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Exploring the Mendonoma Coast

Mendonoma is a term that refers to this special area that spans upper Sonoma County and lower Mendocino County. Known for its pristine landscapes, majestic vistas, and abundant wildlife. Before you set off to explore, there's a few things you should know:

Never turn your back on the Ocean

Sneaker waves are large, irregular waves that can occur during any "normal" set of waves. Riptides along the coast are extremely powerful. Keep your eyes on children or dogs playing in the surf.

Bluffs Crumble

Stay a safe distance from the edge of bluffs and keep dogs on leash.

Stay on the Trail

Most of these trails take you through either nature preserves or easements of private property donated to the public. Be a good guest and stay on marked trails and keep your dogs on leash.

Take your Trash

It should go without saying, but do not litter. There is no trash collection at any of these trails or beaches.

Do not approach Wildlife

Seal pups and fawns are often alone when the mother is out searching for food. It is unlikely they are abandoned. If the mother sees you approach her baby she may view you as a threat and not return. Another important reason to keep your dog on leash. If you see an animal you believe to be in distress, please contact us so we can reach out to the appropriate channels.

Interactive trail maps and downloadable pdf maps available from the Mendocino Land Trust here

Anchor Bay

Anchor Bay Campground

Just south of Rendezvous this private campground is an ideal place if you're looking to spend a long afternoon on the beach. Protected cove is great for splashing in the water and body surfing. Low tide allows for long walks along the beach. Drive up for easy beach access and bathroom facilities available. Charges a small fee per person and for parking.

Cook's Beach

This is the closest public beach access to Rendezvous. Just a 2 minute drive south on Highway 1. Look for St. Orres (wooden Russian hotel) on your left. You'll see a coastal access sign. Turn right on CR-526 and you'll see the Bonham trailhead. Free parking along the road. Moderately steep trail with some stairs to beach. Large cove great for picnicking and enjoying the beach. Meet the locals and their dogs here.

Point Arena

Heading North from Rendezvous

Hearn Gulch

Mile marker 10

Walk along the bluffs and look for harbor seals in the coves below. Follow the trail down to Hearn Gulch. Steep trail with a few challenging stairs/rocks to access beach. You'll be rewarded with a particularly dramatic cove and view of stunning rock formations. Short trail, small cove, but particularly lovely.

Schooner Gulch

Intersection of Highway 1 and Schooner Gulch Road

You'll recognize it by the parking on the west side of the highway that says "Park facing South". You can also park on Schooner Gulch Road. This is the same parking for Bowling Ball Beach. Schooner Gulch is the southerly trailhead and it a short, flat walk to the cove. At low tide you can enjoy walking along the rock faces and looking for crabs and other marine life. A trail going over the bluff connects to Bowling Ball Beach.

Bowling Ball Beach

Intersection of Highway 1 and Schooner Gulch Road

Same parking as Schooner Gulch. Bowling Ball Beach is the northerly trailhead that leads you down a series of stairs to the beach. The "bowling balls" are a series of concretions that remain after their outer layers were eroded away leaving dramatic rows of large spheres lined up along the coastline. Only viewable at low-tide. This is also a great beach for picnicking or tide pooling.

Moat Creek

Mile Marker 12.88

Look  for coastal access sign and parking lot on west side of highway

Very easy walk to the beach with bench for enjoying the view, or take the bluff trail up and over to the south to Ross Creek. This trail receives less maintenance and is a little more wild. Be on the the look out for ticks. Your reward is Ross Creek is an excellent place to tide pool, especially if you're looking for an abalone shell prize. At low tide you can follow the shoreline all the way south to Bowling Ball Beach.

Pelican Bluffs

Highway marker 13.5

Look for coastal access sign and small parking lot on west side of highway

A beautiful walk through reclaimed meadows home to nesting birds, wildflowers, and the endangered mountain beaver. Breathtaking views of the ocean give you the perfect opportunity for whale watching. Follow the path along the bluff to find educational signs about the rock formations and at the end of the trail is a perfect bench for watching the sun set. Well maintained trail with some uphill/downhill but mostly flat. 2.2 mile loop.

Stornetta Unit (City Hall)

Easy parking at Point Arena City Hall

Follow Highway 1 as it curves through Point Arena and look for City Hall (also the Veteran's Hall) and parking lot on the west side of the highway. Access the trailhead through the wooden gate. Walk straight to follow the trail along the bluff above the Arena Cove and Pier and watch the local surfers, or take the trail to your left to walk through the woods before eventually meeting back up with the bluff trail. Truly stunning with abundant wildlife, as well as the occasional cows. For those who like long hikes, you can follow this trail all the way to the Point Arena Lighthouse. 

Stornetta Unit (Lighthouse)

Dirt parking area with port-a-potty and wooden gate

Follow Highway 1 past the Point Arena City Hall and follow signs for the lighthouse. Turn left on Lighthouse Road. Parking area is approximately half a mile before you reach the lighthouse.This trail is the north end of the Stornetta Unit as is relatively flat and easy to navigate. Enjoy dramatic rock formations and turbulent surf churning below the bluffs. Watch for whales, harbor seals,  porpoises, and orcas. Relatively easy tide-pool access at low tide.

Manchester State Park

Sign and Parking Lot on West side of Highway

Continuing on Highway 1 past Lighthouse Road, you'll see Manchester State Park. Follow the trail through grasslands to find a shoreline with towering sand dunes and a beautiful view of the lighthouse. The area is home to much wildlife including the endangered mountain beaver.

Sea Ranch

Heading South on Highway 1 from Rendezvous

Salal Trail

Park in Gualala Point Regional Park for small fee or free parking in the dirt lot across the street and walk in. Walk through the park towards the ocean and turn left to follow the bluffs through Sea Ranch. Admire the incredible views as well as the beautiful architecture of Sea Ranch. After passing over a small creek you'll see a sign for the Salal Trail which will lead you along a picturesque creek through the Sea Ranch golf course and back up to Highway 1 where you can loop back to your parking location.

Walk-On Beach

Public parking lot with restroom facilities

Terrible name, gorgeous place! Located in Sea Ranch, you’ll see a sign and a parking area on your right (ocean side). A beautiful trail leads you through the woods and then out onto the bluffs. You’ll come across a cove first, which is also beautiful, but it you continue following the trail you’ll come across a second set of stairs going down to the beach where you’ll find a long stretch of coastline that you can walk along at low tide. We recommend coming here when the tide is out so that you can enjoy and endless array of stunning tide pools, chalk full of mussels, sea snails, giant green sea anemones, orange and purple starfish, and more! This trail requires ability to walk a fair amount of distance as well as a steep staircase.

Shell Beach

Public parking lot with restroom facilities

Short trail through the cypress trees ends with a bluff trial and beach access. This stretch offers fun coves that weave in and out of the shoreline. The best part about Shell Beach is that in late April and early May there is a seal pup nursery! When it’s pup season, follow the trail down to the bluffs then go right. Keep following it to the right and you’ll come across an area that overlooks the coves where the mamas have their babies. There are usually docents available to answer questions and share their knowledge!

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