For a lovely nature outing with your pooch in southern Petaluma, hit the trail in Shollenberger Park! This easy, 2-mile path circles the 165-acre site atop a levee, passing dredge ponds and overlooking the wetlands. About a third of the trail is paved, making it wheelchair- and stroller-friendly, while the rest is gravel, which stays mud-free even after rain.
Shollenberger Park was originally a dredge spoils site where river mud and water were dumped during periodic dredging of the Petaluma River. It was declared a city park in 1995, opened to the public the following year, and has since been a pawpular spot for dog walking, birdwatching, nature study, wildlife photography, and jogging.
Enjoy tranquil views of open fields, tidal marshes, and dredge ponds as you and Fido hike along the path. Since the park is home to various species of shorebirds and migrating waterfowl, you'll most likely see white pelicans, swans, and ducks paddling in the ponds or hanging out at the marsh. While many of the birds can be spotted with the naked eye, binoculars are helpful if you want to take a closer look. As you and your pup approach the Petaluma River, you'll be able to see boats floating up and down the water. Walk out to the observation pier to get a better view of the river.
To help visitors know more about the history and ecology of Shollenberger Park, interpretive guides and bird lists are provided at the trailhead and several informative panels can be found along the loop. If you and Fido are up for a longer hike, you can continue on to the connecting trails that lead through Alman Marsh and to the Ellis Creek Treatment Plant. Be sure to keep your furry pal on a leash at all times and pick up after them, so that everyone can have a pawsitive time in Shollenberger Park!
Check your pup for ticks after your hike. Also, watch out for foxtails!