City officials on new bridge
FOOTBRIDGE Healdsburg’s director of Community Services Mark Themig, right, and project planner Tom Campbell discuss improvements to the city’s Fitch Mountain Park and Open Space, including a new bridge over the seasonal creek. (Photo by Christian Kallen)

Dog lovers, day hikers and art lovers all have reason to celebrate the completion of the Fitch Mountain Improvement Project, to be inaugurated on Saturday, May 4, starting at 10am. State Sen. Mike McGuire, Supervisor James Gore, City of Healdsburg officials and other stakeholders will be on hand in the newly slurried-and-stripped parking lot, along with an as-yet-unknown number of dogs and their owners.

But don’t plan on just showing up: Parking is extremely limited and all vehicles will be directed to the high school parking lot, at 1025 Prince Ave. A free shuttle for people and dogs will be available starting at 9:30am to transport celebrants up Powell Avenue to Villa Chanticleer to keep congestion and frustration at bay for the duration of Saturday’s event.

The ceremony itself is expected to begin at 10:45am, with McGuire—a Healdsburg native and long an advocate of protection for Fitch Mountain—expected to give the keynote speech. Key funding for the project came from the State of California via the Coastal Conservancy Grant of $1,650,000, a grant that the influential McGuire (now the Senate’s President Pro Tempore, one of the most powerful positions in the state legislature) helped facilitate.

Other funding came from Sonoma County “Measure M” Regional Park Funds ($380,000), a California State Parks Prop 68 Per Capita Grant ($185,530) and the City of Healdsburg ($811,341).

Improvements at the Villa Dog Park, which has been closed since work on the project began late last year, include a redesigned entrance area with ADA access, water fountains for humans and associated improvements including an improved pet water fountain area, drainage improvements and erosion control, and new shade structures, benches and picnic tables.

Trail Improvements

Though Fitch Mountain looms over the city, at 994 feet in elevation, access to the summit has been problematic for many. Among the improvements the Fitch Mountain Park and Open Space event will reveal is new ADA access to overlook a new pedestrian footbridge spanning a seasonal creek, and a low-gradient Banana Slug Trail circling the refurbished dog park.

The slopes leading down to the creek and other landscaping around the park have been replanted with native trees and bushes, and informational kiosks and signage added.

The trail to the summit has been improved where possible, although extensive grading proved impractical. Near the summit itself a new public art project by Johanna Grawunder and fabricator Paco Prieto was installed; it will be revealed at Saturday’s event.

The day’s activities will include music, artwork, mountain hikes, kids activities, dog park activities, a hot dog barbecue “and a tail waggin’ good time!” according to the city’s own invitation. The events continue until 1pm, with shuttle service available back to the high school parking lot until 1:30pm.For more information, see the city’s web page at

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


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