From Highway 12, Maxwell Farms Regional Park in Boyes Hot Springs looks like an urban park for heavy play. Soccer fields, a skatepark, tennis courts, playgrounds. It’s a deceiving facade. Unless you park and get out of your car, you’d never know that behind the Boys and Girls Club there are 50 acres of open space and nature trails, some bordering Sonoma Creek.

On Aug.  5 the Sonoma Ecology Center is hosting a family evening of activities to introduce people to the hidden backside of Maxwell Farms.

You can make it a quick evening getaway to recharge after work and kids are encouraged. It’s BYOP — bring your own picnic — starting at 6 p.m. At 7 p.m.  head out into the wilderness. You can choose among several guided hikes. One one hike, The Sonoma County Regional Parks staff will point out native and invasive plans. The Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley staff will lead an old fashioned scavenger hunt.  Or for a high-tech challenge, the staff is also organizing a geocaching adventure using GPS.

These hikes are all level and easy. You don’t need stamina for Maxwell. But if you come, do wear study shoes you don’t mind getting dirty and bring a flashlight because the sun will be dropping. during the 90 minute hikes.

No RSVP is necessary. You can just drop by if you’re up for a spontaneous breakaway.

Of course, you can always park and go exploring yourself, any day of the week.

The park is located on the corner of Verano Avenue and Highway 12 just outside the Sonoma city limits. For info call 996-0712 or visit or