GOAT Coastal Hike + Sunset
Hike Kortum Trail on the Sonoma Coast and Sunset at Goat Rock
The Sonoma Coast seems to have more beaches than San Francisco has hills; after Bodega Bay the choices go on for 13 glorious miles. For an easygoing beach-hopping hike with plenty of dramatic scenery, connect Shell Beach to Blind Beach along the beautiful blufftop Kortum Trail.
It’s 4 miles (round-trip) across boardwalks and a trail that meanders above sandy coves and sea stacks sculpted by crashing waves. Raptors like to cruise this coast too—from red-tailed hawks to great horned owls and white-tailed kites—along with brown pelicans.
After 1.3 miles you’ll see a huge heap of rocks slightly inland; it’s actually an ancient sea stack that adventurous climbers scramble up for bragging rights and banner views. For similarly ahhhmazing vistas, when the trail veers inland up and over a hill, detour up to the apex for a picnic break and some photos. Continue to Blind Beach to admire more coastline and the famous Arched Rock.
GOAT SUNSET BONUS: Dozens of dreamy pocket beaches pop up all along the Sonoma Coast. But the most photogenic beach of them all? Goat Rock Beach, a sub-unit of Sonoma Coast State Beach in Jenner. Sunsets can be some of the West’s best.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: In the episode "Secrets of Sonoma County" the Weekend Sherpa team discuss their adventures on the Sonoma Coast including hiking the Kortum Trail and catching a sunset at Goat Rock Beach.
The wide, accessible, and soft sandy beach is located right where the Russian River flows into the Pacific. The shoreline is misted with salty sea, and driftwood adds drama. Spread a blanket and stay through the golden hour. As the sun sinks, brown pelicans by the hundreds flock and surf the sea-breeze sky, floating across the backdrop of the tangerine sun as the sky slowly layers into lines of pink—from fuchsia to raspberry to pastel rose. The backdrop to it all is Arched Rock, a hulking sea castle with a huge gape that’s an icon of the area.
BONUS FOOD & WINE PATIO: Whether you want a latte, sandwich, or just some riverside lounging, Café Aquatica and Tasting by the Sea Wine Bar (10439 Highway 1, Jenner) are the places. Set right on the Russian River and overlooking Goat Rock Beach, the café is rustic originality with good coffee, burritos, grilled cheese sandwiches, and all kinds of other casual coastal comfort foods.
Tasting by the Sea, with specialty food and over 30 wines from four local winemakers (plus organic juice elixirs, cider, and beer) stays open until sundown, making it a beautiful spot to toast the sunset. For dinner (and a romantic cottage stay!) there’s nearby River’s End Restaurant & Inn.
To hike Kortum Trail, park at Shell Beach and follow the sign for Kortum Trail. No dogs on Kortum Trail.
Goat Rock Beach is accessed off of Hwy. 1 just south of the Russian River in Jenner. Parts of Goat Rock Beach are dog-friendly (on-site signage indicates where dogs are allowed).
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