For those not familiar with the background story of the Lafferty property on Sonoma Mountain, here is a quick summary: The 269 acre property (Lafferty Ranch) on the side of Sonoma Mountain was purchased by the City of Petaluma in 1959 to serve as part of its water system. Access to the property by city employees was never challenged. It wasn’t until recently that adjacent property owners challenged access to the property when it was proposed to turn it into a Wilderness Park for the general public. Some of the details of this dispute, and its possible resolution, are contained in the links at the end of this article.
A recent article in the Press Democrat (link below) about public access to Petaluma’s Lafferty Ranch revived an old longing on my part to see the land and the supposedly grand vistas from the mountain.
The problem, of course, is that the public cannot access the property at present. Unless, of course, one obtains “legal” access with a City Official and a guide. And so it came to pass that I found myself on February 18th in front of the Lafferty Gate–the scene most often published in articles about Lafferty…
The Lafferty Gate
Lafferty “Entrance” Gate
VIEWS FROM LAFFERTY
Moving up from the gate to the first meadow I had to pause to take it all in. While it was partly sunny (in California, that means mostly cloudy) I was able to see the entire Petaluma Valley, the course of the Petaluma River, Mt. Tam, and San Pablo Bay. I could string out a long collection of clichés about the views but instead I will say that I could have stayed there all day watching the light change and playing with the camera toys.
A View From Lafferty
Lafferty Petaluma Valley Vista
VIEWS OF LAFFERTY
The Lafferty landscape is indeed a wilderness in terms of vegetation, wetlands, animals, and streams. Some of the foundation stones of the original Lafferty home are still in place. For the most part, much of the land is the same as it was when California became a state. In many places the only sound (other than my occasional grunting) was the sound of Adobe Creek.
Granted, the area is not as lush as it normally would be at this time of the year because of the drought, but the recent rains did have some positive impact.
Lafferty Middle Meadow
“If you go out in the woods today…”
Photo Gallery (Click to Open)
Adobe Creek Headwaters
In closing, the best evidence as to whether or not I was impressed by my Lafferty experience is that it provided a new header for this blog. Perhaps the opportunity to visit Lafferty will be available to everyone in the not too distant future.
THE LAFFERTY STORY–RELATED LINKS
- Friends of Lafferty Park
- So Close, Yet So Far Away: Historic Lafferty Ranch Still Closed to Public Despite Being Owned by City
- Negotiations over Lafferty Ranch access ongoing
- Wikipedia on Adobe Creek– “Adobe Creek rises on the west flank of Sonoma Mountain. It descends initially to the south, passing west of Petaluma Reservoir and flowing under Manor Lane. Just east of Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park, it bends toward the southwest and crosses Adobe Road. From there, the creek follows Casa Grande Road, crossing under the road twice as it winds in and out of Adobe Creek Golf Club, crosses Ely Boulevard, and runs along the eastern edge of Del Oro Park. It flows under Lakeville Highway (State Route 116) at milepost 36.19, crosses South McDowell Boulevard, and enters the Petaluma River about 1 mile (1.6 km) southeast of the U.S. 101 bridge.”
- For more photos of Lafferty by local photographers, simply enter Lafferty or Lafferty Ranch on Google for an image search