From its wild and rocky coast in the north to the south coast’s vast, sandy shores, the California coastline lures many to walk along the edge of the continent to gaze at the ocean. Sweeping coastal views are blocked in many cities, but wide-open hiking spaces abound nearby where anyone willing to leave the car behind can get a closer look at the wild Pacific.
While the California Coastal Trail winds along the 1,200 miles of the state’s coast, not many people have to time to hike the entire distance. Dip your toe in with some of these Golden State coastal trail highlights:
Salt Point Bluffs (10 miles round trip)
Riots of wildflowers, wild coastal bluffs and spouting whales in the distance are bonus elements of Sonoma County’s Salt Point State Park — about 23 miles north of Jenner on Highway 1. Follow the trail north from the Gerstle Cove parking lot. After tracing your route along the rugged shoreline, either continue to follow the trail or take a stroll along Stump Beach (the cliff is high here, so be careful). Then, pass through coastal grasslands, a bishop pine forest and country roads on your way to Horseshoe Point.
Dipsea Trail (14 miles round trip)
Marin County’s Dipsea Trail may not start at the beach, but it winds through redwood forest and mountain landscapes before finally dipping its way toward Stinson Beach. Start in Mill Valley at the trailhead, head up three flights of steps as tall as a 50-story building and meander through the Muir Woods National Monument, following the well-marked trail to the ocean. Just make sure you don’t take this hike on the date of the annual Dipsea Race in June, America’s oldest trail race…
Read more: Lonely Planet