Red Hill, Sonoma State Park: A Hike from Redwoods to Coastal Vistas
After going to Russian River Brewery for the second time last month I thought – why not see the real thing on our coast trip? Word on the street is that the outlet of the Russian River is plagued with sharks (not that different from other rivers – except these might be Russian Sharks!), so I was opting not to go for a swim… also because it is January, and the Pacific. True story, I still haven’t swam in the Pacific since I moved here in 2010. I am convinced it just isn’t a thing in Northern California. Dear me from 2003, your life is still and never will be like The O.C., even though you inexplicably ended up in California
Anyhow, this area of the coast just north of Bodega Bay is dominated by sections of Sonoma State Park, beach access, and lots of photo opts right outside the car. I wanted to hike though, and see the river, so we opted to head up Red Hill – a small peak in the area.
Hiking Red Hill in Sonoma State Park
Trailhead: There are two trailheads that lead to the top of Red Hill – one starts from Shell Beach and the one I took was from Pomo Canyon Trailhead. Finding the Pomo Canyon Trailhead was a little tricker then I expected (roads aren’t named, or at least not in an obvious way). To get to the Pomo Canyon Trailhead turn down the first little road South of the Russian River Bridge on Hwy 1. The road gets pretty rough back here, and being that it was winter there were some additional large puddles. We parked and biked in from 3 miles out (before the biggest puddles), but you can drive up to the campground and park outside the campground gate in the winter. Of course, in the summer all this will be open. map.
Distance: ~ 3 miles (out and back), uphill and back down again from the trailhead. Because in the winter you can’t drive up to the trailhead you will need to hike (or bike in our case) from the gated entrance.
Curtis and I set out up Willow Creek Road during a dry spell in the winter, but after coming to a fairly large puddle decided to just park the Focus and not risk causing some sort of car issue on our long drive back to Groveland (which we were doing right after this hike). We parked right past some new looking bridges, and biked a 1.5 miles to get the the Pomo Canyon Trailhead. The car would have probably been fine, but it was a fun ride for the road bike – like a minor mountain biking on a crazy road situation. Good thing it wasn’t the first time Road bike has gone off roading ;)
The hike starts out of the Pomo Environmental Campground – which I would love to return to stay at when it is open. The sites are nestled in the redwoods! Most the redwoods here are younger, but have sprouted in number from an older parent plant. This result in bizarre and beautiful cage like trees that throw the sunlight
Soon enough after climbing up the slippery mud trail the coast becomes visible and posts guide the trail to the summit of Red Hill. It is a nice short hike with the climb being tempered by the brevity of the distance. The trail seems to be fairly popular, even in the middle of winter, but the large hill allows for a lot of people to spread out. Minor tick warning though, curtis managed to pick one up during lunch
More photos in the gallery below: