Coastal Trail Guide

Mendocino Land Trust

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while there's still time...

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Central Coastal Trails

Hike Our Trails

Mendocino Land Trust has pioneered the way in California for nongovernmental organizations to open and operate public access trail easements. The abundance of coastal access trails helps contribute to the local economy, providing healthy opportunities to get out and enjoy our beautiful coast to residents and visitors alike.

The California Coastal Trail is managed and maintained by a wide variety of Federal, State, County, City, and non-governmental organizations (non-profits) throughout California and on the Mendocino Coast.

  • No cell phone receptionThis location has no cellular reception. Please plan accordingly. We recommend that you download the PDF trail data sheet below to your device prior to your trip to this location.

    The Jug Handle ecological staircase trail features a great family beach at its west end and the intriguing and unique pygmy forest three miles to the east. The ecological staircase is a series of several marine terraces, each with its own geology, soils, and plant communities. Of note, Jug Handle has received a "Natural National Landmark" designation because of the site's unique natural history. 

    The map shows some of the many entry points to this trail, from the north and east. The Jug Handle Farmhouse offers a variety of overnight accommodations for those interested in learning about the fascinating story of John D. Olmsted and his vision for the "Across California Trail," the Jug Handle ecological staircase, as well as the natural history of the Mendocino Coast.

    The 5-mile round trip trail from the ocean bluff to the Pygmy Forest can also be a one-way hike, accessing the ecological staircase trail via the Gibney Lane fire road at the south end of Gibney Lane.  You can walk the 0.5 miles uphill to the Pygmy Forest using the fire road, then hike down the trail to the ocean bluff, assuming you have a shuttle driver to take you back to your car. The Pygmy Forest terraces extend from the third terrace up to the fourth and fifth terraces, and since the path is at times unclear, it's best to walk this part of the trail with a guide. For those who need to leave the hike early, there is a shortcut back to Gibney Lane near a llama farm. This shortcut can be located by looking for the overhead electrical wires just before the trail back to Gibney Lane.

    The Jug Handle Farm provides a campground and cabins, as well as a Farmhouse lodging for those who may want to stay overnight. To schedule a guided trail walk, contact Jug Handle at (707) 964-4630 or (707) 937-3498.

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Jug Handle Trail trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    Jug Handle Farm has ecological staircase maps as well as State Parks trail maps available.

    Trail Latitude (X): 39.375

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.817

    Mapping: View vicinity on Google Maps (see Trail Map above or Trail Data Sheet PDF under the Information tab for a more precise map)

    Highway One Mile Marker (north end): 57

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 55.75

    Trail Length: 2.5 miles

  • No cell phone receptionThis location has no cellular reception. Please plan accordingly. We recommend that you download the PDF trail data sheet below to your device prior to your trip to this location.

    The Caspar Uplands trail’s north end is at Caspar State Beach, a much-loved pocket beach offering surfing, snorkeling, and picnicking. Just east of this beach up the Caspar Uplands Trail is an unusual bench dedicated to Art and Jean Morley. This bench was made by local woodworker Greg Smith, of redwood salvaged from the Pudding Creek Trestle. This hiking trail winds south through fir and riparian forests around Doyle Creek, and then uphill through the southernmost stand of sitka spruce forest in North America. If you are hiking in the spring, you will hear the whistle of osprey pairs nesting in these trees, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of one returning to its young in the nest with a fish in its talons. There are coastal trail connections from the Caspar Uplands trail to both the north and south, though it requires a little ingenuity to find them- to the north is Caspar Headlands State Park, and to the south is Point Cabrillo Lighthouse State Historic Park. If you look at the map, you should be able to figure out how to extend your hike a little longer to include one of these other beautiful state parks.

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Caspar Uplands Trail trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    Trail Latitude (X): 39.360

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.816

    Mapping: View vicinity on Google Maps (see Trail Map above or Trail Data Sheet PDF under the Information tab for a more precise map)

    Point Cabrillo Drive Mile Marker (north): 2.25

    Point Cabrillo Drive Mile Marker (south): 1.5

    Trail Length: 1.3 miles

  • No cell phone receptionThis location has no cellular reception. Please plan accordingly. We recommend that you download the PDF trail data sheet below to your device prior to your trip to this location.

