Steelhead and Sunset Beach Parks are small spots along the Russian River. Marvelous on a weekday and tend to be party places on the weekend. They can also be flooded out in winter.
Steelhead Beach Regional Park
Steelhead is a 26-acre Sonoma County Regional Park with two beaches on the Russian River and a couple of dirt trails. For a small park it provides a mixed riparian woods (big leaf maple, Oregon ash and bay trees), North Coast Riparian Scrub (several kinds of willows) and Alluvial Redwood Forest. All those mean, in winter the park can be flooded and renewed by the waters of the Russian River.
Use your annual pass or pay $7/vehicle. Fishing and launch access are extra.
Some wheelchair access near parking lot.
Dogs on a leash, as usual.
Real bathroom building – oops forgot to check – but it says flush toilets.
9000 River Rd, Forestville. Park map.
Sunset Beach River Park
Sunset Beach is another small park on the Russian River developed by the Sonoma County Regional Parks. Originally, a small patch of riparian environment and beach that people risked their lives to reach by running across the busy River Rd. (It was probably more life-threatening on the way back to their cars and in their cars after a day of sun and beer.)
Now it’s safer and only costs $7/vehicle or use your annual pass. There are picnic tables near the parking lot. Down a wide dirt road is a wide flat beach on the Russian River.
My suggestion: visit on a weekday (unless you’re a party animal) and enjoy a more peaceful time on the Russian River. It’s at 11060 River Road, Forestville. Wheelchair accessible to the picnic area and portapotties.
See you on the trail!
Words by Lynn Millar, photos by Mike Millar, copyright 2013, available upon request.