I grew up a few miles from the Santa Rosa Plateau, so it feels like home hiking here. Nowadays there are volunteers protecting the area (so we have to leave our rain boots at home… no haphazardly trudging through the protected vernal pools like it is the early 1980s). Some time has passed since we have hiked the vernal pool trail. The area closed in 2019, after the Tenaja Fire torched 1,700 out of 10,000 acres owned by the Nature Conservancy. The west side of the Santa Rosa Plateau just recently opened back up to hikers, weekends only, from 8:00- 2:00.
Let us show you around.
The boardwalk (which was not built until after W2K), is a much better vantage point for properly observing copepods and fairy shrimp. Especially since vernal pool fairy shrimp are endangered, and this is the only place on earth where this species of fairy shrimp exist. (For the record, I did not know this when I was knee deep in the vernal pools as a child.)
Just a mile from the boardwalk are California historical landmarks, two adobes from the 1800s. The interior is still closed to the public, but there is plenty to see poking around the outside. We weren’t the only ones with this idea, we found a happy little skunk doing the same.