Hiking Bodega Head
If you're looking for a scenic area for coastal hiking during your northern California vacation, Bodega Head on the California coast will offer you some of the most beautiful vistas found anywhere. If your hike happens to be on a clear coastal day you'll be able to have a view of the Sonoma and Marin coast all the way south to Point Reyes, Tomales Bay and even past that.
The California coast region has some of the country's most scenic hiking trails. Bodega Head is well known as one of the best places in Sonoma County California for both bird watching and whale watching. Volunteer docents can be found at the parking lot on weekends, January to May, to assist the public in viewing the annual gray whale migration. Fortunately for us, during out early February visit to Bodega Head we did indeed view gray whales on their journey between Baja California and Alaska.
|Bodega Head Hiking Trail|
The trail at Bodega Head begins at the north end of the parking area. At this point is a small downhill trail to the beach below. To follow the Bodega Head Trail continue straight at this junction. The trail will begin an easy incline up the hills overlooking the coast. Along this trail you'll find short trails that go to the left which takes you even closer to the rocky coastline. As the Bodega Head Trail ascends you'll have breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean to the west where often you'll see fishing boast from the inner harbor.The trail continues to the top of the bluffs where it becomes fairly level.
Staying straight on the main trail will eventually take you to Horseshoe Cove Overlook. The trail ends at a little over a half mile from it's starting point.
The second part of the coastal hiking Bodega Head Trail begins at the south part of the parking area. Along this trail you'll view the fishermen's memorial which consists of cement blocks and a helm that resemble the bow of a ship. From this point the path will go to the left and hug the edge of the cliffs. The cliffs at this point are quite steep and the views out on the ocean are fascinating.
|Spectacular Pacific Coast scenery|
The San Andreas Fault and the Rocks at Bodega Head
Hikers at Bodega Head will see rocks quite different to the coastal area just to the east. The rocks at Bodega Head were actually torn off the continent some twenty million years ago when the San Andreas Fault came into existence and were pushed several hundred miles northward. Bodega Head rocks are continental granite and the rocks just a few miles east on the mainland coast are oceanic in origin.Similar rock in found further north at Point Reyes and also on the Farallon Islands.
When you hike Bodega Head you're walking along a area of historic significance along the California coast region. The history of the scenic town of Bodega Bay and the harbor region goes all the way back to the time of the Russian occupation of the northern coast of Alta California. The Russian's primary settlement in the region was further north at Fort Ross, also directly on the coast. Russian traders used Bodega Bay as a port from about 1810 to 1840. enjoyed the presence of the Russians in as much as it helped protect them from the Spaniards to the south who were known to raid Indian villages for workers.
|Wave action off Bodega Head|
Two additional Western Trips photo article links you'll enjoy are the Sonoma County Russian River Kiyaking and the Historic Big Sur California Bridges.
Reaching Bodega Head
The town of Bodega Bay is directly on Hwy 1 about a 67 mile drive north/northwest of San Francisco. From Hwy 1 turn west on Eastshore Road. At the bottom of the hill at the stop sign, turn right on Bay Flat Rd. This road will go around the bay for 3 miles. At the end of the road you'll have a hairpin turn to the right. Go uphill another another half mile to the large parking area by the cliffs.
|Typical view from the Bodega Head Hiking Trail|
As the photos in this article show, I think you'll find the Bodega Head Hiking Trail one of the more picturesque of any found on California's northern coast. It's one of the more popular coastal hiking trails that offer both great recreation and terrific ocean views.
(Photos from author's private collection)
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