Walking at Goat Rock

Goat Rock and the rest of Kortum Trail.

Just south of the Russian River and the town of Jenner, CA is access to Goat Rock part of the Sonoma Coast State Park. The beach, with soft sand and a steep slope, does not make for ideal walking. But it is worth a visit.

Last week with offshore breezes the coast was warm and sunny. The fall is often the best time to visit the coast because the summer fog is gone. We drove north on Hwy 1 from Bodega Bay and turned off at Goat Rock. This picture shows Goat Rock and the north end of the Kortum Trail.

Goat Rock near Jenner

Goat Rock

Just past the parking lot for Blind Beach (that means it’s below a cliff and not visible from the road), we could get a view of the Goat Rock beach. At this time of year – before the rains – the Russian River is closed by a sandbar to the ocean. It was also low tide, so the waves weren’t washing over the beach.

Beach across Russian River at Goat Rock

We chose to park at the lot to the right and to the north. The dunes are not as big as the ones looming at Bodega Dunes. On a beautiful sunny day, it did not seem so tough.

To the north by the river is a favorite hangout for harbor seals. Please keep your distance from them. They have enough trouble from the occasional visit of an elephant seal. No dogs are allowed on the beach to protect the seals.

Up a dune Down a dune

Sometimes when we walk along this beach, we see harbor seals playing in the surf. Today brown pelicans were controlling the fishing.

Brown Pelicans at Goat Rock

Past the parking lot at the actual Goat Rock is another beach and another great view.

View South from Goat Rock

This next picture is taken of that arched rock from the road above.

Arched Rock at Goat Rock

The beach walk continues – best at low tide – for another half mile.

Blind Beach south of Goat Rock

Back near the north parking lot and towards the river we enjoyed a view of the Russian River and Jenner. Several kayakers were enjoying the calm day.

Russian River at Jenner

Kortum Trail

We have reported on the Kortum Trail many times and walked it many more times. Just not this section of the trail because it is steeper. It starts near those cars close to the Blind Beach parking lot. First part climb the hill to where this picture was taken.

Kortum Trail above Blind Beach

And then go down the hill. Overall it’s about 300′ in elevation change. Yes, still too much for me.

Above Kortum Trail

Once you get down this hill, there are plenty of plateaus and a few creek crossings. It’s about 4 miles to Wright’s Beach.

Kortum Trail looking South

The northern part of the Kortum Trail area was grazed until the 1990s and the southern part until the 1980s. Guess that’s why the spring wildflowers are better in the south. And in winter? it’s just raw beauty.

See you on the trail!

Words by Lynn Millar, Photos by Mike MIllar, copyright 2013, available upon request.

Distance: Goat Rock -  About 2 miles round trip from sandbar at the Russian River to Blind Beach. Kortum Trail: About 8 miles round trip from Blind Beach to Wright’s Beach.

Cost: Use your state pass. Otherwise, $8/vehicle or $7/senior

Picnic tables: a few with wind protection from the dunes by the north parking lot.

Dogs: For most of the Sonoma Coast under CA State Parks, dogs are not allowed on the trail. Here’s a link to where dogs are allowed.

Bathrooms: Real building, flush toilets, cold water at each parking lot at Goat Rock. Pit toilet at Shell Beach on the Kortum Trail.

Click for More Kortum Trail: Above Shell Beach and Wright’s Beach.

Walking the Kortum Trail in Winter

Kortum Trail is one great place to walk clifftop along the Sonoma coast. Round trip, it’s eight miles from Goat Rock to Wright’s Beach. I like to pick it up at Shell Beach and walk a shorter piece.

In winter, this part of the Sonoma coast is a study in grasses. I like the rawness of it. Not quite wild, since it used to be pastureland, but a harshness, that I find invigorating. Winter also provides some clear vistas.

Kortum Trail Boardwalk

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Where is Your First Day Hike (Walk)?

Where will you walk the first day of the year? I have a few suggestions.

