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Petaluma Parks: Eastside walking trail between two little-known parks

THE PARKS OF PETALUMA

This is part 16 of a multi-part series, taking an in-depth look at the parks and park-related facility in the town of Petaluma. By order of the county, all parks, large and small, are currently closed to the public for the duration of the health crisis, but we will continue to find ways to describe and explore our community’s relationship with its parks. You can reach David Templeton at david.templeton@arguscourier.com.

There appear to be no eagles in Eagle Park.

At any rate, there are none this morning, though a couple of raucous ravens definitely are present - and they clearly do not care who knows it. Perched 100 feet apart in separate but equally-towering trees, the boisterous birds are booming out a lively ornithological conversation, the pair’s cacophonous calls echoing loudly along the empty streets of this quietly quarantining neighborhood. After 20-minutes or so, the ravens take flight, at least one of them soaring south toward E. Washington Street.

Eagle Park, momentarily quiet now, is a pleasantly grassy, 3-acre example of graceful, park-design simplicity just east of Sonoma Mountain Parkway. It is named for one of the three streets that run along its semi-rectangular perimeter - the others being Almanor and Pembridge streets. The entire park is framed with short, squared wooden pylons at the edge of the surrounding sidewalk, at the lawns edge. Except for a short cement walkway on Pembridge leading to the sand-floored playground - currently cordoned off and restricted, due to COVID-related park closures - Eagle Park is almost entirely grass, with some patches of earth beneath tall trees, and a handful of shade-covered picnic tables, also currently off-limits.

While many residents living in the immediate area are well aware of Eagle Park, there are plenty of locals, even some who reside close by, who’ve only discovered it recently, and mostly by accident, while taking walks through previously unexplored, walking-distance parts of Petaluma. This, of course, is in response to many residents’ traditional walking and hiking paths being closed in late March. With folks pulling up maps online to see what alternative walking cycling routes there are, paved, multi-use trails on both sides of town are seeing new users, as folks makes discoveries they’d never have been motivated to find pre-COVID-19.

As it so happens, Eagle Park stands at one end of a stretch of paved walkways and sidewalks that extends to Fox Hollow Park, approximately one mile away, on foot, with Prince Park just a short hop, skip and a jump beyond that. The same paved walkway leads in the opposite direction, skirting Rainier School and Petaluma Campus of Santa Rosa Junior College, with a tangent dropping down to the large Leghorn Park on Sonoma Mountain Parkway - abutting Leghorn Marketplace, the shopping area where Pongo’s, Starbucks and Safeway are - and finally ending at the playing field of Kenilworth Junior High School.

As one walks the path, open views of farms and pasture stretch to the east, with a series of circular streets - Matzen Ranch Circle, Campus Circle - to the west. On a recent Wednesday morning, there were several folks out for walks, jogs and explorations, some clearly stretching their knowledge of Petaluma’s crosstown corridors for the first time.

One masked, couple, practicing social-distancing while stopping to ask for directions, proudly announced they’d started on North Petaluma Boulevard, and had taken Lynch Creek Trail to its end at Sonoma Mountain Parkway, then crossed the street to the wide, multi-use path that runs up toward Fox Hollow Park. Curious what lay beyond, they were delighted to learn about Eagle Park, and spontaneously decided to walk there before turning around to head back where they started.

Fox Hollow Park, another small neighborhood gem, is 3.9 acres of mostly unlandscaped short hills and fields currently exploding with mustard flowers. There is a concrete-paved path meandering from its starting point at Sonoma Mountain Parkway - right near Lynch Creek - to the manicured park and lawns of the playground (closed up tight and wrapped in emergency tape from the swings to the monkey bars) on Windmill Lane.

So, are there foxes in Fox Hollow?

We’ll leave that to locals to answer, but one thing is for sure.

On this particular day, there are two ravens here, arguing from two trees, one near the playground and the other across the street. Are they the same ones that were recently heard a mile away at Eagle Park?

Only the ravens know the answer to that.

THE PARKS OF PETALUMA

This is part 16 of a multi-part series, taking an in-depth look at the parks and park-related facility in the town of Petaluma. By order of the county, all parks, large and small, are currently closed to the public for the duration of the health crisis, but we will continue to find ways to describe and explore our community’s relationship with its parks. You can reach David Templeton at david.templeton@arguscourier.com.

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