Coastal Trail Guide

Mendocino Land Trust

Working with you to conserve the land
while there's still time...

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Southern 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.

  • Manchester State Park features a beach, sand dunes, and flat grasslands, with nearly 18,000 feet of ocean frontage. The beach line curves gently to form a "catch basin" for sea debris, which accounts for the volume of driftwood found here. Five miles of gentle, sandy beach stretches southward towards the Point Arena Lighthouse. 

    One of the main attractions is the excellent steelhead fishing in the park’s two streams, Brush Creek and Alder Creek.  Please check with the Department of Fish and Game for seasonal closures and restrictions at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations

    The park features a variety of coastal wildflowers, including sea pinks, poppies, lupines, baby blue eyes and blue irises. The park provides habitat for tundra swans. The San Andreas Fault runs into the sea at the park.

    Manchester State Beach trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

  • 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 is the first mainland-based unit of the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM). Before this, the CCNM consisted of only the offshore rocks and islands off the California Coast. 

    This Unit offers gorgeous views to the north and south, great hiking paths, opportunities to see migrating whales, and an abundance of birds and other wildlife on and off shore. The Point Arena Lighthouse and Garcia River are northern neighbors.

    These lands were either donated to, or purchased by, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The land donations and purchases were made possible by many generous grants and contributions by agencies, non-government organizations and individuals. A “Friends of Point Arena-Stornetta National Monument” group is currently forming- for more information, please visit pointarenastornetta.org.

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Point Arena Stornetta Unit trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    Trail Latitude (X): 38.9368

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.7204

    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): 17

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 15.94

    Trail Length: 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.

    This stunning preserve, south of Point Arena, is now open to the public. Mendocino Land Trust (MLT) completed construction of a parking lot and 2.2-miles of trail in 2017. This 73-acre preserve is home to the endangered Point Arena Mountain Beaver and several rare plants, as well as a creek (which is recovering from cattle grazing) and Bishop pine forest. There are spectacular ocean views from very high white cliffs on the property- these cliffs are very steep, making it essential to stay on the trail. Now that the trail is open to the public, MLT will host monthly volunteer stewardship workdays to maintain the trail, pick up trash, and remove invasive plant species. If you would like to help out, please contact MLT, or check out this beautiful video of the property before your visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN7vDu0JWss

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Pelican Bluffs Trail trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    Trail Latitude (X): 38.895

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.684

    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): 14.3

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 13.5

    Trail Length: 2.2 miles

  • From Moat Creek:

    The scenic Moat Creek Trail begins at the gravel parking lot on Highway 1, near mile marker 12.89. This trail is owned by the Coastal Conservancy and managed by Moat Creek Management Agency. From the gravel parking lot, you can walk a short trail to the beach or climb the steps to the bluff for a stunning view of the ocean and coastal prairie. To reach Bowling Ball Beach, follow the Moat Creek Trail south along the bluffs. The trail will drop down to a beach at Ross Creek. Continue to walk south on the beach to reach the famous Bowling Balls at Schooner Gulch State Park.

    From Schooner Gulch State Park:

    Parking is limited to the southbound side of Highway 1, near mile marker 11.41. If you pass the mile marker, please do not try to make a U-turn, there is a safe location to turn around 1/3 of a mile down the road. The roads are narrow and winding with limited visibility, making a U-turn in this area is dangerous and illegal. After safely finding a parking spot, you will see the Schooner Gulch trailhead on the west side of Highway 1. At the trailhead, there are two options - the southern branch of the trail will lead you to Schooner Gulch and the beach, the northern branch of the trail will take you to Bowling Ball Beach. The Bowling Ball Beach trail will lead through a meadow to the bluffs, then down a set of stairs onto the beach. The trail and staircase down to Bowling Ball Beach have been partially eroded from years of harsh winters. Scrambling is sometimes necessary to reach the beach, so please be careful and watch your footing.

