I took notes on some of the great places we visited along the northern California coast during June-Aug. 2015. Somehow I never posted them, though I may have mentioned the excellent, Hiker’s Hip Pocket Guide to the Mendocino Coast, by Bob Lorentzen. We used it regularly. My own notes are these:
Places visited on the California Coast between Pt. Arena and Bruhel Point, Westport, CA
These are listed from North to South, with the date of the visit(s), when I noted them:
Bruhel Point, S. of Westport
• Pullout at M 74.0 or 74.5
• There are picnic tables and benches and a trail to the cliff edge. If you walk the path S along the bluff there is access to the shore.
• Go at low tide to get out on the rocks. Good tidepools at low tide.
• There is a trail into the wetlands. Bring bug spray.
Lyndon La., north of Ft. Bragg 8/20/15
• Turn off Rte. 1 onto Lyndon La. Turn R (N) onto unpaved path before last house. The path makes a loop
• Park at the far end of the loop
• Take path W, cross haul road to several bluffs with rocky outcrops and beaches
• Tide pools, beach glass, very little abalone
Virgin Creek, N of Ft. Bragg
• Pullout N of Montessori school
• Woodpeckers along the trail
• Shore birds on beach and in mouth of Virgin Creek
• Phalarope, black turnstone, least sandpiper
McKerricher State Park, Cleone Lake
• Entrance at M 64.87 for ranger station (no fee)
• Parking area for Lake Cleone
• Birdwatching around the pond, go counterclockwise to avoid closed section of boardwalk. On our second visit, we went clockwise and around the closed section. Not bad at all.
• Wrentit, orange crowned warbler, Virginia rail, Great blue heron, egret
McKerricher State Park, skip ranger station
• Turn off at M 63.81, W toward the water
• Parking and trail head are just S. of the street
• Wide sand beach for walking, swimming or birdwatching
• Sanderling, gulls, Townsend’s solitaire, Heerman’s gull, Western gull, hummingbirds along trail
McKerricher State Park, 7/19/15
• Turn W. from Rte 1 at mile 62.7, there’s a sign
• The beach is long and sandy with a few mussel shells. Very little for beachcombing.
• Park in furthest south lot and walk toward the seal viewpoint, or follow shore toward S. facing rocks
Coastal Access to beach south of Mckerricher State Park
• Trail from side of road goes W, crosses Haul Rd., continues W to the shore. Bluffs are low, beach is sandy
• Very good tide pools, not much beachcombing.
Pudding Creek, Coastal Access
• Just N of mile 62.0
• N. side of Pudding Creek near trestle bridge
• Large beach, good birding
• Try Boice Rd. Mile 58.50
Hare Creek Beach, S. end of Ft. Bragg, W of Hwy. 1
• Turn W. at Ocean View Dr, also access to Todd Pt. and College of the Redwoods
• Turn L (S) at first intersection, Harbor Ave. Park W. of trailhead
• OR park on Main St. Ft. Bragg by the N. End of Hare Creek ridge. Trail head is at N. end of bridge
• OR cross ridge toward S. and turn R at first St, Old Coast Hwy, then right onto Cypress
• Parking and trailhead at narrow opening between board fence and split rail fence, this is unmarked. All routes descend to a very nice small beach
Belinda Point public access, terrific
• Turn W on Boice La. S of Mendocino Botanical Garden
• Turn S on Ocean Dr.
• Sign on R after Pacific Way
• Path runs between houses to the bluff
• Stairs to the beach, some glass, little driftwood, no abalone
• Continue S on Ocean Dr. just before the end at a cluster of Do Not Enter signs is great birdwatching: northern Flicker, Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, chestnut backed chickadee
Todd Point, Ft. Bragg
• Turn W. on Ocean View Dr south of Noyo Harbor
• Follow to end and park
• Pah runs along the bluffs, there are some picnic tables along the Noyo Harbor side of the park
• July 4th fireworks are here.
