NorCal Coastal Trails: Point Reyes and Sonoma Coast

It’s been almost two years since I have moved to the SF Bay Area.  Needless to say, the outdoors options around here are seemingly endless.  However, one area often gets overlooked when considering places to go play and run: the Northern California coast.  You get a bit of a taste competing in any of the numerous trail races held in the Marin Headlands and many of us have probably been to Point Reyes.  But how about north of that?

My knowledge of the NorCal coastline is weak at best, but my goal is to start changing that by running beautiful coastal trails and reporting back. The idea is for this to become a series, and I will try to provide as much information as possible to make planning easier for future runners and hikers.  First up: Point Reyes and Sonoma Coast State Beach.

Point Reyes

Many are familiar with the beauty of Point Reyes.  It serves as a wonderful preserve for plants and animals alike and is under federal protection.  I chose to start my run from Point Reyes Hostel.  From there it’s a gentle downhill to the ocean.

Coast Trail at Santa Maria Beach (looking south)

The trail is a fireroad that spits out at the ocean after about 1.5 miles.  From there it’s a wonderful run south along the water and through a number of coves.  I ran to Point Resistance, which was about 5.5 miles one way from the hostel.  There are many more miles of trail here, so this is great long run territory.

Point Resistance

Trail name: Coast Trail

Total distance: Not sure.  At least 10 or 12 miles if not longer.

Technical trail: 0-1 (out of 5)

Hilly: 1-2 (out of 5)

Drinking water: I did not see any, however there are a lot of trailheads, so I cannot be sure.  I ran this trail in March and the creeks were running, so that is a potential source as well.

Maps at trailheads: no

Online Map

Distance Covered: Point Reyes Hostel to Point Resistance and back (11 miles)

Sonoma Coast State Beach

What a treasure this place is!  Located just north of Bodego Bay, the Sonoma Coast is beautiful and rugged and actually a collection of beaches in beautiful coves.  The flat-as-a-pancake Kortum Trail (referred to on the official website as the “Sonoma Coast Trail“) takes you along the edge of the bluffs overlooking the coastline.

Kortum Trail heading into Furlong Gulch

If you’re like me and into rugged coast with waves crashing into rocks just off the shoreline, this place is for you.  In the springtime, you get the added benefit of flowers covering the coastal tundra atop the bluffs.

I love this place!

I love this place!

The Kortum Trail is about 4.5 miles long and runs from Wright Beach at the south end to Goat Rock at the north terminus.  It can be accessed from each of the parking lots in between.  All of them are right off the 1.

Sonoma Coast State Beach

The Sonoma Coast is easy to get to and great for family outings as well.  I will definitely bring my wife back here.

Trail name: Kortum Trail or Sonoma Cost Trail

Total distance: 4.5 miles

Technical trail: 1 (out of 5)

Hilly: 0-1 (out of 5)

Drinking water: none

Maps at trailheads: yes (no portable maps though)

The map online is terrible.  At each of the trailheads, you’ll find a sign with a much more detailed map (see picture below).  Then again, the map is much less needed for directional purposes and more for knowing what gorgeous rock formation you’re looking at.

Kortum Trail Map

Distance covered: Wright Beach to Arch Rock and back (6 miles)

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