May 8, 2022

I heard a wise bit of philosophy from a friend this week about giving up any bad habits. My friend said that when he decided to quit smoking he told himself, “If I quit smoking I’ll be miserable. But if I don’t quit smoking I’ll be miserable thinking about how I need to quit smoking. Either way I’ll be miserable, so why not go with the healthy option?” That’s how he managed to quit.

I did a bit more exploration this week when it comes to my eternal quest: finding new places to mountain bike with a bum knee. I first tried Howarth Park in Santa Rosa which has trails leading into Spring Lake Regional Park and eventually Anandel State Park. Howarth Park is a pretty little free park that is very child-friendly. It’s also a good place for fishing and there’s a paddle-boat concession stand that was not open. Like most lakes that I’m encountering in California these days, no swimming is allowed.

Howarth Park

Unfortunately, the trail that climbed toward Spring Lake had too much of a downhill trajectory, and I thus feared climbing back up with my knee. I ended up driving to Spring Lake instead.

The first thing I encountered when I entered Spring Lake Regional Park (it requires a fee) was the almost empty Spring Lake Swimming Lagoon. The poor thing looked like a puddle! Pre-Covid I have such fond memories of swimming in that lagoon with my granddaughter. The Lagoon was child-safe and yet I was able to take long laps out into the center of the Lagoon myself. We had visited on a holiday weekend and the place was blessedly quiet.

I don’t know if they fill the Lagoon before it opens on Memorial Day, or if its thirsty state is a reflection of the current drought. And with Covid cases rising all over the Bay Area, I’m wondering if the Lagoon will open at all. I searched in vain for any of this information on the internet. And like a lot of cash-strapped parks these days, there were no workers or rangers in sight.

Spring Lake dried up Lagoon

Spring Lake itself was as beautiful as ever, and perfect for ride-arounds on its paved trail. There were also some relatively flat dirt and gravel trails I was able to traverse with my mountain bike and bad knee.

I have Kayaked this lake before and but I wouldn’t recommend it. The shoreline is boring and the one little Island on the lake, which seemed to house an interesting assortment of birds, is cordoned off with yellow “no trespassing” tape. Worst of all, the lake is engulfed with a slimy covering of vegetation which was spurred on by some of the early hot days we’ve had this season. The vegetation is harmless and one can Kayak through it, but overall, it’s not a pleasant experience.

Spring Lake Campground

I tried to bike from Spring Lake to Anandel State Park but encountered some daunting hills again and had to turn back. During happier days before the knee injury, I used to enter Anandel from its northwest entrance. If entering there, be sure to bring cash as there is a State Park fee and it’s self-pay. When hiking from that end, the trails and views are spectacular. A few months ago I had tried to mountain bike those trails, but again, due to the climbs and the state of my knee, I had to pack up and leave almost as soon as I arrived.

There are two trails that lead directly from Spring Lake to Anandel (see below) and preferring the more rustic trail, I started out with the one on the left. This trail leads past some lovely little redwood groves and then climbs high enough to make me turn around and head back. I then tried the gravel trail on the right, where I much sooner than preferred, encountered an insurmountable hill. How I long for a time when this knee is healed!

Rustic and Gravel Roads leading from Spring Lake to Anandel State Park

Spring Lake does have a sweet little campground. The campsites are much closer than I prefer, and like most campgrounds anywhere near the Bay Area, probably filled up in the summer. However, if the Lagoon gets filled and again allows swimming, this campground would probably be a great place to stay, especially with kids. There is not only swimming, there are excellent hiking trails, and mountain bikes are allowed.

Spring Lake Campground

I have discovered all of the parks creek trails in Sonoma County now that allow bikes. I must say, especially in light of my current knee injury, Spring Lake Regional Park is my favorite place to bike. It offers enough level surface for me to bike long distances, and more than that, it offers a wide range of beautiful scenery.

Published by susancasslangmailcom

Susan Casslan is a writer and a nurse. Her writing touches on spirituality and issues pertaining to social justice. Casslan lived for a decade in the San Francisco Inner Mission District, and she was greatly inspired by the Latinx culture of that neighborhood. The Inner Mission emerges in her books Conversations with Richard Purcell: The Adventures and Reflections of a Renegade San Francisco Priest and That Which Wavers with the Night, as well as in her chapbook 24th Street and Other Poems. Additionally, Casslan’s nonfiction articles have appeared in El Tecolote, an Inner Mission newspaper.

%d bloggers like this: