A Guide to Petaluma Parks
A park can be a place to reconnect with nature on a hike, learn about history, play and picnic with the family, or let your dog get some exercise…and sometimes all of the above!
Petaluma’s parks offer plenty of playful possibilities so which one you choose just depends on what activity you’re looking for. Here are some of the most popular ways to enjoy a Petaluma park. And just a reminder, relaxing on a bench and taking in some beautiful Sonoma County scenery is always a good option.
Central to the Petaluma wetlands is Shollenberger Park, a serene haven for bird watchers yet it is only two miles from downtown. More than 200 species of birds and 100 species of plants have been identified on the 500 acre wetland area. Be sure to take your binoculars because during the active season from April to July, more than 60 nests of Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Great Blue Heron can be seen.
From October through June, the Petaluma Wetlands Alliance offers free nature and bird walks on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Visit the PWA website for additional details; rain cancels.
Tolay Lake Regional Park in the hills southeast of Petaluma, is the largest in the regional parks system. The freshwater lake, grasslands, and wetlands provide protected habitats for many species of birds including the burrowing owl and golden eagle. The park is open daily and offers trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding and is the site of the annual Tolay Fall Festival each October.
Petaluma Dog Friendly Parks
Need some wide open spaces where you and your best friend can spend some quality time with a tennis ball? Many of Petaluma’s City Parks allow dogs off leash during specified hours. Dogs on leash are welcome at Helen Putnam Regional Park and Tolay Lake Regional Park.
There are also two dog parks that where licensed dogs can be off leash, all day, every day. Rocky Memorial Dog Park is almost nine acres (partially fenced) of romping, chasing, and socializing fun. And conveniently located Deer Creek Village Dog Park at the Deer Creek Shopping Center is 1.5 acres, fenced, with comfortable benches and drinking fountains for dogs and owners.
Petaluma Hiking Trails
Helen Putnam Regional Park is located within the rolling hills just southwest of Petaluma and offers 6 miles of trails, with ridge-top trails offering panoramic views of the county. Helen Putnam is a favorite of local hikers because the looped trail system makes it possible to create hikes of varying length and difficulty. The trails are also open to cyclists and horseback riders.
The expansive Tolay Lake Regional Park has 8.6 miles of trails including a popular five mile trail that ends at a vista point with views of the entire San Pablo Bay. A day use permit is required; complete the online orientation and application to receive the free permit.
Located less than five minutes from downtown, Shollenberger Park is one of Petaluma’s natural treasures. The 165-acre wetlands park offers family-friendly 1.5 and 2 mile flat trails near a variety of habitats ranging from tidal salt marshes to freshwater marshes.
Cycling and Horseback Riding too!
The scenic trails at Helen Putnam Regional Park and Tolay Lake Regional Park are also open to cyclists and equestrians. Tolay is open on weekends through a day use permit program. Riders may encounter livestock on the trails.
Both regional parks, Helen Putnam and Tolay Lake, have fishing ponds.
A Park for History Lovers
Step back in time to one of the largest and most prosperous private ranchos in Mexican Northern California, Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park. The two-story Petaluma Adobe is all that remains of Commandant General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo’s 66,000-acre Rancho de Petaluma. One of the oldest preserved buildings in Northern California, the Adobe offers visitors a chance to learn what life was like on the working ranch in 1836. Open daily from 10am-5pm, it’s the perfect family outing.
Petaluma City Parks
Petaluma is a community that takes its recreation seriously. There are almost 50 parks within the city. So whether you’re looking for tennis courts, pickleball, a skate park or just a safe, fun play area for the kids, Petaluma has a park that will get everyone up and moving.