Head, Sonoma Coast State Beach,
California State Parks,
3 mile partial loop on Sonoma Coast coastal bluffs near Bodega Bay.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 3.0 mile partial loop hike is easy, with about 300 feet in elevation change. There is one short easy uphill stretch, and the rest of the hike is nearly flat. Elevation ranges from 90 to 275 feet. You can split this hike into two, shorter ones -- a 1.1 mile out and back to the overlook, or a 1.8 mile loop through the headlands.
1 1/2 hours.
Nice year round.
From Bodega Bay (Sonoma County), turn west onto Eastshore Road. Drive about 0.3 mile on Eastshore to a stop sign, then turn right onto Bay Flat Road. Drive about 3.4 miles, initially along the harbor (where the road seamlessly turns into Westshore Road), then after a sharp hairpin turn, uphill to an unsigned fork. Bear right and continue 0.2 mile to the parking lot.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Stores, gas, and restaurants in Bodega Bay. No camping at Bodega Head, but there are several campgrounds close by, including Doran Park, the Sonoma State Beach campgrounds, near Bodega Bay and Salmon Creek.
No entrance or parking fees. Large gravel parking lot. No designated handicapped parking, and trails are poorly suited to wheelchairs and strollers. Vault toilets at edge of parking lot. No drinking water or maps at trailhead -- maps are available for $1 from the Salmon Creek Ranger Station, about 1.5 miles north of the Eastshore Road turnoff, on the west side of CA 1. Nearest phone at Bodega Harbor. There is no public transportation available to this trailhead.
Park hours are 8 a.m. to sunset. No dogs, horses, or bikes permitted on the trail.
The Official Story:
CSP's Sonoma Coast State Beach page
Park office 707-875-3483
Use AAA's San Francisco Bay Region map to get there.
Sonoma Coast State Beach map (pdf)
Map and accompanying article from Santa Rose Press Democrat
Afoot and Afield: San Francisco Bay Area, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a great map and descriptions of a Bodega Head hike.
101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area, by Ann Marie Brown (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and descriptions of a featured hike.
The Hiker's hip Pocket Guide to Sonoma County, by Bob Lorentzen (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and trail descriptions.
North Bay Trails, by David Weintraub (order this book from Amazon.com) has a simple map and trail descriptions.
Bodega Head in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos from this hike
1 runs directly along the coastline for about 16
miles from Bodega Bay to Jenner, permitting easy admiration and exploration
of the ocean and beaches from many pullouts and parking lots along the
road. Most of this shoreline is protected land, managed by the California
State Park system, and the series of beaches and bluffs is collectively
known as the Sonoma Coast State Beaches. The "beach" has campgrounds,
and plenty of shoreline access, but there are only three park units with
substantial hiking options. Kortum Trail
runs along the bluff from Wright's Beach to Goat Rock Beach; a network
of trails wander sand dunes between Bodega Harbor and South Salmon Creek
Beach; and at Bodega Head, a trail loops around high headlands and climbs
to an overlook (the dunes trails and Bodega Head Trail do connect, but
most people hike them separately). Bodega Head is by far the most popular
trail, even though it is a bit hard to find -- once you turn off CA 1,
no signs directing visitors to the trailhead, which is nearly 4 miles
from the highway. This trailhead is likely so popular because it offers
dazzling ocean views from a trail extending north and south along the
bluff, as well as access to a small sandy beach. In spring, the wildflower
display is wonderful, and sea breezes usually keep this part of Sonoma
County considerably cool even when the rest of the Bay Area is baking
under summer heat. Bring binoculars in winter, and scan the waters for