Salt Point State Park is a wonderful place to visit on a drive down the scenic Sonoma Coast Highway. It has four access points to a rugged yet picturesque rocky shoreline. Tide pools are more abundant here than sand is, but if you are seeking a sandy beach this park has one and it’s in gorgeous Stump Beach Cove.
Three of the coastal access points have day-use parking areas with restrooms and picnic tables. Horseshoe Cove is the least hospitable and least accessible of them all. Trails along the bluff connect all four coves and more hiking trails can be found on the portion of the park that is inland from the highway.
Stump Beach Cove
Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve is a small wooded park adjacent to Salt Point State Park. It is filled with rhodies that typically bloom in the spring, but are beautiful year-round. A dirt road passes through the park for a quick visit. Those who want to see more of the reserve can hike the two-mile loop trail which starts at the Kruse Rhododendron parking area. The picnic area and beach access at Fisk Mill Cove is across the highway from the reserve.
In addition to hiking, the park also includes Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve where scuba divers can explore just offshore. The entrance to this “no-take” underwater reserve is at Gerstle Cove where small boats can be launched too. You’ll find this cove directly below the park’s rustic visitor center.
Rhodies at Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve
There are two campgrounds in Salt Point State Park with over 100 total camp sites. Gerstle Cove Campground has about 30 spots on the ocean side of the highway and Woodside Campground has the rest.
Salt Point State Park is located along Highway 1 about equidistant (20 miles each way) from Jenner and Gualala to the north. If you don’t plan to camp, then the closest accommodations are Timber Cove Inn and Fort Ross Lodge. The resort community of Sea Ranch is nearby too and they have a gorgeous lodge and vacation rentals to choose from. Jenner and Gualala also have hotels.
Fort Ross State Historic Park is south of Salt Point. There you’ll find an historic Russian fort from the early 1800’s, a campground, hiking trails, and several more beaches.
Salt Point State Park fine print:
- See the state park map for locations of facilities and for trail designations.
- Several trails are open to mountain bikes which is a rarity in the coastal state parks.
- Mountain bikes are not allowed on the single-track trails as they “can damage wet trail surfaces,” but the trails are open to horses (which don’t damage wet surfaces??).
- Dogs are not allowed on trails, but they can be walked in the campgrounds and other developed areas if they are on a leash.
- Hikers and cyclists are warned to stay on the established trails to avoid contact with poison oak and ticks often found in the vegetation.
- Open fires are not allowed in the park, but barbecues are provided.
Above there’s a map of the park and below is a list of the beaches in the park from south to north.