Surprise Factor

Russian Gulch Hike-in Beach

Some people don't like surprises, but we're guessing even those people will like the surprise hidden beach at Russian Gulch. While you can drive by and see multiple beach options in these parts, most cars zip right past the locked gate on Highway 1. That might be because the humble sign reading Russian Gulch doesn't also say, "For a fantastic beach, walk this way!" But you're going to want to walk because there is a fantastic beach a third of a mile in, accessed by a trail through the forest. The canopy cover is thick and the path is straightforward. Another surprise comes at the end of the trail, and requires a sense of adventure … plus a willingness to get a bit wet. There's a relatively wide creek that you'll have to wade across to reach the main beach. Lots of people do it, and it's totally manageable if you choose your route carefully (or you might get thigh-deep wet). However you get there, the hike-in is well worth it. You'll arrive at an expanse of sand bookended by 30-foot tall cliffs and decorated in driftwood. Bring a blanket and something good to read—you won't want to leave anytime soon (unless the wind is howling; go in the morning for the best chance of less gust).

The turnoff/roadside parking for Russian Gulch is 3.25 miles north of Jenner on Hwy. 1. Park on the west side of the road without blocking the gate. Walk to the back of the parking lot and follow the trail to the beach. Dog-friendly!

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