Rough-and-tumble coastline, twisting Highway 1, open grasslands, hidden beaches, bluff trails, and a rustic lodge for storm watching from indoors —we’re not talking about Big Sur. We’re talking Sea Ranch and its namesake lodge on the Sonoma Coast. Walk its famous bluff-top trail, a cliff-hugging sensation with soaring Pacific scenery.
It stretches for 10 miles (one-way), but even if you go just a few miles, you’ll be privy to plentiful highlights. Start from Sea Ranch Lodge and head north with the ocean to your left and homes that blend with nature on your right. You’ll soon pass Black Point Beach, accessed via a steep wooden stairway. Whale migration season is starting, so keep an eye out for blowholes on the sea. Harbor seals can sometimes be spotted lounging on two of the area’s marine preserves (the preserves are off-limits, but bluff-trail vantages let you sneak a peek.)
If the tide’s cooperating, hidden beaches and pocket coves along the way make nice resting spots. We like Pebble Beach (about 2 miles in), a lovely crescent cove dramatized by giant driftwood. If it’s a clear day, time your return journey for the magic hour. Sea Ranch Lodge’s Adirondack chairs are prime for catching a sunset. Their bar is a great place to grab a cocktail. Golden moment goes down easy.
Sea Ranch Lodge, 60 Sea Walk Dr., The Sea Ranch. All but one of the 20 rooms have ocean views—perfect for storm watching. Both the bluff-top trail and lodge are dog-friendly!