Occasionally, I use this space for posts from guest writers on particular hikes.

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Today’s is from Brandon Brédo. While he is the supervising ranger for South County parks in Sonoma County, this column is actually about a coastal hike near Bodega Bay. If you’re interested in contributing to this blog and sharing info on hikes you like, send me a note through the comments section or by email.

Take it away, Brandon:


Family Friendly Beach Hike: Pinnacle & Shorttail Gulch Coastal Access Trails, a loop hike under 2 miles.

(Route map and basic info)

My family and I recently enjoyed a lesser-known destination within Sonoma County Regional Parks – a loop hike along the Pinnacle and Shorttail Gulch Coastal Access Trails. This hike begins at a shaded parking lot with a clean restroom and potable water. Parking is $7 or free with a Regional Parks membership.

I loaded up my 19-month-old son in a kid carrier backpack. My 8-year-old daughter took the lead down the Pinnacle Gulch Trail while my wife walked with our dog (on-leash required.) The transition from the trail to the beach was recently rebuilt with FEMA funds. This is a wonderful improvement that hopefully will withstand the powerful seasonal changes, erosion and weather for years to come.

When we poured onto the beach, I followed my energetic son as he ran up and down the long sandy stretch while my adventurous daughter climbed rocks and played in the sand. Both of the kids then played together in the steady freshwater stream they found trickling from the gulch just before it wanders into the Pacific.

After a picnic at Pinnacle Gulch Beach, we explored the tides and creatures on the way to Shorttail Gulch. We stopped and watched as a pod of north-bound whales presented themselves not too far off shore. Black Oystercatchers raced along the surf as we walked south. Osprey and turkey vultures silently soared high above us.

The trail sides along Pinnacle and Shorttail have colorful spring wildflowers such as sticky monkey flower and Indian paintbrush. There were also some escapee ornamentals from the nearby development such as lavender. And poison oak is in full force, so staying on trail and keeping dogs on leash is certainly necessary.

I can always measure a successful family friendly outing by the instant naptime that follows during the drive home.

Another fun route is to start at Pinnacle Gulch and hike to Doran Park (check tides for best timing). Organizing a shuttle back to Pinnacle Gulch is another story.