West County Trail reaches downtown Forestville

Press release, Sonoma County Parks, March 20, 2021

bikes on trail

Bikers on the newly completed extension of West County Trail into Forestville. (Courtesy of Sonoma County Parks)

Sonoma County Regional Parks has completed and opened an extension to the regional West County Trail in downtown Forestville, greatly improving public access and safety, and officially linking the community to Graton, Sebastopol and Santa Rosa via a paved non-motorized, multi-use path.

The new 0.2-mile extension closes the former gap between the West County Trail’s northern terminus at Pajaro Lane and Main Street Forestville along Highway 116. Part of the new trail – an 8-foot-wide, 200-foot-long, raised boardwalk – improves access for bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrians across the area’s natural wetlands during seasonal flooding.

“This is a great example of what can happen when we work with partners and neighbors to find solutions,” said Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Lynda Hopkins, whose Fifth District encompasses the town of Forestville. “This investment in the community improves safety for walkers, bicyclists and families, expands non-motorized access to local businesses, parks and schools, and creates a wonderful starting point for outdoor recreation amid the beautiful scenery of the West County Trail.”

The West County Trail, part of a 13-mile, regional trail network that connects the communities of Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Graton and Forestville, is identified as a priority project in Sonoma County’s 2010 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which guides bicycle and pedestrian transportation projects in the unincorporated areas. To date, Regional Parks has constructed 5.5 miles of the West County Trail, most of it along the former Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad right of way. The Forestville section of the trail, completed in 2000, ended at Pajaro Lane, a residential street, without a direct connection to downtown and Highway 116.

Funding sources for this $750,000 trail extension include Park Mitigation Fees, a federal transportation grant, and local Traffic Mitigation Fees. The land acquisition was made possible through partnership with the Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works Department, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Sonoma Ag + Open Space) and the Forestville Planning Association.

In 2013, the nonprofit Forestville Planning Association received a $400,500 grant from Sonoma Ag + Open Space’s Matching Grant Program for the acquisition of approximately 8 acres in downtown Forestville that will be developed into a community town square.

In return, the Forestville Planning Association offered a public access trail easement on their property, thereby allowing Regional Parks to finally complete the trail connection between Pajaro Lane and Highway 116.

“Construction of a trail extension to Highway 116, completing the West County Trail, has been decades in the making,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker. “As a means for safely commuting to and from work or finding mental and physical wellbeing in the outdoors close to home, this trail network has only taken on more significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful for the leadership of Supervisor Hopkins and our partners in making this community addition become a reality.”

“With the completion of this new boardwalk, people are loving how easy it is now to have direct access to the West County Trail from downtown Forestville,” said Lucy Hardcastle, Forestville Planning Association Board President. “This important project means we’re one step closer to making the downtown “oaks park” into an official community gathering spot and formal trailhead for the West County Trail.”

The West County Trail extension begins near the intersection of Mirabel Road and Front Street (Hwy 116) in Forestville. Find more information about the West County Trail at parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Visit/West-County-Regional-Trail.