Guerneville Hikes Kayaking Hotels


Weekend at Guernie's

Just a few miles from the coast and along the Russian River, Guerneville is a hub for redwood adventures, water discoveries, and go-with-the-flow relaxation. Guerneville's got it!

Armstrong Redwoods Hike

Ancient Secret

Some things just get better with age: fine wine, gourmet cheese, Betty White, and California's coast redwoods—the tallest living things on earth and the marquee attraction at Guerneville's 805-acre Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Combine all of these aging delights (OK, not Betty) on a less-traveled 2.2-mile (round-trip) hike up Armstrong Redwood's East Ridge Trail. (See the TIP below for picnic provisions!) Near the start of the hike, a sign reads, "Steep Trail,"—a slight exaggeration for this moderate 400-foot climb that offers a canopy of cool shade, plenty of redwoods, and no crowds. When you reach a lone bench, follow the signs down to the picnic area. Here, young and slender redwoods intermix with their beefier ancestors—up to 1,400 years old! Wander over to the picnic tables by trickling Austin Creek and break for lunch. Finish the hike on the Pioneer Trail passing through a final grove of redwoods.

TIP: Pick up picnic provisions at Big Bottom Market, 2 miles from Armstrong Redwoods. We recommend the Parson Jones turkey sandwich, named after the tallest tree (310 feet!) at Armstrong. Its Havarti cheese and mouth-watering jalapeño jam pair nicely with the Russian River Valley pinot noir.

Parking for the East Ridge Trail is free, located in a lot just outside the park's official entrance gate at 17000 Armstrong Woods Rd. in Guerneville. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to one hour after sunset. Big Bottom Market is located in downtown Guerneville at 16228 Main St., and is open Wed.–Sun., 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. No dogs on trails.

Kayak Jenner

Simply Sunsational

Monterey and Point Reyes might get all the kayaking fanfare, but Jenner's river estuary more than holds its own. In fact, it punches above its weight at sunset. WaterTreks EcoTours, just 20 minutes west of Guerneville, offers sunset kayaking tours combining exploration and relaxation. Launch upstream through the brackish blend where the Russian River meets the Pacific and giant sea stacks rise off the rugged Sonoma coast. Dock on Penny Island for a stroll through high grasses, exploring the remains of an abandoned dairy farm and keeping an eye out for the great blue heron's double-wishbone footprint. Next, you'll paddle to Goat Rock Beach and hike up the sand dunes to a view of mammoth Goat Rock and the bending Arched Rock, where the final scene from The Goonies was filmed. Now it's time to hop back into your kayak and paddle west toward the edge of the estuary for the main event: the sinking sun casts gold, yellow, and red bands across the water as harbor seals play peekaboo just a few feet from you. Sealed with a sunset. 
TIP: For an extra fee, you can arrange to bring along a masseuse or a Pilates or tai chi instructor for a tailor-made adventure. Or, ask to include Nature Based Meditation, led by founder Suki Waters. Unguided rentals are also available for sunset, but kayakers must be back before dark.
WaterTreks EcoTours, 707-865-2249, is located at 10438 Hwy. 1 in Jenner By the Sea. Call ahead for reservations and pricing information. A two-person guided sunset tour runs $90/person, but prices decrease incrementally as the group size expands. No dogs.

Boon Hotel and Spa

Boon Bliss

It's great to feel the burn, but sometimes you just want to kick back, relax, and smell the redwoods. Make it happen at Boon Hotel & Spa, located half a mile from downtown Guerneville. Named after owner Crista Luedtke's rescue pup, Boon, the 14-room boutique respite blends contemporary and rustic charms and is just minutes from the ocean, excellent wineries, and Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. Bluegrass tunes greet you upon arrival, and a featherbed wrapped in organic cotton linens feels like sinking into cloud nine. Most rooms are furnished with a wood-burning fireplace. Refreshment is offered at the outdoor pool, encircled by towering redwoods and an honor-system bar. And the fireside hot tub can heat things up. Cruiser bikes are also on hand for Boon's guests. Pedal over to Johnson's Beach & Resort near downtown Guerneville and watch the fly-fishers flicking their lines among dense redwoods. Or cycle downtown to the Boon Hotel's sister restaurant, Boon Eat & Drink. Specialties include a grilled romaine salad and the Boon Burger, made from grass-fed beef and topped with Fiscalini aged white cheddar. Boon-yah!

Boon Hotel & Spa is located at 14711 Armstrong Woods in Guerneville. Several rooms welcome dogs (off the beds), but check ahead to make sure a dog-friendly room is vacant. Boon Eat & Drink is located in downtown Guerneville at 16248 Main St. Johnson's Beach & Resort is located at 16241 First St. and is operational mid-May through early October, 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. Dogs are allowed on the front patio at Boon Eat & Drink but not at Johnson's Beach.

Play it Again, Tam!

Mount Tam is fantastic anytime of year, but over the next few weeks there's also some beautiful music in the air. Set almost at the top of Mount Tam, the Mountain Play is a 99-year tradition that brings the best of Broadway to a spectacular outdoor setting. The Baymazing scenery adds extra magic to the spectacle on stage. This weekend through June 17, The Music Man takes center stage with the talents of professional local performers. Pack your own picnic and a bottle of wine (or buy it all on the mountain) and hop on a free shuttle taking you to the historic venue. Then kick back and relish one of the best ways to spend an afternoon in Marin. Panoramic scenery, food, wine, music, friends, and fun: The Mountain Play delivers the ultimate fresh-air experience. Get your tickets for The Music Man before they sell out. Tamtastic!

TIP: Want to take a hike after the show? Volunteers from the Mountain Play will take your stuff down the mountain, freeing you up for an optional 6-mile hike down to town. Music to your ears!

The Music Man plays May 20 and 27, and June 3, 10, 16, and 17.

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