Dragoon Gulch Trail
Central Valley

Hiking Dragoon Gulch Trail In Sonora

Dragoon Gulch Trail is a beautiful day hike on the outskirts of Sonora town in Central California. The Dragoon Gulch Trail system consists of more than 3 miles of hiking trails ranging from short easy ones to moderately strenuous ones.

Dragoon Gulch is the perfect trail for those who want to head out for a quick escape into nature without having to venture too far away from Sonora and the other nearby cities.  

Location

The Dragoon Gulch Trailhead is located on top of a hill just west of Sonora’s Downtown.

There is a small designated parking lot right at the trailhead where hikers can leave their cars. But note that this parking lot has very limited space so try to come early to secure a parking spot.

Trailhead Address: 680 Woods Creek Dr, Sonora, CA 95370

Dragoon Gulch Trail Overview

Here are a few quick details about the Dragoon Gulch Trail:

  • Dragoon Gulch Trail is free to hike
  • This trail is dog friendly
  • Dragoon Gulch trail system consists of a couple of smaller loops that connect together
  • The longest loop goes up to a viewpoint and then climbs down
  • There are maps at the trailhead highlighting the available trails
  • There are trashcans at the trailhead but no bathrooms
  • Dragoon Gulch Trail is very family-friendly and offers benches for resting

Our Hiking Experience

We were visiting Sonora for a quick weekend getaway and I was looking for a short trail in the area to stretch our legs on.

We had our puppy with us so we could only do a trail that was dog friendly and pretty easy since he couldn’t handle long hiking distances yet. The Dragoon Gulch Trail fit our needs perfectly.

The Dragoon Gulch Trail is located on the outskirts of Sonora town next to a residential neighborhood. Although Dragoon Gulch Trail is super close to Sonora, as soon as we stepped into this trail we felt completely submerged into nature.

After parking our car in the designated parking lot we could see the trailhead entrance point clearly marked next to it. But once we walked into the Dragoon Gulch Trail itself, it immediately branched into multiple different directions and we were not sure where to go.

What makes this hike so confusing is that each little section of the trail has its own name:

  • Vista Trail .4 miles
  • Summit Trail .9 miles
  • Cutback Trail .3 miles
  • Ridge Trail .6 miles

If it sounds confusing – don’t worry. Just take a photo of the hiking map at the beginning of the trailhead so you can track your location.

We also used our go-to hiking app Maps.Me for this trail when we felt lost. There are multiple routes that you can take through these trails and we had to reference our hiking app a few times to stay on track.

Tip: You can download Maps.me hiking map for Sonora ahead of time so it doesn’t use up your phone’s data!

We decided to do the biggest loop through Summit Trail that is around 2 miles long and leads up to a viewpoint of Sonora’s Downtown.

After entering the Dragoon Gulch trailhead we turned left to follow signs for Vista Trail. This trail leads through beautiful California oak woodlands that are native to California Coast and Central Valley.

We were hiking the Dragoon Gulch trail during a slight rainstorm so the trees and surrounding landscape looked very saturated and colorful.

Most of this trail leads through burgundy colored Manzanita trees that hovered over the trail providing us with a little bit of cover from the rain.

The .4 mile long Vista Trail was steep and climbed up towards the top of a hill overlooking Sonora but there were some benches and resting areas set up along the way.

After .4 miles Vista Trail connected with the Summit Trail and we continued the climb up.

As we neared the top the trees became more scarce and much shorter. The vegetation was replaced by rocky surfaces where fewer trees could grow.

After reaching the top we had the choice to continue on through the Summit Trail or backtrack the same way we came. Either way would eventually take us back down the mountain.

We decided to continue on through the Summit Trail that eventually connected with the Cutback Trail and Ridge Trail.

We wanted to take the longest route possible so we skipped the Cutback Trail exit option and continued on to Ridge Trail that added another .6 miles. From there the Ridge Trail connected back with Vista Trail that led us back to our car.

If it sounds confusing just download the Maps.me app with Sonora trail layout so you never get lost. Without a map, you might take the wrong turn or end up walking in loops.

Even with the rain, it was a really beautiful day outside and the rain kept most of the people away. We only ran into a few other hikers on these trails.

We really enjoyed this hike but we did hurry back down once it started pouring and hailing.

The Dragoon Gulch trail overall is easy with lots of exit options. The trail itself is wide and well taken care of so it’s very family and kid-friendly.

But it does climb up around 270 feet in elevation at the highest point so make sure to wear good hiking shoes and bring plenty of water, especially in the summer.  

All together we hiked at a pretty slow pace enjoying the nature around us so it took us about 2 hours to complete this 2-mile long hike. If that sounds too long, you can also choose one of the shorter loops for a quick hike.


Here are a few other awesome things to check out in the area:

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