Here’s a trip from five years ago, but we’re planning another January trip. What will we revisit and what will be new?
Not that we spent much time going up the valley, we were anxious to get to Mendocino.
We stopped for the obligatory pastry and coffee at the Downtown Bakery in Healdsburg. And on the drive, did our best to stay off Highway 101. It got sunnier the farther north we went. At Cloverdale, we took off on Hwy 128 for a winding road through beautiful oak woodlands.
Some of the meadows have given way to vineyards, but the winery money seems to mean that Booneville is a groovier town. We had fine sandwiches at the Mosswood Café. After the open meadows/vineyards the redwoods take over along the Navarro River.
We stopped briefly at the (Navarro River Redwoods State Park) Paul Dimmock campground and gazed at the milky fast moving river. No campers, this time of year. It’s dark under the redwoods, so we hastened on to the ocean.
Shortly after we turned north at the ocean, the fog fell down. We stopped at Navarro Point on the ocean side of Hwy 1. A loop trail takes off from the parking lot. Thanks to the Coastal Commission, Coastal Conservancy and the Mendocino Land Trust, the trail was created and is maintained. Several pre-constructed boardwalk sections covered the soggiest spots.
We took off south from the lot and then towards the ocean through a meadow. A few dandelions were blooming and there were hints of flowers to come. The trail is grass and dirt and on the way to the point, only one person and one gull had left prints in the mud before our arrival.
Heading north along the bluff, the fog lifted, so we could see the coastline. The trail was soggy in spots but it was rugged fun for my spoiled self. The trail climbed gradually as it looped back to the parking lot.
Rules: Dogs on leash and no bikes or motorized vehicles on the trail. Restoration work areas are marked off. Not wheelchair accessible.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
After an unfortunate noisy night in Mendocino, we went north to the Botanical Gardens in Ft. Bragg. We’ve been here a number of times and it just gets better and better.
Through the entry (and gift shop) a patio with tables and chairs leads to a formal garden. Mounds of heather were in bloom and the general appearance was lush. Some rhododendrons, azaleas and fuchsias were in bloom. New sculptures enhanced the more formal gardens near the entrance.
We went through a new gate to the North Trail along a cove, out from under the cypress to a bluff top meadow. It’s a paved path, so we didn’t have the wet-pant-leg problems of yesterday. It was another fine day, but we didn’t stop for a sit on one of several benches. We did stop to watch the breaking waves and then headed back inland.
At the vegetable garden, we saw bright happy chard. Volunteers were gathering for the day’s work.
We stayed on the paved paths, though there are narrow dirt paths that crisscross the creek running through the Gardens. It was another delightful day there, a treat to nose and eye. Mike bought a blooming fuchsia in the nursery. Twenty plus years ago we bought a pieris here. There is an entrance fee, but we feel it is well worth the cost.
As we drove back to Mendocino, we made a detour on Pt Cabrillo Dr. and found Caspar Beach. A small, almost white sand beach, it is edged by two creeks running to the ocean. The tide was out, the sun made everything shine and a dog vigorously chased a ball. We took a short walk on the beach and explored the RV Park across the road.
After a night and morning in Agate Cove, we headed back home. The great thing about going home is there are many more wonderful places to stop.
Back in Gualala we had another marvelous lunch at Trinks, before heading south again to Salt Point, Gerstle Cove. We parked above a cliff that reveals all the amazing stone formation types at Salt Point State Park. Please visit our earlier post.
We were well exhausted and invigorated by visiting old and new places.
See you on the trail!
Pictures by Mike Millar