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Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

Friday, July 1st, 2011 | Posted by

Taking it easy and cruising the lake in a kayak.

It’s one of those scorching hot Sonoma County days. You know the kind. The sun is blazing, the temperatures are rising, and there’s not a breeze to be found anywhere.

If you happen to live in or around Cloverdale, chances are you might decide to head out to Yorty Creek for a few hours to just relax and cool off.

A short winding drive up Hot Springs Road brings you to this little slice of heaven. Tucked away in the hills east of town, it is one of several inlets of the man-made Lake Sonoma, and is only accessible by vehicle from Cloverdale. It’s the perfect spot to spend a warm summer day with friends and family, or even to just get away by yourself for a little while.

Yorty Creek has a small playground area and covered picnic areas.

Whether you’re looking for someplace to go swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, camping, bird watching, picnicking or to simply lay around working on your tan, you’ll find it here. There’s even a small playground and a beach for the kids, and the swimming area is roped off so they don’t go out too far.

It’s important to note there is no drinking water available, so bring whatever you need with you. No glass containers of any kind are permitted on the beach. Also, there is no life guard on duty, so swim at your own risk and keep an eye on your children. Dogs are allowed, but must stay in their own section of the swim beach.

Get there early and lay claim to one of the free covered picnic areas. Otherwise, you might consider bringing a big umbrella or some other kind of shade covering to set up on the beach. In either case, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen.

Swimmers enjoy the scenery as much as the lake itself.

Lake Sonoma has two public launching areas, one of which is at Yorty Creek. Since no trailers are allowed here, only car-top boats, canoes and kayaks can be brought up. Campers wishing to launch and park overnight must first check in with the Lake Sonoma Visitor Center at the main park entrance off Dry Creek Road. You’ll need a parking permit to avoid receiving a citation.

Several campgrounds can be accessed by boat from Yorty Creek, including the Thumb Camp Campground, which has good fishing and is in a no-wake zone. The fully shaded campsites are located in a secluded area with a gentle slope leading to the water. Reservations can be made by calling (877) 444-6777.

Submerged trees provide excellent underwater habitat for a wide variety of game fish. As a result, some of the best bass fishing in the state can be found here. Various pan fish, such as Sacramento perch, channel catfish, sunfish and bluegill are also abundant.

Thumb Camp Campground is only a short paddle away from Yorty Creek.

Rodney Gren is one Cloverdalian who recently rediscovered Yorty Creek when he decided to take his kayak up after work. The other day while floating along he saw a large osprey swoop down within 30 feet of him, scoop up a fish and fly back up to a tree branch to enjoy its catch.

Gren calls kayaking on the lake his new addiction. “It was just so relaxing and peaceful. I can just sit there in the middle of the lake, watch the birds and look around at the hills. Best thing is no cell service!”

To reach Yorty Creek, take the S. Cloverdale Blvd. offramp from Hwy 101 and turn West to Cloverdale Blvd. Turn right, and at the first corner by the Chevron station, turn left and go to Foothill Blvd. Turn right for about .5 miles to Hot Spring Springs Rd. Turn left and go up the hill.

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Mary Jo Winter is our Cloverdale correspondent.
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