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

Published by Lynn Millar

Walker, reader, writer, traveller - see About Walking

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