    The Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park is a real gem. It is operated by the Point Cabrillo Lightkeepers Association (PCLK) under a concessionaire contract with State Parks. There is a lot to explore here- three buildings including the Lighthouse with its museum and gift shop, the First Assistant Light Keeper’s House, and the Marine Science exhibit with a 270-gallon salt water aquarium in the restored blacksmith/workshop. These exhibits are open from 11am -4pm year-round for visitors to enjoy. The Lighthouse is a working Federal Aid to Navigation with lens tours offered (for a fee) 8 times a year (see the website www.pointcabrillo.org for dates). These tours allow visitors the rare opportunity to see the brilliant original Fresnel lens up close. Whale watching from this Point is particularly good from November through April during the Eastern Pacific Grey Whale migrations between the Arctic and Baja Mexico. The water offshore of Point Cabrillo is a Marine Protected Area, and the offshore rocks are part of the Coastal Monument. The coastal trail network here extends north to Frolic Cove, which is where the clipper brig “Frolic” wrecked in 1850, leading to the awareness of the huge redwoods on the Mendocino Coast, bringing loggers and new settlers to an area already inhabited by indigenous groups including the Mitom Pomo. A short walk north on the county road will take adventurous hikers to the Caspar Uplands Trail, which they can use to access nearby Caspar Headlands State Beach.

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Point Cabrillo Lighthouse Trail trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    Trail Latitude (X): 39.349

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.813

    Mapping: View vicinity on Google Maps (see Trail Map above or Trail Data Sheet PDF under the Information tab for a more precise map)

    Point Cabrillo Drive Mile Marker (north): 1.5

    Point Cabrillo Drive Mile Marker (south): 1.5

    Trail Length: 2 miles

  • In 2002, Mendocino Land Trust completed the purchase and transfer of 7,334 acres around Big River to State Parks. This includes a wonderful haul road that travels about 10 miles east to connect Big River Beach with Mendocino Woodlands State Park. Much of this haul road is multi-use and available to equestrians, bikers, hikers, runners, and people in wheelchairs. Along its length, there are lovely views of Big River estuary, which hosts birds, seals, otters, and other wildlife. It is a wonderful trail where you can walk side-by-side with friends and family, enjoying the quiet beauty of the Mendocino Coast.

     

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Big River Trail trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    Trail Latitude (X): 39.303

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.785

    Mapping: View vicinity on Google Maps (see Trail Map above or Trail Data Sheet PDF under the Information tab for a more precise map)

    Highway One Mile Marker (north end): 50.56

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 50

    Trail Length: 10 miles

    There’s much human history here; Big River was dammed and logged extensively in the latter part of the 1800s and throughout the 1900s. Today, Mendocino Land Trust and California State Parks collaborate to complete watershed restoration projects that improve fish and wildlife habitat here, as well as remediate some of the damage done by past logging. There are many interpretive panels along the haul road and a lovely bench dedicated to the memory of Matthew Coleman, who coordinated stewardship of Big River as part of his work at the Mendocino Land Trust.

  • No cell phone receptionThis location has no cellular reception. Please plan accordingly. We recommend that you download the PDF trail data sheet below to your device prior to your trip to this location.

    This short trail offers fantastic views of the town of Mendocino to the north. 

    This is a great place for picnics, “plein-air” painting, sunset viewing, and getting married. There’s a bench at the northern part of the public area, dedicated to Grail Dawson and Betty Barber, longtime supporters of the Mendocino Land Trust, the organization that manages the site. This is the first public access area in California that was opened by a nonprofit in a public access easement on private property- pretty cool!

