Hood Mountain

Infobox Mountain
Name = Hood Mountain
Photo = Hoodmtndown.jpg
Caption = Hood Mountain viewed from Sonoma Valley
Elevation = 2,730 feet (832 m)
Location = Sonoma County, California, USA
Range = Mayacamas Mountains
Prominence =
Coordinates = coord|38|27|36|N|122|33|13|W

Type =
Age =
Last eruption =
First ascent =
Easiest route = trail
Listing =
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Hood Mountain is a mountain near the southeastern edge of Santa Rosa, California at the northeast of the Sonoma Valley that attains a height of 2,730 feet (832 meters) above mean sea level. Most of the drainage from Hood Mountain contributes to the headwaters of Sonoma Creek. A prominent feature of Hood Mountain is the extensive rock face visible on the upper half of the mountain as viewed from State Route 12. The habitats on Hood Mountain include mixed oak forest, pygmy forest, chaparral and riparian zones. In prehistoric times the slopes of Hood Mountain were inhabited by a division of the Yuki tribe. Most of Hood Mountain is within the Mount Hood Regional Park maintained by Sonoma County. Hood Mountain is part of the inner coast Mayacamas Range, and lies mostly within Sonoma County, with a part of the mountain geographically within Napa County. Hood Mountain affords overlooks of the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay and "a spectacular view east to the Sierra Nevada Range". [ [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-6925800.html Hiking for Bay Views: San Francisco Bay Area] ]

Area setting

Hood Mountain is most easily accessed via State Route 12, which runs along the bottomland of the Sonoma Valley and connects the town of Sonoma to the city of Santa Rosa. Closest viewing areas of Hood Mountain from the valley floor are from the village of Kenwood, from the intersection of State Route 12 with Pythian Road, and from the community of Oakmont, the easternmost neighborhood of Santa Rosa. From these viewing locations the peak of Hood Mountain, also known as Gunsight Point, is prominent on the Mayacmas ridgeline, along with Mount Baldy, within Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, itself located approximately three miles east.

Hood Mountain is also visible from the floor of the Napa Valley as well as eastern slopes above that valley. From Hood Mountain there are expansive views westerly to Annadel State Park and beyond to Sonoma Mountain. On clear days there are distant views from the peak area of Hood Mountain westerly to the Pacific Ocean and easterly to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Geology and hydrology

The base of Hood Mountain consists of soils of the Goulding-Toomes-Guenoc association, which are well-drained gently to very steep loams and clay-loams situated upon upland formations. The upper reaches of Hood Mountain consist of the Kidd-Forward-Cohasset association, which group ranges from well-drained to excessively drained moderate to very steep gravelly and stony loams. ["Soil Survey, Sonoma County, California", U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, Government Printing Office, Washington DC, May 1972] Specific soil map patches on the upper slopes include Boomer loam on some 15 to 30 percent slopes; Goulding cobbly clay loam on 15 to 30 percent slopes; Henneke gravelly loam on some 5 to 30 percent slopes; Henneke gravelly loam on 30 to 75 percent slopes; and rock land on 15 to 75 percent slopes.

Considering the steepness of much of the terrain there is a remarkable lack of erosion, primarily because human access has been historically low, and vegetative cover has been kept intact. The headwaters of Santa Rosa Creek rise on the northern slopes of Hood Mountain, whereas the central and eastern portions of the mountain contribute to the headwaters of Sonoma Creek which have just risen in the Sugarloaf area. Hood Creek and Graywood Creek, draining portions of Hood Mountain, are smaller tributaries that feed Sonoma Creek. ["Environmental Impact ReportSonoma Country Inn", County of Sonoma Permit and Resource Management Agency, November, 2004] Precipitation amounts to approximately 30 inches (76.2 cm) per annum on Hood Mountain.


There are several distinct habitats ["Ecology of the southern Mayacmas Range", Lumina Technologies, Santa Rosa, Ca., May 11, 2005] in the Hood Mountain area including:
* Mixed oak woodland
* Chaparral
* Pygmy forest
* Riparian zone

In addition there are is a specialized habitat on the upper western face consisting of extensive rock outcrops, which can be considered a variant of the chaparral habitat with small forest pockets.

The mixed oak woodland habitat dominates the lower elevations with Coast live oak, Douglas fir, California Buckeye ("Aesculus californica") and Bigleaf Maple forming the majority of the canopy. The understory is sparse, particularly of the deep ravine areas such as Hood Creek riparian zones. Some Toyon, Poison oak and Hollyleaf cherry are found beneath the canopy. At mid-level elevations there are also considerable numbers of Tanbark oak and Pacific Madrone contributing to the canopy.

Chaparral areas are dominated by several varieties of manzanita, including notably "Arctostaphylos manzanita" 'Hood Mountain'. There is also a considerable abundance of poison oak and coyote brush present in these exposed rocky thin soil habitats. Fire risk is naturally greatest in this ecosystem, and some evidence of fires are seen at an estimated age of twenty years past.

There are sizeable pygmy forest areas on the west facing slopes and more level inner plateaus of Hood Mountain. Here the predominant species are Mendocino cypress ("Cupressus pygmaea"), various "Arctostaphylos" species and coyote brush. The height of the pygmy forest is ten to fifteen feet (3 - 5 m) and these patches of relatively dense thickets extend for about a half to one and a half miles (one to two kilometers) in patch size. The Mendocino cypress is classified as a vulnerable species.

The riparian zones tend to occur in deep heavily forested ravine areas that are highly shaded. These typically steep woodlands have a high percentage of California laurel trees, understory ferns and toyons. Several of the streams such as Sonoma Creek, Hood Creek and Santa Rosa Creek are generally year-round flowing, except for the very highest reaches (e.g. above 2,200 feet (671 m) in absolute elevation). Considerable birdlife occurs in the Hood Mountain environment, but particularly in the riparian zones are scrub jay, woodpecker and junco apparent.

Throughout the Hood Mountain wilderness may be found mountain lion, bobcat and rattlesnakes, the latter preferring west facing sun-exposed rocky slopes.


Trails leading to the summit of Hood Mountain begin at three locations:
*along Adobe Canyon Road within Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, on the southeast side of the mountain
*the end of Pythian Road, on the west side
*the end of Los Alamos Road, on the north side

Trails leading from the first two trailheads involve relatively direct climbs of about 2,000 vertical feet (610 m) to the summit, whereas trails from the Los Alamos Road trailhead take a longer route to the summit but involve about the same vertical rise.

The Goodspeed/Nattkemper Trail, which climbs to the summit from the Adobe Canyon Road trailhead, offers the most direct access to the summit and to Gunsight Rock, from which distant views to the south and west are available. From the Los Alamos Road trailhead, the Hood Mountain Trail descends to and crosses Santa Rosa Creek, then climbs via an easily walked fireroad to the summit, passing through the pygmy forest on the northwest side of the mountain. The Summit Trail branches from the Hood Mountain Trail at about 1,400 feet (427 m) elevation and offers a more rugged hike to the summit. From the Pythian Road trailhead, the Lower and Upper Johnson Ridge trails climb relatively directly to the Hood Mountain Trail and on to the summit. The Pythian Road trailhead also provides good access to the pygmy forest via the Panorama Ranch Trail.

There is no potable water supplied within the Hood Mountain area except at the parking lot at the Pythian Road trailhead. Overnight camping is not permitted, but dogs on leashes are allowed.


External links

* [http://www.sonoma-county.org/parks/pk_hood.htm Sonoma County Regional Parks website -- Hood Mountain page]

ee also

*List of Sonoma County Regional Parks facilities
*List of summits in the San Francisco Bay Area

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