and saxifrage on the right. Veer left and remain on Creek Trail.
     Snowberry and poison oak flourish in the understory, beneath oaks, California bays, and buckeye. Creek Trail sustains an almost flat grade. At 0.84 mile, Creek Trail meets Buckeye Trail at a signed junction. (Dead-end Buckeye is an option if you'd like to extend this hike; the trail crosses Crane Creek and climbs to the park's highest point.) Turn right and continue on Creek Trail.Returning toward the trailhead on Creek Trail
     Creek Trail returns to grassland, with mature buckeyes and valley oaks punctuating the landscape here and there. You might catch a glimpse of red-tail hawks in this part of the park. At 0.95 mile, Creek Trail crosses a bridge and meets Poppy Trail at a signed junction. Turn left to continue on Creek Trail.
     Drawing close to Pressley Road, you might see and hear cattle across the road on the adjacent hillsides. At 1.07 miles, Creek Trail passes a few picnic tables, then ends back at the trailhead.

Total distance: 1.07 miles
Last hiked: Monday, October 4, 2004