Tolay Lake Regional Park, co-managed by county and Graton Rancheria tribe, opening Oct. 27

Tolay Lake Regional Park, the largest in the Sonoma County park system, will open for daily public use late this month, marking a much-celebrated occasion that’s been 13 years in the making.

The park opening on Oct. 27 will lift the veil on hidden scenic treasures, miles of trails, diverse wildlife and hallowed aboriginal healing grounds — all of it mostly off-limits to the general public up to this point.

At 3,400 acres, “it’s a massive land base and an important ecological preserve for the county,” Regional Parks Director Bert Whitaker said. “And it has amazing cultural history.”

Located off Lakeville Highway about 8 miles southeast of Petaluma, the park takes in swaths of valley grasslands, rolling hills, creek canyon and oak woodland, as well as historic ranch buildings and the seasonal 200-acre lake itself.

The public unveiling gives Whitaker an answer to relentless questions he receives from an eager public about the park’s status.

“The feedback I’m getting is unbelievable,” he said. Management of the park is being called a model of cooperation between the county and the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria, whose ancestors occupied villages on the site for millennia.

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