Walking Pt Arena Stornetta Public Lands

Coves and stacks

Back in March, we were delighted that the cows had given away another part of the California Coastal National Monument, where people could walk along a beautiful stretch of the Mendocino coast.

Pt Arena lighthouse

We had tried before to find a trailhead to this new area without success – there is little signage. Today we were more detectives, looking for parking and signs. We carefully moved off the pavement to roadside. (After we were here a few minutes several more cars stopped.)

Stornetta trail head

No real ‘trail’ is marked yet except for a double wheel track, too far from the ocean. So we just headed out. We both took pictures of this fence. Mike’s won. We started to see great slabs of earth slanting up, similar to what we see at Salt Point but without the tafoni erosion.

Fence ends

Mike headed down one slab and I made my way along the cliff edge. He saw a forest of sea palms.

Sea Palm forest

I was looking for sea lions on Sea Lion Rocks – I saw lots of cormorants.

Stornetta public lands

I was mesmerized by the waves. Mike was too – I fretted as he seemed to forgot that you don’t turn your back on the ocean. We had scheduled the trip for sunny fall weather and low tide – but…

Small waterfall

We wandered along the cliffs edge taking tons of pictures and trying to remember to look. The cliffs were fascinating looking south or

Crumbly cliff and path

looking north

Stornetta cliffs

And looking south.

flat rock and island Stornetta

The cliff top is fairly even, but looking at the stacks and cliff walls you can see how fragile it all is.

Sea Stacks

The ocean is always majestic and created some interesting patterns behind the island.


Farther along the bluff’s meadow – former cow pasture is carved by water running down from the hills to the east.

Forming ravine Stornetta

Sinkholes, are just starting or already connected to the ocean.

Through Sinkhole

When we looked away from ocean we saw a wide meadow. Many young pines were coming up – no longer eaten away by the cows. In a few years this might be more pine forest than meadow – if they make it past the brutal winter ocean winds and have enough rainwater.

Open space

Coming back to where we parked was the best place to take pictures of the mountains to the east.

View to Mountains

I have no recommendation on ‘trail’ – make it up. Please be careful near the cliff’s edge and be aware of the sinkholes.

Directions: To find the trailhead, go out Lighthouse Rd from Hwy 1, north of Pt Arena. Before the turn in the road to head to the lighthouse is a small roadside parking area.

Amenities: Portapottie. No water.

If you need it, bring it back out with you. This is a no frills location – but it is most wonderful.

No bikes, no horses, & dogs on leash.

Please see one of our Mendocino posts and scroll down to find Pt Arena Lighthouse. More walking area is on the other side of the lighthouse from where we walked. This part goes to the Garcia River.

Trailhead near lighthouse

We stopped for an excellent lunch at Rollerville, at the intersection of Hwy 1 and Lighthouse Road. Across the road was a trailhead – but no parking. There is another pullout and opening in the fence between here and where we stopped.

Rollerville entrance

Thank you all who made this possible. Property is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Map. There are 1665 acres. We only walked about a mile out and back.

We’ll come again. We kept wondering what wildflower show there might be in spring. A few plants were struggling now in September.

See you on the trail!

Words by Lynn Millar, pictures by Lynn and Mike Millar – available upon request.

Shore Pine

Walking to the Heceta Head (Calendar-Icon) Lighthouse

Last year we zipped down the coast of Washington and Oregon, hardly having time to look. This year we decided to spend two days in Florence, a small town on the Siuslaw River at the ocean. North of town (13 mi.) is a gem of a lighthouse, that the fog prevented us from seeing in the long view. This is last year’s picture.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse 2013

This year we made the short climb up. Continue reading

Wednesday Walking News: Long Walks & Variety of Activities

Hi! It’s Wednesday. This post was prompted by an article in the Press Democrat on Coastwalk tours. However, I have not been able to link to that site. So here’s a link to the horse’s mouth (or the trailhead, so to speak).

