Estero Americano

Valley Ford, California 94972

Estero Americano

Estero Americano Professional Review and Guide

"From its humble beginnings in a cow pasture (some local paddlers refer to the launch site as “the muddy ditch”), Estero Americano winds 6 miles to the sea, the scenery
improving constantly with each turn downstream. Within a mile of the Holsteins at the put in, the narrow channel slips between grassy, golden hills and widens into salt marsh. In addition to ducks and shorebirds, this riparian corridor is an excellent place to view raptors, including peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and a variety of hawks, soaring over the ridge tops.

Near the ocean, the hills become steeper and wilder still, now cloaked in coastal scrub and traversed by deer and elk. When the estero exits a gap in the steep ocean cliffs, the vista is about as far from a cow pasture as you can get. Beyond the cliffs and sea stacks stretches the entire sweep of Bodega Bay, from Bodega Head in the north to Tomales Point in the south; on clear days you can even see Point Reyes headland, 20 miles in the distance. You can hunker out of the wind behind the low dunes at the mouth for lunch and even camp overnight, if you don’t mind sharing the view with a house high on the bluff."

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Trail Information

Valley Ford
Nearby City
1-12 miles
Trail Type
Easy to Difficult
Skill Level
Check tides when the mouth is open to the sea—to get past the shallow area midway requires at least 2 feet, and more is better; currents are fairly weak except at the mouth when it is open to the sea.
Tidal Information
Mud, afternoon wind, and steep beach at mouth with channel to ocean sometimes open with swift seaward currents. Shores of the estero are private property until you reach the ocean beach.
Best Times
USGS Valley Ford (7.5 minute), tide book.
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018