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

Trail above Wright's BeachWe prefer the high road – or Kortum Trail. Off to the right after turning off Hwy 1 at Wrights Beach is a small parking lot. The walk from here to Furlong Gulch is the longest walk – over 2 miles round trip without any drastic ups and downs. A perfect walk for me and there are now signs that indicate grade change, path width and distances.

Besides the relative flatness of this part of Kortum Trail, mid to late May is a great time to see wildflowers in bloom.

The first part of this trail is a wide hard-packed gravel road. There’s a great view of the coast to the north. Sunday the sky provided extra interest. Along the way we spotted lupines, blackberry and thistles just starting to bloom. Hedge nettle (a stacked pale purple flower with mint-like leaves), owl clover and seaside daisies were well into bloom. The poppies weren’t quite open for the day, but two turkey vultures perched on posts were trying to pretend there was enough sunshine to dry out their wings.

View up the Sonoma Coast with wildflowers

In less than half a mile, the gravel road circles in a turnaround and a dirt and grass path goes off to the right heading inland towards Hwy 1. Nearer the road there’s a boardwalk over this wetter part of the area with fern, horsetail, vetch and meadow foam. Directly over the creek, we could hear the water. At each creek crossing along the trail the vegetation is different. Lots of wild radish and mustard prevail, though we could see a wild rose down creek. Boardwalk on Kortum Trail

The trail heads back to the ocean through coyote bush. Along the bluff, buttercups dominate. At ¾ mile the trail splits. To the left are steps down to the beach and to the right the Kortum Trail continues along another creek. Calla lily blooms and blackberry bushes abound. At the bridge, I could see and hear the water. The area was lush with Twinberry, Thimbleberry and blooming Western Dogwood and monkey flowers.

When the trail comes to a road that looks like a parking lot, we turned left towards the ocean, the vegetation is lower and there are fewer bushes. Blue-eyed Grass is everywhere with Sea Thrift spotted around the meadow. At cliff edge above the beach, Seaside Daisies, Red Maids, a few strawberries and Indian Paintbrush bloom. The ocean and gulls move below.

Sonoma Coast, mountains and wildflowers

Just over a mile is an overlook to the ocean and a grand beach at Furlong Gulch. If you can handle the steepness down to the beach, it is well worth a visit. The rocks have amazing colors of green serpentine and red rock with intertwining quartz. (Do I have to know my rocks too?)

On the overlook Goldfields outnumber the Buttercups for a fine yellow carpet. The Footsteps of Spring have faded away for the season. In another week or two the bush lupines will undulate in purple mounds, cascading down the cliff walls. They’ll be amazing for a couple of months along with the other bushes in the gullies as the other flowers fade. We’ll come again as we love to be amazed from Wright’s Beach to north of Shell Beach. It’s our favorite stretch of coastal walk. Ocean and flowers. What could be better?

Meadow Foam above Wright Beach

Thanks to Coastwalk and the Coastal Conservancy creating and preserving this trail.

Kortum Trail sign

This is a sign after my own heart.

On the gravel road portion north of Wright’s Beach, I’m sure a wheelchair could handle the trail. I’m not so sure about the other parts.

Lynn Millar

Photos by Mike Millar

See you on the trail!

See our walk north of Shell Beach for another part of the Kortum Trail. Or north of Jenner several short walks.

Map: Kortum Trail Map

Meanwhile back to walking…

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