We awoke this morning to a gloriously crisp winter day full of sunshine and clear skies; what a disappointment. There was no snow! We were robbed of an historic Petaluma snow day! Following our happenstance trip up Mount Sonoma last weekend we were all geared up and ready to go. The sled was even in the car. After some morning moping we still couldn’t shake the longing for a snow day so we packed up the car and set off in search of sled-able terrain…somewhere.
Our unplanned excursion led us north to where we’d seen a backdrop of snow covered mountains behind Santa Rosa the previous weekend; there had to still be snow in them thar hills. The snowline was higher today but we were still hopeful. Identifying a route over Pine Flat Rd from the Alexander Valley we took the opportunity to stop for lunch at the Jimtown Store. After dining on some of their salacious sandwiches we were informed that a stretch of privately owned road was going to thwart our route plans into Lake County.
We regrouped and headed south on highway 128 to an inconspicuous turnoff at Ida Clayton Road, a one lane bi-directional thread of a road that snaked its way along the Macaymas Mountains underneath the snow-capped glare of Mount Saint Helena. Reaching a shaded part of the road we finally encountered some scattered patches of snow. Excited, we stopped for a brief sled pull through a nearby field before we realized it might, in fact, be someone’s ruggedly maintained driveway. Oops. Moving on we continued down the winding road and came out the other side of the mountain range to beautiful sweeping valley views with snow dusted mountains in the distance. We slowly descended while our three-year old co-pilot nodded off in his car seat; our snow adventure, it seemed, had disappointingly come to an end.
Pondering our next steps from a gas station in Middletown we decided to push on towards Clear Lake via highway 175, planning to cut over to 101 from there and head home. The road passed through acres of vineyards before making a steep swoop up the mountains. Quickly snow started to appear again and it was a goodly amount of snow! By the time we passed through the tiny enclave of Whispering Pines a small bank of snow was accumulating along the road; the roofs, trees, and meadows were covered in a thick layer of white. The local golf course was a tempting snow playground but unlikely.
We pulled off briefly in the town of Cobb (population 1638) while my husband surveyed the map and indentified a nearby state park, the Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest. Bingo! Just a few miles further and we pulled into a bustling area of enthusiastic winter fun; sleds were flying down the slippery hills, people were tromping around in snowshoes, boys were putting there RC vehicles through an all-terrain test, while others lounged on the sidelines and watched all the activity. It was more of a winter wonderland than I could have ever hoped to find, just an hour and half from my home. The copilot opportunely awoke from his nap and we bundled up to the join the fun.
Our son paused to take in all of the crazy sledders screaming downhill, tumbling to a stop at the bottom, before he said “I want to do it!” and marched up the hill. We followed with the sled, captivated by the wonder and excitement of a little person newly experiencing life. It was hard work, walking uphill in the snow, but he persevered to reap the reward of flying free down the hill. He and I rode tandem and as we clumsily scraped and bumped our way down the mountain I relived a piece of childhood all over again. Our sledding was interrupted by some snowman building and snowball throwing, followed by more sledding, until that walk up the hill was getting to be too much for his little legs.
Before leaving we walked around the heliport on the opposite side of the parking lot, a nice wide open area blanketed in snow; my feet sank in up to my ankles. A father and some boys were engaged in a game of snowball throwing. My guys joined the fray and our son delighted in being part of the older boys’ fun. He hurled his share of tiny snowballs until he learned the harsh lesson that while snow is soft an accidental snowball in the face can be awfully hard. That brought an end of almost two hours of winter frivolity.
Stopping back in Cobb we warmed up over some hot chocolate and coffee in the charming Mountain High Coffee and Book Shop, a warm and friendly place that was part coffee shop, part bookstore, part internet café, and part gift shop all wrapped up into one cozy little spot. My husband highly recommends their zucchini bread. We picked up a few snacks and a bottle of Lake County Chardonnay at the Hardester’s market next door before we spotted the Brick Oven Pizza place across the parking lot. It smelled good and was steadily filling with people, tempting us with their Saturday night prime rib special; but the toddler clock was ticking so we loaded up the car and headed home via Calistoga.
Our quest for snow had turned into an enormous success; the scenic drive had circuitously delivered us to the perfect destination for winter fun. There was no traffic, no crowds, no over-priced food, and no three-hour drive; there were just beautiful landscapes, local hospitality, and pure winter enjoyment. I hope the cold weather lasts long enough for us to enjoy another snow day in Lake County.
6706 Highway 128
Healdsburg, Ca 95448
Serves a delicious menu of creative dishes, emphasizing local ingredients. Make great preserves too! Sell antiques, books, preserves, unique local and international goods.
Mountain High Coffee & Books
Meadow Spring Shopping Center
16295 Hwy 175
Cobb, CA 95461
Offer a full coffee bar, yummy baked goods, breakfast dishes, snacks and light meals. Sells books, gifts, jewelry, local goods. Includes an internet café.
Brick Oven Pizza
Meadow Spring Shopping Center
16295 Hwy 175
Cobb, CA 95461
Create your own pizza or try one of their specialty pizzas. Offer spaghetti and ravioli pasta dishes, a long list of hot sandwiches, and have a Saturday night prime rib special.
Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest
Elevation: 2400-3750 feet
On highway 175, 1.3 miles from intersection of Bottle Rock Road.
**For more winter fun local recommended Elk Mountain and Horse Mountain out of Upper Lake in the Mendocino National Forest. If you have any more info or have tried these snow destinations please share on Backyard Traveler.