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Mendocino Bay Viewpoint trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    To get here, head south of Mendocino Village on Highway One, go over the Big River bridge, and take your first right onto Brewery Gulch Road. From the south, go west off Highway One opposite the Comptche-Ukiah Road turnoff. Park on the pullout on this road’s eastern shoulder, and look for a brown and white management sign on a wooden fence across the street to the west.

    Trail Latitude (X): 39.2993

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.7947

    Mapping: View vicinity on Google Maps (see Trail Map above or Trail Data Sheet PDF under the Information tab for a more precise map)

    Highway One Mile Marker (north end): 50.17

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 49.84

    Trail Length: 0.25 miles

  • No cell phone receptionThis location has no cellular reception. Please plan accordingly. We recommend that you download the PDF trail data sheet below to your device prior to your trip to this location.

    Spring Ranch is found the northwest corner of Van Damme State Park. This is a very lovely spot, offering spectacular views of the Pacific, and trails that wind above an interesting rocky intertidal shelf. There is good wildlife viewing here, especially at low tide, when the seals haul out onto offshore rocks, sun themselves, and rest. Along the trail, there are many memorial benches on which to rest, talk and enjoy the view from this wild place. 

      

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Spring Ranch Trail trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    There are two main entry points for the Spring Ranch trails at both the north and south- west of Gordon Lane on the north end, and near Peterson Street and the inns at the south end. 

    Trail Latitude (X): 39.285

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.794

    Mapping: View vicinity on Google Maps (see Trail Map above or Trail Data Sheet PDF under the Information tab for a more precise map)

    Highway One Mile Marker (north end): 49.04

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 48.5

    Trail Length: 1.25 miles

    Spring Ranch also has several iconic and historic barns that are visible from Highway One.

  • No cell phone receptionThis location has no cellular reception. Please plan accordingly. We recommend that you download the PDF trail data sheet below to your device prior to your trip to this location.

    This trail is about 0.5 miles long, to the awesome Little River Blowhole and beyond to the bluff edge. The Little River Blowhole is actually a punchbowl or sinkhole and is an actively eroding area; almost every winter, full grown trees fall into the abyss. Hikers and leashed dogs are permitted, and there is an interpretive panel telling the story of the geology of this cool feature. The trail winds though a Bishop pine forest, around the north side of the punchbowl/sinkhole, and out to views of the coast, ocean, and offshore islands. The trail is managed by the Mendocino Land Trust.

    This punchbowl /sinkhole is very dangerous- watch your step on this trail, and don’t try to climb into the punchbowl, as a fall would likely be fatal. There is also a lot of poison oak just off the entire trail- which is another reason to stay on it, and out of the punchbowl.

     

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Little River Blowhole trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    There is limited parking west of Highway One at Little River Cemetery (cemetery parking takes precedence), or east of Highway One on the south shoulder of Little River Airport Road.

    Trail Latitude (X): 39.2690

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.7873

    Mapping: View vicinity on Google Maps (see Trail Map above or Trail Data Sheet PDF under the Information tab for a more precise map)

    Highway One Mile Marker (north end): 47.7

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 47.5

    Trail Length: 0.5 miles

  • No cell phone receptionThis location has no cellular reception. Please plan accordingly. We recommend that you download the PDF trail data sheet below to your device prior to your trip to this location.

    Greenwood Creek State Beach, which is west of downtown Elk, offers beach walks and kayaking. There is a lot of interesting driftwood washed up on this beach, and a large parking area with an outhouse and picnic area at the beginning of the trail down the hill. The views of offshore rocks looking south from Elk are some of the most beautiful coastal landscapes on the Mendocino Coast, and these rocks are west of Greenwood Creek State Beach. Long ago, this was a logging port and the many historic photographs at the Visitor Center in Elk offer a window into the rich and interesting past found here.  

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Greenwood Creek State Beach trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    Trail Latitude (X): 39.130

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.718

    Mapping: View vicinity on Google Maps (see Trail Map above or Trail Data Sheet PDF under the Information tab for a more precise map)

    Highway One Mile Marker (north end): 34

    Trail Length: 0.5 miles