Sonoma Section 4
Salt Point State Park to Fort Ross
This hike leads from one of the most scenic state parks on the coast to the one of the most dramatic historic parks in the state, Fort Ross. Here the CCT offers a mixed bag of unmarked trails and highway shoulder with intriguing stops along the way.
From the trailhead at the south end of the lot, walk south onto the point and head northeast toward Gerstle Cove. You soon cross the paved access road to the cove. Climb north on a dirt road, then turn right on a path paralleling a paved road and reach the A-framed visitor center at 14 mile.
The Gerstle Cove Visitor Center overlooks the placid cove often busy with skin and scuba divers. Since the cove is a marine reserve, divers can look but not take. The trail leads from the front of the visitor center southeast into the trees. Then crosses a bridge over a gully and follows the bluff above the cove. A wildfire burned this entire are in 19945. It’s a good place to watch this forest and terrace recover.
The CCT meanders along the marine terrace, coming to a parking area at the end of the road at 58 mile. From here a dead-end side trail explores the shore to the south. It passes a gate, dips through a gully and crosses the terrace. Around 58 mile, the path ends at steep cliffs overlooking a rugged coast. You can turn inland her and hick cross-country to the highway about 38 mile uphill. It’s easy to get lost in the thick undergrowth and drift onto adjacent private property, so we don’t recommend this route.
Distance: 8 ¼ miles (13.7 kilometers)
Open to: Hikers, Bicyclists
Surface: Trail, highway shoulder
Access point: Salt Point Parking Lot
How to get there: Salt Point Parking Lot
Other access: Either of Salt Point Campgrounds, Stillwater Cove Regional Park, or anywhere along the highway.
Elevation gain/loss: 720 feet +/600 feet-
Cautions: The trail from Salt Point to the highway is mostly unmarked.
Further information: None.
Facilities: Water, restrooms, and picnic tables at access point, Gerstle Cove and Fort Ross. Latter two also have visitor centers.
Campgrounds: Salt Point State Park campgrounds, Stillwater Cove Regional Park campground, two private campgrounds south along the highway.
Lodging: Several lodges are on the route along Highway 1.