Kortum Trail – in winter the land is raw, the ocean powerful and the air clear

We went to Kortum Trail yesterday starting at Shell Beach. It was a bit soggy, so waterproof boots are in order. Those foreground puddles are nothing, to what lays ahead. Boardwalks cover some of the wettest areas, but not enough. To get to that ‘outcrop’ ahead is about 1.5 miles and there’s a creek crossing with bridge, with a short steep descent and ascent. I used my poles to help. As the sign says, it’s 2.3 miles to Goat Rock, with another creek to cross and a hill to climb.

Kortum Trail

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Most Poplular Posts 2012

The most popular posts for 2012 – without including one day this week, someone falling asleep on their keyboard for Bartholomew Memorial, a nice hike, but not very flat. Click the title or picture for more details.

1.  Dog Walks and Dog Parks - this surprises me as there are several dog park websites in the county. Dogs Rule! We also did a post on Dog Parks of Petaluma.

De Turk Dog Park Poodles

De Turk Dog Park Poodles

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Introduction to Walking – Three Years Later

So, going forth, I’ll have a fifth. How did I get to that sentence? First, a suggestion to rewrite my first post. Second, a notice of my third anniversary on WordPress. And then the ordinal numbers and puns poured out.

My first post was an Introduction to Walking. After three years of blogging many of my promises to readers came true. The first year there were 52 walks. Since then, there’s been another 68. Some of them repeats or in the same general area and some to places I hadn’t forseen. Seasons and plans change. The blog goes with us on vacation.

Many people come to the site for Mike’s pictures. Here’s one that well describes the reason we walk. We love to walk in beautiful places. Lucky you, we also like to share those places.

Salt Point

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Kortum Trail Update

Mallow blooming in March above Shell BeachWe visited the coast a couple of weeks ago – to check on the wildflowers. The buttercups were out and a few other strays, like this mallow. Seeing the early bloom, we moved the coastal walk from May to April. Please join us April 21st above Wright’s Beach. More info below.

The trail south from Shell Beach had previously been covered with gravel. I slipped then, so this time I used my walking stick to stay upright on the dip to a creek crossing. There was a temporary bridge – guess the old one fell apart – and a new one was well on its way to completion.

New Bridge on Kortum Trail near Shell Beach

Saturday, April 21st  10am to 12pm– Wright’s Beach – The warm winter may bring the wildflowers out early. The Sonoma Coast cliff-tops are a great place to view a variety of flowers. Join us on this over 2-mile walk. Path is dirt, grass, gravel and boardwalk. Relatively flat, with a few bridges at creek crossings and short steep downs and ups. Turn off Hwy 1 north of Bodega Bay at Wright’s Beach. Just to the right is a small parking area. If you’re heading downhill, you’ve missed the parking lot. There is handicapped parking and some wheelchair access for the beginning of the walk. Besides the wildflowers, the views to the mountains can be stunning.

Here’s some of the text and pictures from an earlier walk.

Wright’s Beach in an earlier post and year Continue reading

Everthing’s Right above Wrights Beach

The weather forecast said no rain until 3pm. So at 9:30am it started to rain as soon as we got in the car. It was the kind of rain that makes the wipers grind the dirt into the windshield.

When we got to Bodega Bay it rained like hell. The surfers at Salmon Creek didn’t care and by the time we got to Wrights Beach it had stopped. Until we stepped out of the car. With a 360° view we could spot the rain clouds and decided we were good to go. It turned into a marvelous day with a sky worthy of a tempestuous Midwest firmament. Continue reading

Shell Beach North at Year’s End

It was an eye-watering, nose-running, earmuff-wearing kind of day for a walk. But every day at the ocean is different. This was just a raw cold and windy one.

The Sonoma County coast is on a more human scale than say Big Sur. That coast wears on me with its relentless towering steep slopes to the ocean. This coast is approachable with some mountains to the sea, plateaus that fall off to the beach and places where one can step from the road to the beach.

We had dodged rain storms to squeeze in this walk. Turning south from Hwy 116 to Hwy 1, we crossed the Russian River. On the drive south, we saw the ridge of each ocean wave distinct and miles long. Continue reading