Big River Ramble

It's not just the rollicking Pacific smothering the coastline that makes Mendocino such a spectacular setting. It's also…

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It’s not just the rollicking Pacific smothering the coastline that makes Mendocino such a spectacular setting. It’s also the fact that it lies at the mouth of the Big River, a mint-colored estuary that flows for miles. Big River isn’t named for its size, but for the huge redwoods that used to flank it. These days the logging has been replaced by recreation and the river is a great place to paddle your canoe or ride your bike along its banks. Big River Trail gently rolls along the northern side of the river, making an ideal 13-mile (round-trip) mountain bike ride fit for beginners. The first few miles are especially scenic, with the river in frequent view. Keep an eye out for the elusive river otters that make the area their home. Farther back, the foliage gets thicker with brief glimpses of the river whose color begins to darken. At 6.6 miles the trail forks, and that’s where we recommend turning around. Head back to the mouth of the river and stop for a post-ride respite at Big River Beach. Big wheels keep on turning …

TIP: Catch a Canoe and Bicycles Too (on the south side of Big River at the Stanford Inn) rents bikes by the hour and the day. They also have an outstanding map of Big River Trail, which anyone can pick up at their shop for free.

The turnoff for Big River Trail is just north of the bridge over Big River. Dog-friendly!

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