Just Dune It!

Coastal wildflowers are still going strong at Manchester State Park in Mendocino County, where dune-top hiking trails colored…

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Coastal wildflowers are still going strong at Manchester State Park in Mendocino County, where dune-top hiking trails colored in baby blue eyes and purple lupine dance across the nearly 5 miles of undulating sands. Go on a coastal hike and spend the night camping just down the road. First-come, first-served Manchester State Beach Campground has 41 sites nestled in grassland, making a perfect seaside launch pad for traversing the wildflower-speckled paths paralleling the sea. Distant farmland and flocks of sheep lend pastoral charm as views sweep south to Point Arena. Take the Davis Wetlands Trail north from the campground for a 5-mile (round-trip) coastal hike to the beach’s northern boundary at Alder Creek.

The path meanders through dunes and fields past Davis Lake Pond before monumental piles of shipwrecked driftwood mark the spot. Unleash your furry friend (dogs may roam free!), scan for steelhead lurking below, and wave goodbye to the northernmost section of the San Andreas Fault as it crosses from land into the sea.

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BONUS: A 6-mile drive takes you to Point Arena Lighthouse and its 145 spiraling steps that lead up to beautiful panoramic ocean vistas.

Manchester State Park Campground is on the Mendocino County coast, 6 miles north of Point Arena on Hwy. 1. It is open Friday through Sunday only on a first-come, first-served basis. No reservations. Camping $25/night; no day-use fee. Day parking located past the campground at the end of Kinney Rd. Dogs allowed on leash, and they can roam free at Alder Creek. Davis Wetlands Trail extends 2.5 miles north from the campground to Alder Creek.

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