10 Ways

Sonoma Ecology Center Makes a Difference in Our Community.
Learn more and join us in protecting what you love about Sonoma Valley.



How is our Valley doing? We monitor, analyse, map, and report on broad measures of ecological health in Sonoma Valley.

Learn More


We provide educational and outdoor programs for thousands of students in Sonoma Valley.

Learn more


We foster and maintain publicly accessible open spaces, including Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve and the Sonoma Overlook Trail.

Learn more


Since 1993, we’ve worked side by side with landowners and volunteers on projects that restore, protect, and improve our natural heritage.

Learn more

Beautiful. Sustainable. Sonoma.

Since 1990, we’ve worked to increase appreciation and stewardship of Sonoma Valley’s natural heritage and create measurable benefits in areas of land, water, climate change and biodiversity.

Upcoming Events

Trail Clearing & Construction Day @ Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
May 25 @ 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Help us keep our trails clear of brush and free of mud and rocks and assiste with construction and maintenance projects such as painting and building repair.  Meet at the White Barn at 9:00.   Tools provided, no experience needed.  And lunch included!
Volunteers like you make the difference at Sugarloaf.
To RSVP and if you have questions email john@sonomaecologycenter.org

Parks Rx – Forest Therapy @ Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
May 27 @ 9:30 am – 12:30 pm

These hikes are part of our Parks Rx program, and free to those with a Rx from their participating Sonoma County Medical Provider.   Or $20 for those without a Park Prescription. Register at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2914032

Forest Therapy, also known as “Shinrin-Yoku,” refers to the practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness. The practice follows the general principle that it is beneficial to spend time bathing in the atmosphere of the forest. The Japanese words translate into English as Forest Bathing. Although we are inspired by the Japanese practice our use of the terms Forest Therapy and Shinrin-Yoku do not mean a specifically Japanese practice. We mean spending time in nature in a way that invites healing interactions. There is a long tradition of this in cultures throughout the world. Its not just about healing people; it includes healing for the forest (or river, or desert, or whatever environment you are in).

There are an infinite number of healing activities that can be incorporated into a walk in a forest or any other natural area. An activity is likely to be healing when it makes room for listening, for quiet and accepting presence, and for inquiry through all eight of the sensory modes we possess.

This view of healing interactions implies some baseline requirements for Shinrin-Yoku and Forest Therapy:
There is a specific intention to connect with nature in a healing way. This requires mindfully moving through the landscape in ways that cultivate presence, opening all the senses, and actively communicating with the land.
It is not something to rush through. Shinrin-Yoku walks are not undertaken with the primary goal of physical exercise. We prefer to avoid the term hiking because of its implications of physical exertion. As taught by the Association, Shinrin-Yoku walks are typically a mile or less and range in duration from two to four hours.
Healing interactions require giving generously of our attention. We encourage mindfulness through an evolving series of suggested invitations. Each invitation is crafted to help participants slow down and open our senses. As we do this we begin to perceive more deeply the nuances of the constant stream of communications rampant in any natural setting. We learn to let the land and its messages penetrate into our minds and hearts more deeply.
Its not a one-time event. Developing a meaningful relationship with nature occurs over time, and is deepened by returning again and again throughout the natural cycles of the seasons. Like yoga, meditation, prayer, working out, and many other worthy endeavors, shinrin-yoku is a practice. And because it is a practice, it is best to learn it from a qualified guide.
Its not just about taking walks in the forest. The walks are important, but there are other core routines that we can do that will help in our deepening relationship with nature, and in the exchange of health benefits between humans and the more- than-human-world. We often incorporate some of these practices in our guided shinrin-yoku walks, particularly the practices of sit spot, place tending, and cross-species communication.
These five elements together provide a framework for the practice of Forest Therapy.

More info on Forest Therapy at http://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/
And on Sonoma County Park Prescription Program at http://www.parkrx-sonomacounty.org/

Register at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2914032

ParkRx – Hiking for Fitness Series
May 28 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Please Join us for an 8-week Hiking for Fitness Program. The program leaders will guide you on a series of weekly hikes with the challenge increasing each week. The group’s final hike will be to the top of Bald Mountain where hikers can enjoy the stunning 360 vistas. Hikes will start at 9 am at either Sugarloaf Ridge State Park or Annadell State Park. The Hiking series costs $80 plus parking or free for hikers with a ParkRx from their Sonoma County Medical Provider. For more information on Park Rx please visit https://parkrx-sonomacounty.org/

Hike Series: 

1) May 7: White Barn to Uranus Sugarloaf. 2.2 Miles, 80 ft elevation
2) May 14: Meadow Hillside Loop.  3 miles, 250 elevation
3) May 21: Stern/Stern Ranch/Pony/Canyon. 3 miles, 500 elevation
4) May 28: Vista Trail Loop.  4.5 miles. 700 ft elevation.
5) June 4: Neptune Picnic Table.  5 miles. 850 ft elevation.
6) June 11: Goodspeed to Bench.  4.2 miles, 1000 ft. elevation.
7) June 18:  Grey Pine/Red Mt.. 5.3 miles.  1200 ft elevation.
8) June 25:  Climb to Bald Mt.  6.2 Miles 1500 ft. elevation.

All hikes will Start at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.  Meet at the white Barn Area. Purchase Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2913956


Memorial Day
May 29 all-day
Memorial Day Family Nature Hike @ Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
May 29 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm

Come to the park for a peaceful hike through the woods, join our Docent’s for this fun family hike that is good for all ages. During this 2.2 miles hike with a 250 foot vertical, you will learn more about Sugarloaf Park and its plants, animals, and history. Weather permitting, the hike will begin and end at the Visitors Center. No RSVP needed, and no charge for the hike. $8 parking fee.

Featured Projects

Click on the image for an interactive map of Sonoma Valley

Visit our partner websites – Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Sonoma Garden Park and Sustainable Sonoma

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park Sustainable SonomaSonoma Garden Park

Support Our Work

Keep In Touch

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow Us!

The Ecology Blog: What’s Happening in Sonoma Valley

How Our Research Helps Sonoma Valley Thrive

How Our Research Helps Sonoma Valley Thrive

When Sonoma County’s Permit and Resource Management Department was tasked with reducing sediment pollution from roads in the Sonoma Creek watershed, they knew that clear, precise data would be essential to getting the job done. Sonoma Ecology Center was able to help....

read more
Today Is Our Favorite Day of the Year

Today Is Our Favorite Day of the Year

It was the end of Earth Day, 1990, when a few local environmentalists gathered together to talk about the day and about Sonoma Valley’s future. This small group – Richard Dale among them – saw that our Valley could use some guidance in dealing with its environmental...

read more
10 Ways SEC Makes a Difference

10 Ways SEC Makes a Difference

Earth Day, April 22, is Sonoma Ecology Center’s de facto birthday. And every spring, as the next Earth Day nears, we always get to thinking about the many ways SEC has improved the wellbeing of our Valley and its residents – and how, with your support, we’ll continue...

read more

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe now to learn about the latest projects, upcoming events and educational opportunities.

Thank you, you have been subscribed to our newsletter.