Sweet and Salty
Camp on the Sonoma Coast at Salt Point State Park
Camping in the mountains may have come to a close (unless you’re the intrepid snow camper), but coastal camping … well that’s game on! One of the most beautiful and cozy spots to park yourself is on the Sonoma Coast at Salt Point State Park. Located on Highway 1 about 18 miles north of Jenner, Salt Point is wild and scenic. Inland is home to acres of grasslands and forests of bishop pines, mixed evergreens, and second-growth redwoods. On the coastal side, it’s rocky and rollicking. The thundering surf, especially in fall and winter, pounds against the rocks and sea stacks, making for some splash-tastic bluffside hiking. Reserve a campsite at Gerstle Cove, where 30 spots sit nicely spread apart in a forest area atop the coastal bluffs (Woodside Campground is on the east side of Highway 1 and has 79 sites, but it’s closed from November until the spring.)
Instead of car camping you could call it car glamping for the overall quiet setting, sites with sturdy picnic tables and fire pits (call ahead to check about fire bans, see italics below), plentiful water spigots, and, yes, bathrooms kept in respectable shape (important)!
Sunsets here aren’t to be missed on clear days: walk the short half-mile trail that leaves from the lower parking area at Salt Point State Park. The hour before sunset is a bird bonanza of pelicans, cormorants, and gulls, gliding and diving and creating beautiful aerial formations not even the Blue Angels can compete with. Keep an eye out for distant spouts. Gray whales migrate south from November through January, and then return again from February to April.
During the day, hike the Salt Point Trail, a mostly flat trail hugging the coast for 1.5 miles from Salt Point’s lower parking area to Stump Beach. (You can also reach the trailhead from the campground, which adds about half a mile one-way.) Bring a picnic and blanket and enjoy the quiet of this classic Northern California pocket beach. Salty and sweet indeed!
Call ahead to find out if campfires are allowed (707-847-3221); don’t rely on website info, which isn’t updated regularly. The campground is dog-friendly, however surrounding hiking trails are not.
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