Looking south from Goat Rock along the Sonoma coast.

With a hot day looming on Saturday and wanting to go for a good hike, I did what many locals were doing – head for the coast. My coastal hikes have usually revolved around Point Reyes, the Marin Headlands, or even points in the South Bay or East Bay. Little time has been spent right here in Sonoma County.

So, given that

I only had a half-day free due to some other commitments (see: apples, picking, Sebastopol, handcar Regatta prep), I headed west. My destination was Sonoma Coast State Beach, which is about 13 miles of individual beaches that all are under state purview. Some of these beaches are well known and popular, but many are just little secrets specks of shoreline reachable only by water or by scaling down hidden paths.

I started at Goat Rock, about a 10 minute walk away from the start of the actual trailhead for the Sonoma Coast Trail. The trail itself follows the bluffs overlooking the ocean with some small climbs, a few minor switchbacks and stellar views the whole way. The trail is generally a straight shot south ending at Wrights Beach, about a 6-plus mile roundtrip from the start. But that’s the path most traveled. As I headed on it, I quickly was intrigued by all the secluded beach areas that I was walking above. So over the course of the hike, I made my way a couple of times down to the water, once for a quiet picnic lunch spot and another time to take a brief nap (who said hiking has to be strenuous all the time?), and then easily resumed my way on the trail.

The trail itself is well marked and there are several possible starting and stopping points if you don’t want to do the entire route, or if you want to make your own out-and-back path. And facilities are available at several locations.

It’s hard to say for sure but I would estimate that my total mileage including the trail itself and a few detours was around 8 miles or so. The temperature wasn’t nearly as cool as I had hoped so it wasn’t the breezy walk I had envisioned but it wasn’t blisteringly hot either. On several of the marked beaches, lots of people were out enjoying the day. Given that a major fire was happening just inland from Bodega Bay (See Kent Porter’s incredible pictures here) and blocking traffic back to Santa Rosa, spending the day at the coast seemed to be a wise choice.

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