Our dog Jake has many jobs but one of his major occupations is to keep us walking. Even though Jake has almost six acres to run around on, nothing excites him more than when we bring out his leash and take him for a walk. At least once a week, we try to take a different walk and love it when we have an opportunity to find something new.
On Saturday and Sunday last weekend, we took our first walks along the new Laguna de Santa Rosa trail. Laguna de Santa Rosa is the largest freshwater wetlands complex on the northern California coast, and we can thank its collection of marshes, creeks, ponds, riparian forests and wetlands for collecting much of the Russian River’s floodwaters. We’d tried to walk the new trail a week ago, but the holiday rains had it underwater. Now that the waters have receded, we were amazed at what a beautiful and diverse area the Laguna is.
We came across a heron rookery where a multitude of birds were nesting in huge oak trees above one of the many creeks and waterways that run through the Laguna. The wetlands complex is the most biologically diverse region in Sonoma County (the second-most biologically diverse county in the state), and it is home or rest stop to everything from bald eagles to mountain lions and endangered salmon to river otters. We saw ducks, geese and heron fishing in one of the established ponds; it is not unusual to see wild turkey roaming about in the drier areas.
On this cool winter day, the largest population was pedestrians enjoying both the unpaved path through the riparian forest (forest that helps to control sediment runoff next to a body of water) and the drier crushed-stone path, many with dogs in tow. With a parking area and trailhead on either end of the 1.8-mile trail, an out-and-back walk from one end to the other gave us the workout we needed and interesting new sights and smells for Jake.
I’ve always thought that being close to the Laguna without being in the flood plain provided us with a high water table and beautiful crystal-clear water from our well. This weekend, we were able to discover the many other benefits of the Laguna that reach far beyond our little slice of heaven.
If you would like to see more pictures of the beautiful Laguna de Santa Rosa, check out our Facebook page.