Sportsmens Report
October 19, 2017
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Sportmanís report: Places to visit in the fall

By: Bill Hanson
October 6, 2017
Sturgeonís Mill, Old Bale Mill, Fort Ross, Bay Model, Presidio, fishing ponds, Angel Island and a ferry to SF


Early fall is a time of moderate temperatures (no guarantees), leaves turning color carpet the ground, the musky smells of the ‘crush’ perfumes the air, the calm seas of fall offering a serene setting, (mostly) and a much smaller number or tourists make for a local resident visit a reward for living in Sonoma County.

Here are a few day trips for your family or to take visitors from out of the area. If you really want to do a job of it, take a senior you know to any of these venues. These are all within 90 minutes of home.

First is the Presidio, one of San Francisco’s largest parks. Visitors can park for free and ride the two shuttle routes for free, which stop at dozens of sites and run approximately every twenty minutes. This is an unbelievably easy, inexpensive and memorable way to spend a day. Go to: for details.

In Marin, the Angle Island ferry is a very short ride from the dock in Tiberon, which means “Shark” in Spanish. Once you disembark there are a number of visitor options including a tour bus around the island. There is an excellent museum and unparalleled views of San Francisco Bay and the city itself. They allow bikes on the ferry and the road around there is improved so a safe ride is an important feature for families. One word of caution, for little kids on a Spiderman or Barbie bike, the trail is steep as it winds to the top of the island. Google Angel Island for a link to their web site. Also in Marin is the picturesque Sausalito home to the Bay Model. The Corps of Engineers maintain a working model of the San Francisco Bay. Walking over the model you feel like a giant, the waters are pumped in and out to mimic the tides. You could pick up the Golden Gate Bridge and eat it like so many movie monsters have done. What a great Halloween idea. 

Fort Ross in the fall can be picture perfect, once in the parking area, visitors take a beautiful, short walk along a fragment of the old highway one that once traveled right through the fort. On the walk, you will hear before you see the boisterous seals barking on their wash rock. There are docents to guide you or take the self-guided tour. Importantly children can safely run loose in the block houses at the corners. There are cannons to climb on and very, very impressive views of the Pacific. Google Fort Ross State Park be sure to check the ‘events’ section for trip planning.

We are fortunate to be between two excellent trout farms, the Hagemann Trout Farm is close by on Highway One between Bodega and Bodega Bay. No fishing license, poles, bait or skill is required to have a great time. Your fishermen can catch fish until they are bored or you go broke. Goggle their name for directions, visitor days and times and details. The second is the famous Smiths Trout Farm and Hatchery on the western slope of Mt. St. Helena on twisty, Ida Canyon Road. The ride up and back is worth the 90-minute drive. Google their name for details

Also in Napa Valley is the Bale Grist Mill State Park. This restored mill was and is now a working grist mill. The visitor center is family oriented and kids will have a hoot running around on the park grounds. Google the name for details. This ride is on Highway 29 about one hour or less from home.

The last public viewing of the year will be this month at Sturgeons Mill on October 14 and 15, it is a restored, working museum very close at hand, just a half-hour drive from home. The mill is a must see, the parking is free, admission is free and the steam-up is very interesting. The mill produces lumber and slabs to make that redwood bar you’ve dreamed of which you can purchase. The money helps the non-profit run the mill. Set under fragrant Redwoods the mill and gardens are open for touring just four weekends a year. The picnic area offers a host of food and drink at low prices, although you can bring your own picnic lunch. Google Sturgeons Mill for details.