(Photo credit by local photographer-artist Phil Wendt)

Top 5 Hiking Trails in The Sea Ranch, CA

Trails Near Sea Ranch, CA

Whether you’re looking for a stroll on the beach or something a little more challenging, the Sea Ranch area has something to offer. The coast plays host to a vibrant selection of wildlife and offers visitors excellent bird watching opportunities. Adventurous vacationers looking to stretch their legs should be able to find just what they’re looking for without having to stray too far from their vacation rental.

1. Coastal Bluff Trail: For those looking for a relaxing walk along the beach, this is one of the most popular trails. Part of the Gualala Point Regional Park, the trail offers a great view of the cliffs along the waterfront. Because of its beauty the trail is dotted with ocean front houses, but still has a lot to offer in natural charm. The Coastal Bluff is an out and back trail with hardly any uphill resistance. The total journey comes in at 6.5 miles. Because of its length and lack of difficult terrain, this trail could be perfect for runners as well.

2. Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve Loop: This trail is a very well maintained 2 mile trip, featuring bridges and redwood circles. The initial uphill climb may be a little daunting to casual hikers, but it is the only real increase in elevation for the duration of the journey. Hikers can expect to see quite a few wildflowers during the spring season and therefore it is recommended that the trail is used from March through May. This is perfect for the vacationer looking for a journey that is short, sweet, and not the ubiquitous walk along the beach.

3. Fisk Mill to Horseshoe Point Trail: This trail, located in Salt Point State Park, is open to all skill levels and is open year-round. Salt Point State Park is a very lightly trafficked area and offers a more secluded hiking experience than the coastal bluff trail. It’s a 3.4 mile out and back journey that boasts beautiful wooded coastal views and lush wildflowers. This is a great change of pace for vacationers who aren’t interested in a longer, more populated trail.

4. Salt Point to Stump Beach Trail: Also, in Salt Point State Park, this trail is rated slightly more strenuous than those preceding, largely because of the very strong wind. There are also a few spurs along the trail that lead away from the beach to give respite from the harsh wind. This trail is great for those looking to view some wildlife. Visiting at low tide will reward hikers with a chance to observe a variety of creatures caught in the tide pools, or perhaps catch a glimpse of seals lounging nearby. Visitors say this trail also offers some of the most unique rock formations. Salt Point to Stump Beach is a 3.3 mile out and back trail best taken from March through October.

5. Fort Ross State Historic Park: This park does require you to pay admission, but it is well worth it for those looking for a little history. Fort Ross has a 4.5 mile out and back trail that takes you through a tour of the fort and the old village buildings, leading you to the area of a former Eskimo village and then on to the site of the first shipyard in California.

6. Schooner Gulch and Bowling Ball Beaches: This is a 1.5 mile out and back trail, leading to the bowling ball geological formation, only visible at low tide. The trail leading up to the formation runs through a meadow that may be overgrown, so it is recommended that you wear long pants. The bowling ball formation will be slick, so it’s important to be cautious. Otherwise, this a very easy and very rewarding trip.

7. Jenner Headlands Preserve: Hikers looking for more of a challenge will find this location less than an hour south of Sea Ranch. Here, the Sea to Sky Raptor Ridge and Pole Mountain trails offer over 20 miles of hard and beautifully rewarding terrain. These trails are rated difficult and are a stark contrast to those that came before. But for those who are up to the challenge, will find exactly what they are looking for in Jenner Headlands.

Hiking is the best way to get to know a place, whether it’s new or old. No matter the difficulty, it’s important to assess your skill level and consider the level of difficulty you’re after before attempting a hike. By keeping this in mind, you’re helping ensure safety and fun for all those involved.