Hiking and Adventure Guide Sonoma Coast and Russian River  by Stephen W. Hinch

Hiking & Adventure Guide: Sonoma Coast & Russian River Guide Book

by Stephen W. Hinch (Wilderness Press)
Hiking and Adventure Guide Sonoma Coast and Russian River  by Stephen W. Hinch
The only complete guide to the six state parks and 15 coastal and riverside regional parks in one of the most rugged and beautiful regions of northern California: the magnificent Sonoma Coast and Russian River. The full range of outdoor adventures are described here, including hiking, camping, diving, whale/seal watching, and more. At Sonoma Coast State Park, explore miles of sandy beaches, isolated coves, and wildflower-covered trails. Watch for whales at Bodega Head. Visit Fort Ross State Historic Park, a Russian colonial outpost dating back to 1812. Free-dive for abalone at Salt Point State Park, site of strange sandstone sculptures and a rare pygmy forest. See the rhododendrons that bloom each spring at nearby Kruse Rhododendron Reserve, then turn inland to Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, home to the last major stand of old-growth redwoods in Sonoma County. Detailed trail descriptions and trail maps along with a table of Gps waypoints for trail junctions and point of interest.

© 2009 Stephen W Hinch/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking & Adventure Guide: Sonoma Coast & Russian River" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 25.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 25.