• We saw whates spouting and diving during August.
• There is a large cormorant rookery.
• You can climb down onto the rocks but it is steep
• Form the rocks it would be possible to fish
• We saw downy baby gulls here on 7/25/15
Pine Beach, from Pine Beach Inn
• Park by turquoise house of Ocean Ave. aprox M. 58
• Walk to far N portion of motel to start of path.
• Beach has fresh water stream and small lagoon
• No tide pools, abalone, glass, driftwood
• Lots of birds, chickadee, pygmy nuthatch, waxwings, plover, goldfinch, wilson’s warbler, flycatcher, Hutton’s vireo, yellow warbler
Jughandle N. Headlands, 7/21/15, 8/9 and 8/17/15
• Turn W. from Rte 1 onto Ocean Dr.
• Park on dirt opposite Pine Beach Inn
• We took the trail W from the parking area and came out at dramatic bluffs
• Beaches vary in difficulty of access, though the trail runs across one (Belden’s beach?)
• We walked as far as the point south of Jefferson Way and returned to the car via Jefferson and Rte. 1
• Beaches have some very private spots.
• Driftwood, no glass or abalone
• All beaches are sand.
• Pileated woodpecker along trail to headlands
• Semipalmated plover, least sandpiper, black phoebe, pygmy nuthatch, song sparrow, chestnut backed chickadee
Jughandle State Park, 6/28/15, 8/5/15
Snorkeling, sand beach
• All beaches on N side of park are sand
• To start snorkeling, turn R (N) at trail map by parking lot. Take first trail to the left and follow to the trail down to the sandy beach on the N side of the point. Start on the beach and snorkel around the point toward the south.
Caspar Headlands-fishing, from the South
• Stop at station opposite Russian Gulch (E of Rte. 1) to pick up a permit for Caspar Headlands. This is annual so you only have to go once. It is probably good to do this just so the state has records that people use and enjoy Caspar Headlands, despite its small size.
• Back on Rte. 1, go N to Cabrillo Dr. (Rd. 409) just before (S of) the bridge over Caspar Creek.
• Follow road past beach and uphill until it meets S. Caspar Headlands Dr. Look for pullout indicated on Cal State Parks map and park.
• Walk toward the ocean, take the central path to areas C, D, E. We fished on the south facing rocks just after low tide.
Caspar Headlands Coastal Access, from the North
• Turn W. from Rte. 1 at Pt. Cabrillo exit
• Go in to beach
• Follow road up hill past beach
• Trail head is off S. Caspar Dr. There are three paths that branch onto the headlands
• This is where we saw abalone in a tidepool.
• To return, follow S. Caspar Dr. back around to the S/SE until you reach Pt. Cabrillo Rd.
• Pt. Cabrillo Dr. and Rte. 1 returns you to the highway by the entrance to Russian Gulch State Park
• Pacifica is the second right turn off the Caspar Rd. as you go south from the Caspar Rd. turnoff from Hwy 1.
• Park behind healing center on Pacifica and you will see trail head.
• Trail goes sto an overlook over a stony beach, but there is no way down to it. The trail is bordered by a fence on one side and a huge brush pile along the other side.
• There is no beach access from Seadrift Dr.
• There is no coast access along Pacifica beyond the healing center parking and trail head.
• Turn W. from Rte. 1 at Pt. Cabrillo exit, Rd. 409
• Look for turnoff on the left. There is a barrier, but space to park.
• Follow path to cemetery.
• Southernmost occurrence of sitka spruce, preferred feeding for crossbills
• We didn’t see any, but it is beautiful.
Russian Gulch North Side, 6/30/15, 7/26/15
• Turn off Ret. 1 at Russian Gulch State Park, mile 53.
• Turn left, pass guard booth (pay or show tag), take right fork.
L. fork is parking, Center road goes to the beach
• Follow right fork to farthest parking area, end of road
• Follow trail past blowhole, take right hand forks
• Fish off the north side of the rocks.
