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.

Very nice hike. The falls are beautiful, even in September. The first part of the trail is an old logging road, so it is still somewhat paved, but the rest is dirt. Much of the route follows the creek, so it is very lush with plenty of ferns and flowers. We hiked on a weekday and saw about 20 people total, so not a busy trail. Most people seem to take the most direct out and back route to the falls. We did a loop to add additional distance and hardly saw anyone on the secondary trails. Our favorite part of the hike was along the north trail - you have some elevation gain, but it's not difficult, and then once you are up on the hill, it is a very easy and relaxing hike through the forest.

No bugs. Well maintained trails. Lovely forest.

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29 days ago

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1 month ago

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1 month ago

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1 month 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.

2 months ago

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

hiking
2 months ago