This trail stretches from the bluffs overlooking Stump Beach all the way to Horseshoe Point, but most people will want to start from either Fisk Mill Cove or nearby Cannon Gulch. This trail description covers the southerly hike from Fisk Mill Cove to Stump Beach. The following description covers the northerly hike to Horseshoe Cove. You can also enter Bluff Trail from the free parking area along Highway 1 just north of Fisk Mill Cove at Cannon Gulch.
Stewarts Point, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.8
This little-used trail lets you explore some of the more remote areas of Bodega Dunes. Although you never climb more than 100 feet, your entire route is on soft sand, making it a fairly strenuous hike. Westside Trail itself is simply an access route to the dunes. It connects to Upper Miwok Trail after a half mile. This hike follows Westside Trail to its end and continues on Miwok Trail over the southern portion of the Miwok Loop Trail described in Trail 3. It then makes a loop and returns back along Westside Trail. However, if you are feeling particularly energetic you can extend your hike farther along Lower Miwok Trail to as far as the Day Use Area, with several other opportunities for an earlier return.
Bodega Bay, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.7
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This relatively level loop circles the southern tip of Bodega Head. It hugs the cliff edges for most of its distance, so keep young children in control. From December through April, you may be lucky enough to glimpse the spouts of California gray whales as they migrate along the coast. At several points along the way, you’ll see sheltered beaches 150 feet below you, but the faint volunteer trails down to them aren’t maintained by the State and descent is dangerous. Stay on the loop trail—if you really want to frolic in the sand, head for one of the northern beaches.
Bodega Bay, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.8
This trail has two parts. The first is an easy walk across the bluffs to grand views of the coast. Then at the edge of the bluff is a steep, challenging trail down to an isolated, rocky beach 200 feet below. This is a favorite spot for adventurous divers during abalone season. As its name implies, this is not a trail for the casual hiker. In recent years rangers have had to rescue several people who became exhausted or fell and suffered injuries on the climb. Don’t attempt this descent unless you are in excellent physical condition and are wearing good hiking boots. A sturdy hiking staff may come in handy as you descend the steepest parts of the trail.
Fort Ross, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.3
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This trail climbs 600 feet through coastal redwoods to a rare pygmy forest, then on to a “prairie,” an area of open grassland high in the hills. Numerous signs along the initial part of the hike introduce you to the many trees, shrubs, and flowers of the forest. You then start a long descent through more redwood forest to Highway 1 and the trailhead. For most of the hike you travel along broad fire roads, but the last mile is on a single-track trail with several short but steep climbs and descents. You aren’t likely to encounter many other hikers along most of the route.
Jenner, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.6
This quiet trail, a former Native American trading route, climbs 700 feet through redwood forests and grassy hillsides before descending to Highway 1 across from Shell Beach. Named after an early environmentalist, it gives you excellent views of the coast from several locations along the way. This description covers the trail starting from the Pomo Canyon Campground. Trail 9 is a variant that starts from Shell Beach and loops via Red Hill. PLEASE NOTE: Dogs are not allowed on the trail.
Jenner, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
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This challenging hike takes you through some of the most beautiful backcountry in the region. You descend 1000 feet during the first 1.5 miles of the hike and climb the same amount near the end, so be in good shape and bring plenty of food and water. Before attempting this hike, first check with the rangers at the Armstrong Woods entrance kiosk. This trail includes numerous fords of Gilliam Creek and East Austin Creek, and in wet weather, they may be impassible. In the dry season, all open flame may be prohibited, and in the worst conditions, the trail may be completely closed.
Guerneville, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 12
Enjoy the solitude and marvel at the scenery as you hike this little-used loop trail around the western flank of McCray Mountain. For most of its length you climb a wide, easily traveled fire road. At the top of the hike, a short stretch of single-track trail winds through open forest with moderate undergrowth before joining another fire road for the descent back to your car. At several points along the way you have magnificent views south and west all the way to Santa Rosa and beyond.
Guerneville, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
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This challenging hike starts and ends in redwood forest, while the center portion traverses wooded grasslands. For the first 3 miles you climb a total of 1200 feet through sheltered forest along East Ridge Trail. The initial 500 feet of your climb lies within Armstrong Redwoods and the remainder within Austin Creek. At the top, you take Gilliam Creek Trail just long enough to cross over to Pool Ridge Trail for the descent. You have several chances for an early return along the way, but even the shortest loop involves considerable elevation gain. This loop is suitable for equestrians as well as hikers.
Guerneville, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 6
This trail takes you through the sandstone-sculptured northern half of Bluff Trail, now called Grace Rock Trail on park maps. Along the way you will discover a pioneer cemetery and the remains of an old lumber chute used to load sailing ships in the 19th century. It’s also the way to the viewing platform at Sentinel Rock, only a short distance from the trailhead.
Stewarts Point, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.3
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This trail is part of the upper Willow Creek acquisition that became part of Sonoma Coast State Park in 2005. The State currently lacks the funding to open it to the general public, so it is only accessible to holders of permits issued by LandPaths. Please note that unless you have a permit or are accompanied by a permit holder, you cannot take this trip.
Jenner, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.1
You can see evidence of the San Andreas fault by hiking an overgrown logging road from Fort Ross Road to Kolmer Gulch. Along the way, you pass through the Stanley S. Spyra Memorial Grove, the world’s oldest second-growth redwood forest, then through open grasslands and mixed forest. Take the Upper Kolmer Gulch fork to reach Kolmer Gulch Camp, a secluded picnic area, or the Lower Kolmer Gulch fork to hike as far as Highway 1. Either direction offers plenty of solitude, and is a great hike for days when strong winds discourage you from hiking the exposed coastline.
Fort Ross, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
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This pleasant trail from Shell Beach to Blind Beach extends along the coastal bluffs with excellent views of the rugged coastline. You will also pass the probable site of Pleistocene “rubbing rocks” frequented by prehistoric mammoths. You will have little shelter from the blowing winds, so save this hike for calm weather. The trail is named for former Sonoma County Supervisor Bill Kortum. In the early 1970s he helped lead the effort to stop construction of housing developments that would have destroyed the natural beauty of this coast.
Jenner, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.6
In spring and summer, the coastal headlands along this reasonably easy trail from Shell Beach to Wright’s Beach are blanketed with a spectacular explosion of wildflowers. Some of the numerous types you’ll see include Douglas iris, buttercup, sticky monkeyflower, cow parsnip, flowering currant, purple bush lupine, Indian paintbrush, salmonberry, purple seaside daisy, coast buckwheat, and sea thrift. For a longer hike, you can combine this hike with Trail 5. To cover the entire route, start at either the Blind Beach parking lot and hike south or the Wright’s Beach parking lot and hike north.
Jenner, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.4
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This is a popular hike when the rhododendrons are in bloom in April and May. At other times of year you are likely to have the trail to yourself. Don’t restrict yourself just to rhododendron season—it is a pleasant hike through redwood forest at any time of year. The described hike is an extended loop through the park. If you’re just interested in seeing rhododendrons, you can take a much shorter loop through the best displays right near the trailhead.
Jenner, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
Hikers may be tempted to avoid this trail because it is a main horse path to the dunes, but don’t be discouraged. On a sunny Saturday in June, I didn’t encounter another person, either on horseback or on foot, during my entire hike. I frequently use this trail for field training students in my GPS navigation classes. If there aren’t a lot of horse trailers parked in the lot, you should be safe enough.
Bodega Bay, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
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Although there are no designated trails north of the stockade, a path of sorts traverses the headlands from Northwest Cape to Highway 1 near Windermere Point. The open, windswept headlands offer excellent views of the fort and coastline. You may have to navigate around idly grazing cattle during the hike, for the Parks Department leases this land to local ranchers.
Fort Ross, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
This easy hike takes you through the old Russian orchard, where several trees planted by the Russians, along with many more planted by later landowners, still survive. Much of the trail traverses open grassland, so use insect repellent to deter ticks and dress appropriately. You may also want to stop first at the visitor center to get the latest information and pick up a map of the orchard, which also includes explanations for the various markers installed throughout the orchard.
Fort Ross, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4
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This trail leads across headlands covered with ice plant, purple seaside daisies, bush lupine, and coastal scrub/grasslands. From December through April, keep an eye open for migrating whales. Part of this trail traverses the Bodega Marine Reserve, a 326-acre laboratory operated by the University of California. The Reserve is otherwise off-limits to the public, so obey the posted signs and stay on the trail along this portion. You can visit the lab when it is open to the public on Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m.; take the marked road west off Westshore Road.
Bodega Bay, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.8
This level loop trail takes you through the heart of an old-growth redwood forest, with a side trip to the Forest Theater. You climb only 50 feet the entire way, making this an easy hike through redwood forest. Interpretive signs along the way explain such topics as forest animals, Native Americans, and methods of redwood regeneration. The disabled-accessible Discovery Trail to the Colonel Armstrong Tree has several features designed to aid visually impaired persons.
Guerneville, CA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
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