Russian Gulch South side, 6/27/15
• Turn W off Rte 1 at R 52.00, road goes about 1 m to a dead end. Scuba and abalone divers depart from a spot about halfway along. Park at the dead end and walk back to the South Headlands Trail.
• Follow this trail W to the grassy point for fishing. You have to get down to the rocks but there are a couple of steep paths. Both N & S sides have good spots
• Tidepools here: mussel, sea anemone, tiny snail, crab
Cypress Drive, north of Mendocino
• No parking in the neighborhood
• There are access paths on either side of houses at the end of the street, by the Sea Dreams motel.
• Are these ocean access even if they are marked No Access?
• Try Drifters Reef Rd.
Brewery Gulch Rd.
• Just S of Big River Rd.
• Several access points
• Entry path goes to a broad overlook of Mendocino town and Big River beach
• This is a good place to take law chairs
• No access to rocks/beach that we could see.
• Access from pullout at mile 49.0 (aprox) on Rt. 1
• Trail goes to the water and then right, follow to end to see sea lions
• Left goes to rocks for hiking.
• Peterson Lane-park off Hwy 1 in cleared area.
• Walk west to find path to VanDamme beach (S); Spring Ranch path is N.
VanDamme State Park, hiking 7/20/15
• Take Hwy 1 S of Mendocino to Little River Rd., turn East
• Park at Pygmy Forest, the road has become Airport Rd. at this point
• We hiked the Old Logging Rd. Trail
• On a later visit we hiked the Fern Canyon Trail
• 3 hrs. round trip including stop for lunch at the bottom.
VanDamme State Park, beach combing
• Easy parking access from Rte.1 just south of Spring Ranch
• Best beachcombing for abalone
• Some beach glass
• No coastal access from N of Albion to Little River
• There may be access W of Little River Post Office, very small headland can be accessed from the P.O.
Little River Cemetery
• Path runs through the cemetery from the cemetery gate.
• W of the cemetery is a blow hole and a large sinkhole. It is possible to enter the sinkhole.
• There is a trail and a rope but it is steep and a small area at the bottom once you get there.
• The trail goes to the bluffs but the overlook is very small
• No shore access
• Nuthatches, chickadees
Dark Gulch Beach and Navarro Bluff via stairs, Heritage House Coastal Access
• Turn W off Hwy 1 at M45.25. This turnoff is easy to miss, it is unmarked between a wooden fence and a driveway
• Stairs turn and end at the beach, which is invisible from the road
• Beautiful beach, little abalone, no glass
• M. 44.87 just south of this marker on the W side of the Rd (Rte. 1) is a pine tree with Christmas bulbs on it. You can pull over and look at it.
• Pullout just south of R. 41.95 on Rte. 1.
• Beautiful bluff walk, with one area on the point furthest SW that has an especially wide range of wild flowers.
Navarro by the Sea, just south of Albion
• Mostly sand beach, some gravel
• No abalone or glass
• Huge collection of driftwood, some made into fanciful structures by visitors
• On Hwy 1 just S of junction with Rte. 128, turn right at M 40.15
• Go all the way to the end of the road to park. There are restrooms and trash cans
• To climb the bluffs on the old coast Hwy trail, look for the trailhead at .35 mi from the turnoff
• A sign on the old road says “closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic” follow old road up the bluffs
Greenwood State Beach, 8/13/15
• Parking in the town of Elk, across from the store, M 34.05
• Easy downhill path to the beach
• Picnic tables on the bluff and one at the beach
• Lots of driftwood, some sea glass
• Spectacular views
Manchester State Beach, 8/12/15
• Kiney Rd. M. 21.40 goes in to parking and rest room
• Trail to beach is long
• Beach is very long, like a beach in SoCal
• Lots of driftwood, but no abalone or sea glass.
Pt. Arena pier
• We went on a cold day and enjoyed having lunch near the pier