Long sandy beaches below rugged headlands, a craggy coastline with natural arches and secluded coves are features that make Sonoma Coast State Park one of California's most scenic attractions. The Beach, actually a series of beaches separated by rock bluffs and headlands, extends 17 miles from Bodega Head to Vista Trail located 4 miles north of Jenner. Beachcombers, fishermen, sunbathers and picnickers can access the beach from more than a dozen points along coast Highway 1. While the north coast weather can be foggy in the summer, it usually burns off by midday and the cool ocean breezes make the Sonoma Coast a haven for visitors seeking to escape the inland heat.
We hiked from Shell Beach up Pomo Canyon trail. It was mid January, a beautiful sunny day, but the trail was flooded in several places. We had not planned for that and wore tennis shoes.. Other hikers with mud boots fared better. We had to go around some of the mud puddles by walking on the shoulder and sometimes into the brush along the sides of the trail. I did see some suspicious bushes, but convinced myself they were not poison oak. Unfortunately I was wrong... as evidenced by an itchy rash. The extra hike down to the closed campground is fun and scenic. There are no open bathrooms at the camp or anywhere along the trail. There's a waterfall at the far end beyond the camp. We saw a banana slug too! Apparently it's not a good idea to touch them... oops. It was a steep climb back to the main trail. We took Red Hill trail back towards the beach. It's higher up and wasn't nearly as wet and muddy. Avoid the Pomo trail during rainy season unless you are smart and have mud boots. Overall a fun hike with some challenging hills. Shell Beach parking lot has clean restrooms.
The description on this trail says it is "Dog Friendly" it isn't. There are signs posted everywhere that say dogs are restricted, but we saw many jerks who brought their dogs, let them run off leash and crap all over the trail. There was a disgusting amount of obvious dog feces - NOT COOL.
Please, do not bring your dog on trails that say they are not permitted, but if you must (because you're an a$$hole who thinks the rules don't apple), the least you can do for other hikers and, you know, the natural environment, is pick up and take out their waste.
other than that, this was a one of my favorite hikes. We started at 9am from Shell Beach, walked all the way to the other trailhead, by the campground then looped back, taking the Red Hill trail to Shell Beach. Gorgeous views of the Russian River Valley shrouded in fog, several old growth forests dotting the loop that offered shade once the sun came out, and got a few good hills in. All in all, a lovely day despite rude dog owners.