Sonoma Section 9

Campbell Cove, Bodega Head, to Valley Ford

Sonoma Section 9

Campbell Cove, Bodega Head, to Valley Ford

The CCT's final Sonoma County leg offers a walk first on a beach with calm surf, then up a small creek. The last portion requires a long highway walk. We advocate public purchase of the undeveloped headlands between Bodega Bay and Dillon Beach so hikers can experience this dramatic landscape and CCT users can avoid the long highway walk. For now the only way to finish Sonoma County without trespassing across uninhabited, open farmland is to walk the highway. To do this section as described, you must arrange a boat ride across the harbor mouth. Ask some fishermen at the Westside County Park boat ramp for a lift. Without a boat ride, through-hikers must follow the Alternate Route, while day hikers can start at Doran Regional Park.

Our walk starts at Campbell Cove on the leeward side of Bodega Head and just inside the harbor jetty. Take the ¼-mile boat ride across Bodega Harbor to the dock at Doran Regional Park. CCT crosses the sand spit to the beach on the ocean side, but consider the ¼-mile side trip to the end of the spit. From there you can walk east along the entire ocean shore of Doran Spit.

Walk east along the ocean shore, usually very calm here and safe for swimming. Gradually the beach curves southeast and south. After you leave Doran Park, continue south until you come to large rocks at 2 miles. If the tide is too high to get through a low tunnel in the rocks, you must retrace your steps about ½ mile, cross the low dunes to the road, walk it south to Highway 1, and turn right to walk the highway shoulder to Valley Ford. Otherwise continue past the tidal rocks.

At 2¼ miles you need to find Pinnacle Gulch Trail where a few wooden steps climb from the beach. Take this trail, climbing gradually up the gulch. Large houses perch above the gulch on both sides. After a short steep climb, the trail ends at the county parking lot at 2⅞ miles. Walk the road north briefly and turn right on Heron Drive, the main road through the upscale Bodega Harbour subdivision and golf course. At 3⅝ miles turn right on South Harbor Way, descend to Highway 1 at 3⅞ miles, and turn right. From here to Valley Ford CCT follows the highway shoulder.

Follow the highway up Cheney Gulch, then through rolling farm lands. At 7 miles Bodega Highway forks left ½ mile to the little village of Bodega, famous mostly as the location for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." Coastwalk's home base, Sebastopol, lies ten miles farther inland. CCT continues along the highway shoulder through pastoral hills all the way to Valley Ford at 101 miles.

ALTERNATE ROUTE: Without a boat ride, through-hikers must walk Bay Flat Road to the village of Bodega Bay and walk Highway 1 all the way to Valley Ford.

SUGGESTED ROUND TRIPS & LOOPS: Walk Pinnacle Gulch Trail to the beach. If the ocean is calm and you know the tide is ebbing, with caution you can walk north or south along the coast to wonderful pocket beaches. At very low tides it's possible to get around cliffs to the Estero Americano and the Marin County line, about 1¾ miles from Pinnacle Gulch. At low tide you can also walk north and west 2½ miles to the end of Doran Spit. Don't get trapped by the rising tide.

Distance: 10 ½ miles (16.5 kilometers)

Open to: Hikers, Bicyclists

Surface: Beach, trail highway shoulder

Access point: Campbell Cove at Bodega Head

How to get there: Turn west off Highway 1 at the north end of the town of Bodega Bay onto Eastside Road, then turn west on Bay Flat Road and go 3 miles to the Campbell Cove parking lot where the road makes a sharp turn uphill.

Other access: Doran Regional Park, Pinnacle Gulch Trailhead, along Highway 1.

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation gain/loss: 420 feet+/380 feet-

Cautions: It is best to arrange a boat ride across Bodega Harbor ahead of time. The south end of Doran Beach may be flooded at high or medium tide.

Further information: None.

Facilities: Picnic tables at Campbell Cove, water and restrooms at Doran Regional Park, store and restaurants at Valley Ford.

Campgrounds: Doran and Westside Regional Parks and Bodega Dunes State Campground are all nearby.

Lodging: Lodges and B&Bs in Bodega Bay and Valley Ford.

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