On the Mendocino coast, the air smells of salt, and the crashing waves create a continuous resonance. The tall bluffs at this spot north of San Francisco resemble the rugged shores of the east coast, but with an unmistakable California flair. Two miles north of Mendocino, Russian Gulch State Park’s collapsed sea cave cuts 200 feet into the heavily forested Russian Gulch Creek Canyon, a headland that features the Devil's Punch Bowl (a large, collapsed sea cave with churning water), and a beach that offers swimming, tide pool exploring, skin diving and rock fishing. Inland, there is a 36-foot high waterfall. Hikers enjoy miles of hiking trails. The park also has a paved three-mile bicycle trail. Devil’s Punchbowl formed when pounding waves forged an inland tunnel and left a hole 100 feet across and 60 feet deep. At high tide, boiling waves crash around the cave’s interior, producing a reverberant echo. The photogenic Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge rises gracefully 100 feet from the bottom of the gulch. The park has nearly a mile and a half of ocean frontage; its craggy beauty rivals any point along California’s coast. In the spring, the park’s foggy headlands bloom with acres of wildflowers. The climate here is temperate year-round. Winter rains and cool summer fogs that usually burn off by mid-morning provide the moisture necessary for the thriving coastal redwoods. Prepare for changeable weather by dressing in light layers.

hiking
4 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

We went the first week of June and it was beautiful. It was cool in the morning an warm by the end of the hike. We went an extended route which ended up being around 8 miles. Trailheads were well marked and parking was easy. Since it's also a campground there are water fountains and bathrooms near the parking. We saw maybe 5 or 6 different groups of hikers for the firsts half to the waterfall but once we split off into the extended trail we didn't see anyone. Majority of the first 3/4 of the trail were shaded and the last fourth was intermittent shade, but it doesn't get too hot in Mendocino so it was fine - I'd just suggest to bring a bit of sunscreen. Also - use bug repellent! There were a whole-lotta mosquitos buzzing around. Also - I had it a bit easier than my SO with my waterproof hiking boots. There were a good amount of puddles and mud he had to dodge.

25 days ago

Beautiful waterfalls but path is full of stinging nettles. Spent more time trying to avoid being stung than enjoying the trail.

hiking
27 days ago

pretty fun trail with gorgeous forest views and an awesome waterfall midway through. shorter options available

hiking
1 month ago

Walked this trail today. Did the 2.7 one way. It was beautiful and we took kids age 4-9 with us and they did great. I did find out while there that dogs ARE NOT ALLOWED.

Amazing trail! Beautiful and almost completely shaded. I went on a day that was over 100 degrees inland, and it was an amazing 60 degrees on the trail. I was alone the majority of the trail
And just saw a couple people right at the end. A little muddy in areas, but not terrible. Loved the waterfall and even benches at the waterfall to take a break.

hiking
2 months ago

This is a really peaceful loop through the forest, and has a beautiful waterfall + pool to wallow in near the half-way point.

Really enjoyed this hike.

This trail is a bit crowded along the shortest path to the waterfall. However, every other part was totally empty (we saw no other hikers). If you're up for it I recommend the full 8-shaped loop which is about 6-7 miles depending on where you park. One thing that was really nice is it is entirely shaded so even on a sunny day the temperature was comfortable.