National Trails Day Hike- Mendocino County

little river with davidJoin David LaFollette for this special National Trails Day Hike along the Mendocino Hike. This gem of a hike begins at Little River Beach in Van Damme State Park and travels north along the California Coastal Trail. This trail passes through grasslands, where you might spot black-tailed deer, to a bluff top with access to a sandy beach and rocky benches usually populated with harbor seals and the noisy American black Oystercatcher. David will take you through a Bishop Pine forest to his favorite spot on the CCT, overlooking the rugged coast and a grand view, from which he has seen many gray, humpacked, and blue whales, harbor seals, sea lions, and many more birds and mammals! This hike is great for the first time hiker or experienced CCT hiker!

Pack water, layers and a lunch with snacks. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking shoes.

Click Coastwalk to register for this trip on June 7th.

For more trips via Coastwalk (the people who help make the trails work along the California Coast), click Coastwalk overnight trips. Continue reading

Walking at Asilomar – Pacific Grove

Many times we have walked near Asilomar, but never knew we could visit without signing up for a conference.

This time we had online information, found brochures at the Social Hall and tried to get the phone tour scanner to work. There’s a beach walk, woods walk and architecture walk – not very far, but plenty of reading material. Asilomar initially was a summer camp for young women and conference center. Between 1912 and 1922, buildings designed by Julia Morgan were built. Since 1956 the California State Parks has run the conference center.

Asilomar Social Hall Continue reading

Walking at Doran Beach & Birdwalk

dog leash

Lately, we’ve been to Doran Beach a couple of times. Even with the newly paved road along the beach, we like to visit via the Birdwalk at Cheney Creek. Still part of Doran Beach Regional Park, it allows access through the wetland and can be a great birdviewing spot.

Since I’ve been practicing with my new phone/camera, these pictures are more utilitarian than beautiful as Mike supplies. (Gray pictures are from February and sunny pictures from March 2014)

From the parking lot at Birdwalk, there are two paved ramps up to the trail.

Trailhead for Birdwalk at Cheney Gulch Continue reading

Wednesday Walking News: Monuments, Memorials and well…Walks

Click on the headings for more to the stories…

Stornetta lands may soon be monument

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell walks around the tide pools in the recently opened Stornetta Public Lands along the Point Arena coastline on Friday, November 8, 2013. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Supporters of a two-year campaign to extend national monument status to a breathtaking stretch of southern Mendocino coastline are abuzz with speculation that President Barack Obama might use his executive authority to make it happen, and that he might do so soon.

A key reason for the anticipation is the president’s pledge two weeks ago during his State of the Union address to use his office “to protect more of our pristine federal lands.”

______________________________________________ Continue reading

What the Tafoni is at Salt Point?

On the way home from Mendocino, it is almost required that we stop at Gualala Point or Salt Point. Since the dog was ‘on the ranch’ we decided to stop at Salt Point State Park.

The park does have a couple of miles of flat trail and some amazing rock formation. But this view isn’t bad for a picnic lunch. (You can get to this spot by taking the road after the campgrounds, drive past the a-frame Visitor Center on a gravel road and you come to a terrific picnic ground.)

Gerstle Cove Salt Point

After lunch, we backtracked and went out to the end of the road and parked to the left – with another view south and overlooking the Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve, California’s first underwater park.

June 2014 Update: Access to Stump Beach and Fisk Mill are now open in the park.

Continue reading

World Class Point Arena?

We recently took a trip up the coast to Mendocino. As with many vacations, you miss important news. The day we left Elk for home, we heard that Pt Arena was number ‘3’ on someone’s best places in the world to visit. In the world? Huh? Good thing we were stopping in Pt Arena on the way home.

Things still looked rough in the block or two of downtown Pt Arena. Our favorite restaurant was gone. How was this place going to sustain world travellers?

Pt Arena Wharf Continue reading

The Light’s still on at Pt. Cabrillo

North of the town of Mendocino is the Pt Cabrillo Lighthouse. In over 20 trips to the Mendocino Coast, we have never been to this light station. Big mistake.

Pt Cabrillo Lighthouse Continue reading

Walking into History at Fort Ross

Sunday, the ocean was calm – hardly a breeze – truly pacific. We made our way up the winding Hwy 1 to Fort Ross.

In addition to the new construction at the Fort and new places seen – the Call House was open and the Russian Cemetery was easily found – we had a marvelous afternoon. (We were last here in 2010.)

Windmill Ft Ross

Fort Ross Windmill

Continue reading