While many people visit California’s Sonoma area for the 400+ wineries, you’d be insane not to explore some of the stunning coastal trails and other hiking opportunities around—you have to work off those wine calories somehow!
Located in the 17-mile-long Sonoma Coast State Park, the Bodega Head Trail is one of the most well-known trails in the area and offers stunning views up the Pacific coast as well as beautiful vistas of inland Bodega Bay. It’s really easy to get to, a hike that people of all fitness levels can enjoy, and at certain times of the year you even have a chance of seeing grey whales. This is a must-do if you’re in the Sonoma Coast region!
I drove across from where I was staying in Guerneville straight over to the coast at Jenner, and then drove down the coast toward Bodega Bay. I stopped along the highway wherever I felt like it, just stopping at a pull-off, running out to snap a few pics, and then getting back on the road.
It was cloudy and cool all morning, until I pulled into the parking lot for Bodega Head Trail. And then I got THIS.
Well technically not *right* away, I had to walk a few feet to get there. But still.
I spent a great morning exploring the trail and soaking in the views, so here are my tips and some of my best pics for inspiring you to plan your own trip!
What you need to know about Bodega Head Trail
- The trail is an easy 1.7-mile loop, open year-round.
- Parking is free, though the parking lot can get pretty crowded in the summer.
- I started at the nearby “not official” parking lot (not the one below), and so did the loop a little differently.
- Now *loop* seems to be a little bit of a misnomer from what I could tell, because the actual trail doesn’t seem to make a true loop—instead you’d have to walk along the road between the parking lots to do that.
- That’s an option, or I just re-traced my steps back to where I’d parked (so a “there and back” vs. a loop). It’s a short enough trail and I needed the exercise, so it wasn’t an issue.
- From what I understand, you can also take a trail north from the main parking lot and hike up the coast. I didn’t go that route but hear it’s cool.
- Make sure to bring some water and wear sunscreen, since the trail is fully exposed to the sun the entire time. Here are some of my favorite sunscreens!
Other beautiful California hikes you’ll love:
The Bodega Head Trail hike is easy and beautiful, almost completely level. It’s a narrow dirt path, or in some places a few different paths. It would be super difficult to get lost, even though the paths fork off some times…they eventually come back.
Other beautiful U.S. hikes you’ll love:
The view over the bay was beautiful as I started out, but I was especially excited as I hit the true ocean coast.
Why is this hike a must?? Well, steep jagged cliffs, crashing white waves, gorgeous turquoise waters and hidden little beaches to look at, and swaths of bright wildflowers occasionally. What’s not to love?!
You might also like: The Best Korean Face Sunscreens & Moisturizers
You can see the tiny people from afar in my pics…there aren’t any railings or anything to prevent falling off to almost-certain death, so it’s super important to be careful, and in particular make sure that any kids are carefully watched. But I love how that openness gives it such a sense of freedom!
Other Sonoma adventures for your trip:
I was super excited to get a couple hours of sun and blue skies, since it had been gloomy and overcast all morning. It made the colors from the water and flowers pop so much more.
I was hot, dusty, and thirsty when I got back to my car, and super ready for lunch. There are a couple really well-known places right there on Bodega Bay, but they were packed and I had a list of places in the area I wanted to try. If you’re wanting to explore the Bodega Bay area a little more, the Sonoma County website can help you see what’s there.
I decided to suck it up and drive almost an hour to Sebastapol to visit The Barlow, a cool little collection of restaurants, shops, breweries, and more. You an see some of those delightful breweries and a cidery in my post about where to drink in the area if you’re not looking for wine!
This site has super detailed directions, details, and some photos on parts of the Bodega Head Trail hike, if you’re wanting even more detail.
Beautiful international hikes you’ll love:
- Hiking the Hooker Valley Track on New Zealand’s South Island
- Why A Sunrise Hike Up Masada Should Be On Your Bucket List
- Discovering A Secret Scottish Castle Ruin On A Sea Cliff
- Hiking Iceland’s Stunning Sólheimajökull Glacier
- Views For Days: Hiking the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye
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