Natural Features


Wildflowers, views of Sonoma Valley and San Pablo Bay, oak grasslands, mixed evergreen forest, meadows.

Take a visual tour of the seasons on the Sonoma Overlook Trail.


Sonoma Valley is a watershed: water flows in and out along a corridor 25 miles long and 8 miles wide, from Hood Mountain to San Pablo Bay. Because life centers around water, it gives us a context for the biology and human life of the valley.

The water starts at Hood Mountain and comes down through Stewart Creek at Bouverie. At the base of streams there is always standing water in low pools. Because it gets hot and dry in the Mediterranean climate, these pools are important in providing water for animals to ddrin and for the fish to live: salmon and freshwater shrimp, for example.

The Valley has had tremendous change over time. It was formed relatively recently and has always been a meeting place. There were three Indian tribes that inhabited the Valley. They set fires every 7 years to manage the overgrowth; because this does not happen now, other problems have arisen. For example, Douglas first are moving in and taking over where oak trees used to be.

The Valley has tremendous ecological diversity:

redwood forest
Douglas fir forest
oak woodlands
oak savannah
wetland habitats

Land Use: Only 14% of the 166 square miles of the Valley land is urbanized, meaning there is not too much pavement, which is good. This helps the watershed not break down. Where there is no pavement, water can seep in to the ground.

29% of land is agriculture (vineyards = 14%)
56% of land is natural cover, including pastureland/wild land
18% is protected watershed


Read about the animals that you can see along the trails.


Please see our Tree Brochure.