For a superb 8-mile (round-trip) beach-to-beach ramble along a bluffside trail, Kortum Trail on the Sonoma Coast is tops. Crags, coves, cliffs, and amazing views of the Pacific are highlights. Sure, this stretch of coast attracts as much fog as it does hikers, but the good news is it typically burns off by afternoon, and longer days offers plenty of time to finish by dark.
Start at the Kortum Trailhead above Wright’s Beach and follow the trail north to Shell Beach, where a set of wooden stairs descends to a tiny cove often smothered by rough waves during high tide (go at low tide and enjoy some great tide-pooling). Continue on the Kortum Trail, across boardwalks and along singletrack that dips and rises from pocket beaches to big coastal views. Ancient sea stacks get thrashed and smothered by waves, most notably Arched Rock, a favorite for photographers.
The trail veers inland and over a hill, concluding at the spacious, picnic-worthy Blind Beach, reached via a short, slightly steep but well-trodden trail. Return the way you came.
TIP: This hike offers good opportunities to spy gray whales during migration season.
Start the hike at the parking lot right above Wright’s Beach campground, which is 7 miles north of Bodega Bay on Hwy. 1. The Kortum Trail runs north and south; for the route mentioned, go north toward Blind Beach. No dogs on trails, but Wright’s Beach, Shell Beach, and Blind Beach are all dog-friendly!