Russian River to Campbell Cove on Bodega Head

July 8: Sonoma County
Russian River to Campbell Cove on Bodega Head. 15 miles

We began on the south bank of the Russian River opposite our stopping point of the evening before. From there we walked through to Blind Beach and up to the bluff top where we joined the Kortum Trail. This stretch of the Coastal Trail is named in honor of Bill Kortum, Sonoma County environmental activist, and his wife and helpmate Lucy. This section of the Coastal Trail crosses a beautiful coastal terrace with landlocked sea-stack rocks protruding from it. There have been some recent improvements to this trail. North of Shell Beach, where it crosses over a wet area, a new boardwalk has been constructed, and two new bridges now ease the crossing of Furlong Gulch.

After Wright’s Beach, we were again forced to walk along Highway 1. Soon we came to Gleason’s Beach, where many of the houses are slipping into the sea. Seawalls, built to stop the inevitable, have destroyed the beach below as a viable path for walkers, and as we continued on the highway past the front of the homes, we saw “unsafe” after “unsafe” sign on the abandoned structures. Clearly, no one is winning here.

At Carmet we were greeted by folks from the State Parks, Sonoma County’s Open Space District and Landpaths, a Sonoma County organization working closely with District’s staff. After lunch we were then guided through the Carrington Property by Craig Anderson of Landpaths, Dino Bonos of the Open Space District and Richard Royer from State Parks. This 330-acre parcel has recently been purchased in fee by the Open Space District and is being land-banked until it can be absorbed into the State Parks system. Eventually it will provide a route for the Coastal Trail. This property lies east of Highway 1 from Marshall Gulch to Salmon Creek.

At Salmon Creek we were on our own again and we progressed back to the beach and southerly to the boardwalk, to the day-use parking lot for Bodega Dunes State Park. Here we were picked up and shuttled to the Bodega Grange.

What a surprise was in store for us! Suddenly, we tired and dirty walkers became celebrities. On hand to greet and be with us were Mike Reilly, Chairman of California’s Coastal Commission, and Sara Wan, past chair of the Coastal Commission as well as representatives of State Parks, The Grange, and Sonoma County’s Open Space District. After a short meet and greet, we all walked through Bodega Bay along the route proposed by The Grange for a safe hiking and bicycle path. The present route along Highway 1 is very hazardous.

Our camp for the evening was at Bodega Dunes State Park. After dinner several of us returned to the end of our “official” walk at the Bodega Dunes. From there we continued south along the beach and then cut southeasterly through the dunes to West Side Road. Following this road, we came to Campbell Cove and the site of the “hole in the head”. Had corporate America had its way, this would have been a PG & E nuclear power plant. (Jon Breyfogle; photos Linda Hanes)