Mendocino County. Stoneboro Road to Schooner Gulch

July 1: Mendocino County Stoneboro Road to Schooner Gulch. 10.4 miles

Last night after our feast of abalone cakes, salmon, wonderful flowered green salad, bread, pilaf and ice cream, we were given a tour of the Point Arena lighthouse facility. Our guide was Jeff Gayles, who is managing the effort to properly restore this historical landmark. Our accommodations for the night are the houses used by the lighthouse keepers when the lighthouse was a functional navigation aid. Point Arena itself is a marvelous place, and we hit it on a marvelous day. We had almost unlimited views; looking north over the past several days of our lives and south into our future.

We bussed back to Stoneboro Road to begin our journey for the day. Avoiding Highway 1 as much as possible, Patricia Schwindt of the Moat Creek Managing Agency, took us along Windy Hollow Road to the town of Point Arena. This byway took us through rolling dairy country and was often lined with rows of old cypress or pine trees. Along the way, we had to ford the Garcia River. The ford starts out with a bang, almost immediately we were in thigh-deep water. But the river is small and soon we were on the other side.

After lunch at the new park in Point Arena, we began by walking along Highway 1 for several miles, abandoning this route at Moat Creek. Here we were treated to the Moat Creek — Ross Creek Bluff Top Trail. This trail was created by utilizing the lands covered by OTDs (offers to dedicate) created as a condition of approval for the Moat Creek Estates subdivision. The result is a 1.4 mile bluff top and access trail. The Moat Creek Managing Agency was able to get substantial help from the Coastal Conservancy and the Surfrider Foundation (Moat Creek beach is a good place to surf). What was so impressive about the trail was its human scale and the implicit sense of community it demonstrated. The members of the managing agency remain intimately involved with the trail, even after it has been built. When it needs mowing, they mow it. All the signage has been done by local artists. The bathroom is immaculately maintained, right down to the magazine selection on the table next to the commode. The obvious care being taken is reciprocated by the users’ respect for the coast is translated into respect for the hard work being done.

We then walked along Bowling Ball Beach, one of the most interesting beaches we have seen so far. Layer upon layer of soft rock rises out of the beach; often these layers harbor perfectly round or disk shaped concretions. Also the pale colors of the rocks make you think that you are on a much more southerly beach.

Soon we came to Schooner Gulch, the end point for this day. Peter Reimuller, a local environmentalist, showed us a 1908 photo of this place — at that time, a little farm on the coastal road. He pointed out a telephone pole in the picture, which is still standing beside what is now the trail to the beach.  (Jon Breyfogle; photos, Linda Hanes)