nature trips

trail running

dog friendly


kid friendly



horseback riding




This park takes in some of the finest wetlands habitat on Californias northern coast. An ancient sand dune complex that has evolved into several distinct ecological communities, Tolowa Dunes encompasses ocean beach, river, open and vegetated sand dunes, wooded ridges, and wetlands. A diverse assortment of birds, animals and plant life thrive here, and the area serves as an important stopover on the Pacific flyway for thousands of migrating ducks, geese and swans. The Smith River is a good place for salmon and steelhead fishing, and cutthroat trout can be taken at Lake Earl. The basic amenities are provided for campers at two primitive campgrounds, including a ride-in horse camp and six walk-in sites. Hours: sunrise to sunset

2 months ago

We found this trail system by accident while trying to escape the hoards of people swarming the nearby redwoods. And while it certainly isn't a walk in the redwoods, we didn't see another soul on the trail while we were there which we loved. It's a fairly easy, well marked hike with loops to some coastal dune ponds, the Smith River, and/or the beach depending on how you walk the trails. We enjoyed watching a couple of Red-tailed Hawks, some Herons, Egrets, duck families, and insects on wildflowers. The dunes provide a nice wind break if you hike toward the ponds. The hardest part of the trail is walking in the occasional soft sand, so it's a good trail for families and hikers wanting an easy day out. P.S. My favorite part was the Yontocket cemetery and reading up on it to learn more about the history and relevance. There isn't a lot of information provided at the trail, so be sure to Google it to get a full understanding of the significance of the place.

3 months ago

Once you get to the trailhead you can choose between a few different routes. We choose to hike straight back in and out trail to the beach access. The hike started with open prairie type land the about 1/2 in you were able to hike through forest. It was a beautiful trail, well used by horses, judging by the droppings. The beach access was amazing, we only saw one other person on the entire beach. We were able to hike with out 2 dogs. Beware that the terrain is mostly sand the whole hike.

road biking
4 months ago

Start of trail pretty over grown.. We were looking for a trail to trike on .. this was not it

Me and my Dad did this hike a couple years ago and had a good time. It was a beautiful walk on the beach and we saw a lot of seals at the mouth of the Smith. Definitely fun on a nice day.

Nice trail and a great day... 3-1/2 for the trail + 1-1/2 for the timing to share it with the Elk. Walking around a corner I saw a lone cow elk up on my left and was positioning to get a pic when I got around the corner and had the privlege to see the 2nd biggest Elk herd I've ever seen. The only herd I've seen bigger and I means hundreds more is Tomales Point. Wish I had my camera with me instead of my cellphone but great nonetheless. Tolowa is a great place to hike in the winter because, among other things the Elk seem to be around more. If you hike with dogs be careful in midsummer when the calves are young. I've had Elk aggressively pursue my dog thinking she was a mountain lion.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Great beach hike to the mouth of the Smith. Great weather today with no wind. Did it on a perfect tide so the sand was nice and firm. Slightly surprised that people were fishing at the mouth on the other side you can drive right to. Probably a hundred seals cruising the mouth of the river. Brook, my Lab and I enjoyed this one as usual. When you hike this area always take note of what the beach looks like or mark it where you come off the trail. There are only a few areas to get back to the main trail in Tolowa.

Beautiful hike on the beach... On the way down it was beautiful but not very clear due to the combination of marine layer and smoke from the Chetco Bar Fire. The hike down was really mellow and timed pretty well with the tides. After the turnaround the tide changed and started coming in and there was a steady southerly wind of about 20 kts in my face. Due to having to walk in softer sand because of the higher tide along with the length I rated the hike as difficult. A lower tide without wind and it would be moderate...

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Cadra Point trail along with the spur trails are very good, especially the spurs because they are single tracks instead of old roads and the ends have nice views of Lake Earl. I found a map with the spur trails names but they aren't actually on the trails themselves which I thought was odd... The track I recorded is short 1/2-1 mile because i paused it to play with my lab, Brook and forgot to start it again for awhile.
Don't bother with the Penninsula or better known as Old Mill Rd because it's ugly with a lot of new rock (which I hate hiking on) and a place I'll never be again. My suggestion would be to work up the east side doing Cadra Point Trail along with the spurs and go back enjoying the hike...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sand based trail that has some scattered forests with a lot of meadows of grasses and a portion along the beach. A pretty good workout for most because a lot of the sand is pretty soft. Along the surf line on the beach is firmer than about half of the trail.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

This trail reminded me of what it would be lake being a recruit at Fort Ord. Just marching along in the sand... Most of the trail is sand based with close to 1/2 of it pretty soft. A little bit of forest and a lot of dunes. I ended up bushwhacking through beach grass to get to the beach on the way out which was very easy. My lab enjoyed the part along the beach the most. High point of the day was when I found my first agate on the beach!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Simply follow the directions and stick to the map. The only real downfall other than being a little boring and easy is with the exception of the loop on the end it's a wide, dirt road that could easily be driven in your car if the gate was open... Keep your eyes open for elk!

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Maybe the best trail in Tolowa. The only other possible would be the trails to and on the beach. My dog loves this one. Usually hike this area in the afternoon but decided to go this morning. I've read that Tolowa is noted for a porcupine population but even though I'm always looking for them had never seen one until this morning.. I was able to take a few pics close but didn't want to disturb the little guy too much Very slow moving animal. Don't be surprised by the elk on this one either. I've seen as many as 150 in one herd.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A great spot for camping on the beach (or in the dunes if it gets windy). Very isolated in the northern and middle parts, as I believe most visitors to this area come in via the road that forms the southern part of the trail. The few people we saw were agate (rock) hunting. Flat and not terribly interesting as a hike, but we were more interested in camping on the beach and letting the pup run around.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Thought this would be a quick and easy 5 mike hike. Turned at the post pointing to the beach in .5 miles. Lost the trail several times, eventually made it to a beautiful secluded beach. Had to call 911 to get back out, almost had S&R come get us after wandering around aimlessly for over an hour. Luckily they were able to direct us to another trail nearby that met up with the main road based off of our GPS coordinates. Apparently not for recreational, novice hikers.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Nice little trail with a mixture of trees and meadows. There can be elk and deer seen on the trail. The west part of the trail can have a few wet spots after a good rain but has a marshy area that can hold elk. Great trail system to get the dog(s) out.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I enjoyed doing this one today with with my dogs. It's a nice long walk through the dunes, the forest and the ocean, with it's views. It's the longest route I do in Tolowa. We didn't see any elk today but there were fresh tracks. The beach walk is pretty firm as long as you're fairly close to the surf. Keep an eye out for vehicles. This portion of Tolowa is legal to drive on the beach. There is a sign indicating that on the end of Kellogg Rd. When you're walking Kellogg Beach keep an eye out for agates as well. Plenty of people find them. The surf was a little high to be relaxed with my Lab in the ocean today.

Monday, October 17, 2016

There is a sign to mark the beginning of the trail in the small parking area and the hike goes through the Yontocket Cemetaries. This is one of my go to hikes with my dogs. I have seen eagles, hawks, deer and elk on this trail. There are a few variations within the park including some single tracks and routes out to the beach. I'll post up a few variations that I've done. There is supposedly a good porcupine population here as well but as yet I haven't seen any.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I hike with my dogs in this area. The trail is mostly flat and easy with some gentle rises on trails that range from old roadbed type to single tracks. The trail is also shared with horses as it is a popular place to ride. The track posted is off and when I figure out my gps I'll post an accurate one. There are also a lot of other trails in the park to enjoy.

2 months ago

Saturday, August 19, 2017