Stewart’s Point to Salt Point State Park

July 5: Sonoma County
Stewart’s Point to Salt Point State Park. 10.6 miles

We awoke to a clear but cold camp: a hint of what was to come for the rest of the day. This was to be a typical Sonoma County summer coast day: strong northwesterly winds coming off the ocean, creating large waves to crash spectacularly on the rocky coast.

The first four miles or so were devoted to Highway 1 as it winds through the Richardson Ranch. Here the ranch fences are far off the traveled way, but we are still forced to walk along the meager shoulder of the road itself. For some miles we could see the orange flags marking out a telecommunications easement crossing the bluff. Data, but not humans, are allowed to travel off the highway here.

Upon entering Salt Point State Park, we headed for the bluff top, immediately flushing out two large bucks. We then continued south along the bluff top to Gerstle Cove, stopping for a leisurely lunch at Stump Beach, where we sought shelter out of the wind. We traveled along a series of maintained and ad hoc trails, managing to get slightly lost only one time.

By mid afternoon the wind was exceptionally strong, causing the waves to hit the rocks and send spray flying. This spray, falling on the highly shaped rocks, gives the area its name. Evaporating later, it leaves behind the salt that Native Americans came here to collect. (Jon Breyfogle; photos, Linda Hanes)