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A lone hiker makes her way up the climb north of Shell Beach.

A lone hiker makes her way up the climb north of Shell Beach.

I can’t say that I know how Blind Beach got its name (although I suspect it’s not that big or interesting of a mystery), but Goat Rock Beach is clear enough as the massive stone expanse that is Goat Rock is directly in view of the beach.

It had been a while since I had been out on the Sonoma Coast Trail for a decent hike, so a very hot day inland proved to be a smart choice to head to the ocean. From the Shell Beach parking lot (facilities, maps, no parking fee), the coastal trail can go a short distance south to Wright’s Beach, but I headed north toward the aforementioned Blind Beach. From start to finish, the entire Kortum Trail is close to four miles.

Rock climbers.

This is neither a high-mileage nor a high-difficulty hike; it’s a visceral one, with waves crashing just a stone’s throw away, cars on Highway 1 speeding by on the other side, and plenty of open space all around. Even the fog cooperated, barely blanketing the coast that day.

One of the highlights, elevation-wise, would probably be the spit of land known as Peaked Hill, which is about a 400-foot climb. The top, with a brief detour off the trail about 50 feet, is a perfect picnic or meditation spot. Or, head down to the beach at one of the many access points for a dip in the waves or to stand on a rock and soak it all in.

The wildflowers, a bit parched now, have passed their prime for the year, and the famed Bodega-area whales have moved on to other locales, but the coastal trail is still a fine summertime destination. Whether short or long, a hike that is largely a stroll along the edge of the continent in relative peace and quiet will always be a good bet.

Click here for the Sonoma Coast State Beach trail map

P.S. Reminder – the Trail Challenge, a summertime promotion of the Sonoma County Regional Parks, is still going on. Complete five different hikes, submit a log showing where you did, and get a free gift (I think/hope). More details here.


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