Just Dune It!

Camping at Manchester State Park in Mendocino

Coastal wildflowers are still going strong at Manchester State Park in Mendocino County, where dune-top hiking trails colored in baby blue eyes and purple lupine dance across the nearly 5 miles of undulating sands. Go on a coastal hike and spend the night camping just down the road. First-come, first-served Manchester State Beach Campground has 41 sites nestled in grassland, making a perfect seaside launch pad for traversing the wildflower-speckled paths paralleling the sea. Distant farmland and flocks of sheep lend pastoral charm as views sweep south to Point Arena. Take the Davis Wetlands Trail north from the campground for a 5-mile (round-trip) coastal hike to the beach’s northern boundary at Alder Creek.

The path meanders through dunes and fields past Davis Lake Pond before monumental piles of shipwrecked driftwood mark the spot. Unleash your furry friend (dogs may roam free!), scan for steelhead lurking below, and wave goodbye to the northernmost section of the San Andreas Fault as it crosses from land into the sea.

manchestercamp4-image-jpeg

BONUS: A 6-mile drive takes you to Point Arena Lighthouse and its 145 spiraling steps that lead up to beautiful panoramic ocean vistas.

Manchester State Park Campground is on the Mendocino County coast, 6 miles north of Point Arena on Hwy. 1. It is open Friday through Sunday only on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations. Camping $25/night; no day-use fee. Day parking located past the campground at the end of Kinney Rd. Dogs allowed on leash, and they can roam free at Alder Creek. Davis Wetlands Trail extends 2.5 miles north from the campground to Alder Creek.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. 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. Muir Woods Through the Backdoor

    A backdoor entrance into Muir Woods? Hike a tranquil trail that starts in Mount Tamalpais State Park and quietly leads into Muir Woods, letting you avoid the busyness of the main parking area.

    View
  3. Cross It Off Your Bucket List

    Crosstown Trail San Francisco may be one of the most beautiful city walks in America, passing through less-visited nooks and crannies while also taking in greatest hits, including mosaic stairways.

    View
  4. Yosemite Magic Trick

    Yosemite’s High Country is magical and without crowds. At a lofty 8,700 feet, Tuolumne Meadows is one of the best trailheads for hiking or backpacking a land of smooth granite domes, high alpine meadows, jagged peaks, and sapphire lakes. Here's a 3-night backpacking itinerary...

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Sea Change

    Right in time for the balmy fall days, the crowds have left and Monterey Bay Aquarium is at its shoulder season best. Fewer people means relaxing with more room to roam and enjoy the animals, exhibits, and nearby outdoors for biking, hiking, and beaches.

    View
  2. High Sierra Lake Hop

    Situated just north of Yosemite is a High Sierra wonderland that gets a fraction of the crowds and is a fantastic destination for backpacking. The Emigrant Wilderness is 113,000 acres of granite ridges, wildflower-strewn meadows, and cobalt lakes.

    View
  3. Thanks, Annie!

    Annie’s Canyon Trail in the 1,000-acre San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Solana Beach includes the most unique quarter-mile you’ve ever maneuvered—through a sandstone slot canyon!

    View
  4. Glam Paddling in Long Beach

    Sea kayaking doesn’t get any more glamorous than paddling the storybook canals around Long Beach’s Naples Island! You thread your way through calm waterways surrounded by luxury ho

    View