Somehow, we went to the wrong place on the wrong weekend. When we were baking by the Bay two weeks ago, we should have gone to the ocean. Last Sunday, we went to a cool, foggy gray day at Bodega Dunes. Maybe we would have liked the bay walk on this cooler day.
The ocean looks great on any day. Sometimes you may need a child’s attitude and the proper clothes.
I met Mike above Wright’s Beach and got to watch big waves and surf, brave birds, kites and picnickers from the warmth of my car. After a sandwich lunch we went south on Hwy 1 to Barn Rd. Houses line the road and overlook Salmon Creek.
At the end of the road is a sandy parking lot at South Salmon Creek. Here, one can appreciate what dunes do. They move. A huge pile of sand dominates the cypress and the two pit toilets. Maybe it has run into the parking lot.
This entry is free, but it also requires a walk up and over a dune of loose sand. More loose sand is ahead. European beach grass has been planted to stabilize the dunes and in the right season Snowy Plover nest even undercover of this exotic species. The presence of Snowy Plovers is the reason dogs are not allowed on the beach. (True in much of California’s State Beaches.)
On the beach, kids were digging or playing catch. One bigger kid was boogie boarding in the shallow waves. Looking north we couldn’t see very far through the mist. But we saw to the creek and to one bare mountain and the lights of one car driving down the winding highway. Kinda of good creepy. On a sunnier day, you’d have a nice view up the coast.
We headed south and could see a stretch of beach less than 1/2 mile with one group of people far away.
We walked near the ocean. The water foamed with some yellowish green slime. In the wet sand it was somewhat easier to walk, but the beach slope makes it awkward, especially when we misjudged a wave and had to move to higher ground.
Under a heavy mist, the colors were subdued and pale. The driftwood structure decorated with orange kelp offered a little color. A boardwalk ramp was almost distinguishable just past it. When we got to the ramp, we climbed to a deck overlooking the beach.
A boardwalk leads to a day use lot. We walked around the lot and on the road for a while, admiring the red ice plant against the snowy flowering coyote bush. (The ice plant was recovering from an attempt to kill it off. It is a nasty invasive.)
I went off on the upper trail. It was almost as loose as the beach sand, so it didn’t make for an easier walk. There are several cross paths to the ocean, but those would have been hard trekking up and down. Perhaps on a sunnier day more of the BBQs and picnic tables are in use.
We went back to the ramp and down to the beach for the walk back. We could see Bodega Head, but just barely. It was still quite misty. This rider chatted with us for a few minutes while one horse tried to eat Mike’s jacket among other things.
We didn’t find the right way back over the dune, so there was more hard walking before we got to the lot.
There are no dramatic rocks here, but it is a good place for wave watching. It’s a mellow spot for beach sitting and ocean gazing, but it’s not our favorite walk along the coast. I need firmer ground.
See you on the trail!
Photos by Mike Millar
General information: A couple of miles walk possible on loose sand. Parking at end of Barn Rd. is free. State Park entrance at Bodega Dunes with both day use fee and campground fees. For camping this is a much quieter and more protected spot than at Doran Beach.
Wheelchair: From the Day Use parking lot, there is a paved and boardwalk path to a deck and ramp to the beach. Once you get down the ramp, I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do. If you just like looking at the ocean, the deck makes a fine spot. There are varying amounts of sand across some of the boardwalk. Rev up your engines.
Dogs: No. Horses: Yes
Bathrooms: Pit toilets both at Day Use area and off of Barn Rd.
Coffee & Food: I’ve mentioned the restaurants before. This time check out the Pelican Plaza Grocery and Deli at the north end of Bodega Bay. Good food, snacks, wine and coffee in a classy rustic remodeled store. Good people. If you miss it, turn around at Diekmann’s (don’t go in there).
For more walks please visit special Bodega Bay page.