    • Geology:

    The best time to visit Bowling Ball Beach is at low tide when the "Bowling Balls" are visible. The natural “Bowling Balls” are popular with curious nature lovers and photographers alike. During low tides, the waves pull back to reveal a natural curiosity- hundreds of rounded stones in tidy rows on a bed of solid rock. Uniform in size, shape, and spacing- the boulders of Bowling Ball Beach are geological formations called “concretions”.

    Concretions are small pockets of extra tough stone formed inside sedimentary rock millions of years ago. The waves of our ocean crashed and carved away at the softer sedimentary rock at the shoreline for millions of years, breaking down all but the toughest parts. The concretions were left behind and perfectly polished by the waves. If you look at the bluffs on the beach, you can actually see some of the “bowling ball” concretions peeking out of the sedimentary rock of the cliff.

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Moat Creek Trail to Bowling Ball Beach trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    Trail Latitude (X): 38.882

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.673

    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): 13

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 12.88

    Trail Length: 1.5 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 Hearn Gulch Trail, located in the southern Mendocino Coast’s "banana belt," offers lovely spring wildflowers and spectacular views to the north and south. A short hike offers access to a small pocket beach at Hearn Gulch, which is a fairly easy walk with a short but steep set of rough stairs leading down to the beach. This blufftop overlook was saved from development in 1999 by the Friends of Schooner Gulch, and is now stewarded for conservation and public access by the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC). More information on RCLC can be found at rclc.org.

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Hearn Gulch Trail trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    The Hearn Gulch Trail, located in the southern Mendocino Coast’s "banana belt," offers lovely spring wildflowers and spectacular views to the north and south. A short hike offers access to a small pocket beach at Hearn Gulch, which is a fairly easy walk with a short but steep set of rough stairs leading down to the beach. 

    Trail Latitude (X): 38.8508

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.6474

    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): 10.52

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 10

    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.

    Cooks Beach is one of the few public sandy beaches on the southern Mendocino Coast. There aren’t a lot of places to park at the trailhead, but two pretty trails offer blufftop views of the Pacific Ocean or a trail through a Bishop pine forest down to a large, sandy pocket beach. Leashed dogs are welcome here, and this is a great family beach. The bluff trail leads out to the Bonham Overlook. This trail is managed by the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC) and more information can be found on this organization's website, rclc.org.

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Cooks Beach Trail trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    Trail Latitude (X): 38.79

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.56

    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): 3.22

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 3.14

    Trail Length: 0.25 miles

  • The Gualala Bluff Trail is a beautiful trail created and maintained by volunteers and the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC). It affords a wonderful view of the Gualala River Estuary/Lagoon, Gualala Point Park, and the Pacific Ocean. It is an excellent place to view wildlife including passing whales and river otters that haul out on the beach or are seen in the Gualala River. There are many sea birds such as pelicans, gulls, and cormorants with each seasonal change.  The trail is nicely maintained with native plants bordering it and benches at a number of sites where visitors can sit and admire the view, eat lunch, meditate and relax. Sunsets are great. Viewing the Gualala River break through to the ocean with the first winter rains is a real treat. Winter wave watching is popular as is spring wildflower viewing. The trail is just a few minutes walk from downtown Gualala and can be accessed listed from north to south from the Surf Motel driveway at the monument sign or between the Breakers Inn/Sandbar Restaurant. The trail goes behind three motels/inns and other commercial buildings and follows the Gualala River. Parts of it are relatively flat and other parts more challenging. For more information, please visit the RCLC webpage at rclc.org.

    Download Trail Data Sheet [PDF]

    Gualala Bluff Trail trail map

    Click or tap to view the full-size map.

    There are two ways to access the trail from the town of Gualala, listed here from north to south: (1) from the Surf Motel driveway at the monument sign, (2) at the Breakers Inn/Sandbar Restaurant. 

    Trail Latitude (X): 38.768

    Trail Longitude (Y): -123.53

    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): 0.7

    Highway One Mile Marker (south end): 0.6

    Trail Length: 0.4 miles