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.
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.
Beautiful hike! You get to see the Redwoods, Russian River, and the ocean from this trail. Pretty moderate with some minor steep uphills. Please note that online this trail says dog friendly; however, there are signs posted at both entrances that says dogs are not allowed.
I had planned to try and combine the Pomo Canyon / Red Hill trails with the Wright Hill Road track shown on the AllTrails site. However, from the top of Red Hill, the route seemed blocked by a property fence and cattle on the far side of it. I ended up settling for a shorter hike (about 6.5 miles).
Many parking spots at Shell Beach (down toward the beach or just off CA 1 if you want to be closer to the trail-head. That trail-head is just across CA1 from the parking lot entrance. The sign says "Dr David C. Joseph Memorial Trail" but wooden posts along the trail will help identifying "Pomo Canyon Trail" and "Red Hill Trail".
The first part of the trail (about 1.3 miles) is fully exposed (bring water and hat/cap) and offer sweeping views of the coast and later the estuary of the Russian River. On the Pomo Canyon trail (north side of the loop) you will reach an overlook with wooden table off to the left after a bit more than 1 mile. Continuing on, the trail was noticeably narrower and progressively overgrown as well as muddy in spots (late April, small run-offs on the trail). That section also offers series of shaded spots, including short strolls though stands of Redwoods.
At about 2.5 mile, and just before descending toward the Pomo Canyon Campground, the Pomo Canyon trail intersects with the Red Hill Trail. A right turn on the Red Hill trail and the ascent toward the top starts in a sustaine fashion, offering open views to the East and then to the North, overlooking the Russian River from a higher vantage.
After crossing a last stand of Redwoods, the trails goes around to the South Slope and then up to the top. In late April, the grassy slopes around the top were nicely adorned with a spattering of wildflowers.
The top is a grassy and flat-ish mound and the views are fully opened over the Pacific and the coast from Bodega Bay (even Point Reyes in the distance) in the South to to upper reaches of Sonoma County to the North.
A trail descends almost due West to eventually rejoin the Red HIll trail and, further down, the Pomo Canyon (David C Joseph) trail for a return to the parking lot. That descent offers constant views of the Coast and Russian River along with a few nice rock formations for better photography....
Back at the parking lot, and if this loop was too short, there is the option to walk a few more miles on the Kortum coastal trail North or South.
All in all, a very nice place to hike. You will however not be alone as the trail is fairly popular.