Sweet and Salty

Camp on the Sonoma Coast at Salt Point State Park

woman on rocks at Salt Point State Park Sonoma Coast

One of the most beautiful and cozy spots for coastal camping 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, just note that 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. (Gray whales migrate south from November through January, and then return again from February to April. So if you go during this season, keep an eye out for distant spouts!)

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. Woman hiking the Coastal Trail in the Marin Headlands

    Three Beaches to the Wind

    This beautiful 7-mile (round-trip) coastal hike in the Marin Headlands connects three beaches: Muir Beach, Pirates Cove, and Tennessee Cove.

    View
  2. Damme Good Camping

    Just a few miles south of the town of Mendocino is one of the best hike-in (or bike-in) campgrounds on the California coast. Van Damme State Park follows Little River inland from the ocean, and the nine first-come, first-served environmental campsites can be reached via the Fern Canyon Trail.

    View
  3. Hike Mount Tamalpais Matt Davis Steep Ravine Dipsea to Stinson Beach

    Tam Slam!

    This 8-mile (round-trip) hike is a pure classic, with redwoods, water-flows, and soaring views of the coastline. Oh yeah, and that ladder!

    View
  4. Calaveras Giants

    Contending as some of the tallest, mightiest, and most muscular spectacles in the state are the hulking (and beautiful) trees of Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Hit the trails to witness spectacular groves of giant sequoia redwoods.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Best of the Summer Fests!

    Outdoor winery events featuring films, food, wine, live music, and Sonoma’s cinematic scenery in the background: now that’s a blockbuster summer weekend!

    View
  2. Hiker on Proctor Mountain Loop Trail in Sun Valley Idaho

    Storied Trail

    If ever there was a fairy trail, this 6.8-mile lollipop loop on Sun Valley’s Proctor Mountain is it. The Proctor Mountain Trail is a storied route in more ways than one, starting with its tranquil oasis memorial for a famous writer, Ernest Hemingway.

    View
  3. Two bikers on the Wood River Trail in Sun Valley Idaho

    Two Wheels to Zen

    The family-friendly Wood River Trail goes over an historic bridge, past art sculptures and ranch-roaming horses, all amid sprawling green valley and a mountainous backdrop. Roll out from the Farmers Market at River Run Lodge and pedal the 8-mile (round-trip) ride to Sun Valley’s Sawtooth Botanical Garden.

    View
  4. This Part of the Backbone

    The Ray Miller Trail comprises the final stretch of the Backbone Trail in Malibu’s Point Mugu State Park, and makes an idyllic moderate beach hike during spring and early summer.

    View