Thirty-five miles of hiking trail plus good black bass and bluegill fishing are the highlights of Annadel State Park located on the outskirts of Santa Rosa.

Annandel trail sign with deerlAnglers and hikers alike head Lake Ilsanjo, located in the heart of the park. Bring meal worms to tempt the bluegill to bite, or purple plastic worms for the bass, or simply bring your own picnic and let the fish feed themselves. The lake’s Spanish-sounding name does not date from the days of the ranchos and rancheros, as one might guess; it’s actually a composite formed from the first names of two former landowners, Ilsa and Joe Coney, who built the lake in 1956.

Once part of the 1837 Mexican land grant, Rancho Los Guilicos, the Annadel area was owned by a series of farmers and gentlemen ranchers. Annadel became a state park in 1971.

The park is characterized by a diversity of environments including open meadows and a forest of redwoods and Douglas fir. The trails are popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

One of my favorite hikes in Annadel State Park is the journey to Lake Ilsanjo via Warren Richardson Trail, which winds through a cool forest and crosses an open meadow on the way to the lake. For a fun return trip, loop back on steep, fern- and fir-lined Steve’s S Trail. To Lake Isanjo is 5 miles round trip with 500-foot elevation; circling the lake adds an additional 2 miles. Read more about this hike.

Directions: From Highway 101 in Santa Rosa, exit on Highway 12 (toward Sonoma) and follow it east through town. Turn right on Montgomery Drive, then right again on Channel Drive and follow it a mile into the park. The park office (where you’ll find water, maps for sale) is at the entrance; trailhead parking is a mile farther down the road.