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Gualala Point

Gualala Point Regional Park

June 6th, 2004

1.5 miles
65 vertical feet
Total Time: 0:46

Rating: 6/10

Directions: From Gualala (Mendocino County), take Highway 1 south for less than a mile. Turn right into Gualala Point Regional Park, and drive to the visitor's center. Parking is $4, self-paid at the entrance.   View Driving Map

If you are staying in the area, Gualala Point is definitely a place you should consider visiting. The length of the hike and size of the park doesn't justify a higher rating, but it's definitely pretty.

From the visitor's center, there's a nice view of the Gualala River, and the buildings of Gualala itself across the river. There's a paved path leading west toward the ocean bluffs. Instead, we took the first right fork, onto a dirt path leading down toward the beach. This path roughly parallels the river (though high above it and some distance away). Coastal winds whipped at us as we shortly joined a paved path. Just after that, we walked onto the sand and onto the beach.

Bluffs seen from the beach

At this time of year, the beach at Gualala Point is no place to sun bathe. The winds were constantly blowing sand at us. Amazingly, Nathan was oblivious to it as usual, sleeping through the whole experience as he sat on my back. I took some photographs of the bluffs to the south (on which some of the rest of the trail is routed) before heading back onto the trail.

We retraced our steps back onto the pavement, then turned right. There are some benches here -- even a picnic bench (though I doubt anyone would use it given the wind). I wasn't sure if the trail actually goes past there, since there really aren't any signs anywhere in the park. We opted to stay on the pavement instead of venturing out there. As it turned out, the trail does go through there, so if I had to do it over again, I would have taken the path in that direction.

The trail enters a stand of cypress trees. A dirt path leads through the trees to the right, and we took it. The trail goes straight to the edge of some bluffs overlooking the ocean, which crashes in waves on the rocks some 30 or 40 feet below. Just to our right, the trail we had neglected to take emerges from a larger stand of trees. In any case, the view from here is grand. In fact, this little stretch of trail heading south from here makes the hike worthwhile.

Waves coming in to the shore

The trail is now completely out in the open, with low grasses and great views of the rocks and ocean below to the right. Very shortly we came to the edge of the park. If you have the time and inclination, you can continue on the trail along the bluffs, past Sea Ranch homes (practically in their backyards), for several miles. We didn't have the time, so we turned left to head back.

Rocks jutting out into the water

The trail now heads straight back, briefly entering a small stand of pine trees before rejoining the pavement and returning to the visitor's center.

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