In the heart of Anderson Valley, Hendy Woods State Park is rarely crowded, especially in winter, and has a star attraction: ancient redwoods. There’s an easy 2-mile (round-trip) hike among the redwoods via the Discovery and Upper Loop trails. Meander among 300-foot coastal redwoods in Big Hendy Grove, a cathedral-like canopy of redwoods.
Or take a drive to some hidden beach bliss. Located in the tiny town of Elk on scenic Highway 1, Greenwood State Beach is easy to miss because it’s a half-mile walk down to it from the parking area. Before you hike down, pick up some fresh sandwiches directly across the street from the trailhead at Elk Store. The crescent-shaped beach is large, and decorated by hulking driftwood brought in by more tempestuous waters.
Backed by 40-foot cliffs, this beach seems to elude a lot of human visitors, though you’re likely to see cormorants and great egrets standing atop the thick kelp ropes. There’s a tranquil tidal estuary, and offshore in the near distance giant sea stacks with arches and keyholes are particularly photogenic: Gunderson Rock, Wharf Rock, and Casket Rock. Spread a blanket or find a picnic table and take in the scenic show.