Meanwhile back on Hwy 1 heading to Gualala.
After lunch and lounging at Stillwater Cove, we continued north – stopped at Salt Point to check the plumbing (bathroom at coast parking lot still closed.) Access at Fisk Mill is sadly closed. (As of summer of 2014 Fisk Mill is open again!)
We sped on (except for one lane road construction on the fragile Hwy 1) past Sea Ranch to Gualala Pt Regional Park. This is the northernmost park in Sonoma County and one of our favorites. We stopped at an overlook to the river for a contemplative half hour (you know, nap) and then proceeded to the Visitor Center and trails.
One of the reasons we like this park is the access to miles of flat trails. Other reasons include a big beach, subtly colored meadows, tree coverage, healthy coffeeberry plants, birds and peace. The distant location means sharing with fewer people. As flat-walkers we can’t find our quiet nature up a mountain, but we can find it in more remote parks.
From the Visitor Center, we stayed on the paved path and circled back on the dirt and grass trail of about a mile. We passed on a longer coastal walk by Sea Ranch and then drove into downtown Gualala. We make a trip here a couple of times a year and this time we were going to spend the night.
We stopped at the Surf Market first, a fun place to shop. Later, the man at the motel would describe it as “Trader Joe’s on steroids.” Our room at the Surf Motel had a view across Gualala River to the Pacific Ocean. Besides the view, the motel is pet-friendly. This was Cole’s first motel visit. He enjoyed the trail behind the motel (thank you Coastal Conservancy).
After a good night’s sleep, we had a tremendous breakfast on the porch of the motel lobby. We then decided on another walk at Gualala Pt, but with a trek to the beach.
From the Visitor Center we kept straight on the grass path down to the beach. A short climb over the dunes led to the wide beach. The morning had been so peaceful, but by the time, we got to the beach, the wind roared. We tried being brave but the walk involved lots of hunkering down by one of the elaborate driftwood structures people build.
We left the beach and made a loop of some of the more wind-protected trails.
Next, we decided to browse some of the shops back in town. Placewares is one of our favorites, both art gallery and eclectic gift shop.
Somehow, we were hungry again. I checked if Trinks (favorite café) would let us have a dog on the patio. They would! So we had another marvelous lunch, before heading home.
Words by Lynn Millar
Photos by Mike Millar
Random information: Cleanest bathrooms ever. Lovely campground along Gualala River under the redwoods. Trail Map.
We’ll be back. These chairs await.