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.)

woman camping at Salt Point State Park on Sonoma Coast

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)!

woman hiking at Salt Point State Park Sonoma Coast

waves crashing at Salt Point State park

woman hiking at Salt Point State Park Sonoma Coast

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.

shell at Salt Point State Park Sonoma Coast

woman hiking at Salt Point State Park Sonoma Coast

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.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Berkeley's Backyard Waterfall

    Tucked among the hillside homes of North Berkeley is a winding stairway that leads to the “secret” entrance of a Narnia-like canyon with a 40-foot waterfall.

    View
  2. The Carson Show

    Carson Falls is ready for primetime. This three-tiered, 100-foot stunner is hidden back in a canyon outside of Fairfax and reached on a 3.25-mile (round-trip) hike. The start of th

    View
  3. Falls of the Wild

    Through the redwoods you’ll go on this adventurous 9-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. This hike is loaded with charms, but the big riches come from viewing Maple Falls, a 30-foot stunner that comes to life after rains.

    View
  4. Hood's New Trail

    Tucked just on the edge of Sonoma Valley near Santa Rosa, Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve has a brand-new trail leading up to a brilliant picnic spot with a panorama of Sonoma Valley all the way out to the ocean.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Can You Keep a Secret?

    The Southern Oregon Coast's Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor between Gold Beach and Brookings has so many sights to see, it’s hard to know where to spend your time. We like this trio of suggestions because you can do them as a three-in-a-row jackpot of coastal wonders.

    View
  2. Secret Trail at Torrey Pines

    Find cliff climbs, sandy strolls, and secret hikes throughout “America’s finest sandy stretch" at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego County.

    View
  3. Ojai There!

    If a substantive and super scenic bike ride is right in your wheelhouse, do the 30-mile (round-trip) Ventura-to-Ojai bike path that begins (and ends) near the Ventura shoreline, pit stopping in delightful Ojai for food and drinks.

    View
  4. Fountain to the Falls

    There are three ways to reach the lovely Monrovia Canyon Falls, but only one of them is worthy of being named a good challenge!

    View