Late afternoons on the Sonoma Coast can be sublime, with gorgeous sunlight. One of the best places for it? Jenner Headlands Preserve on the Sonoma Coast.
This 5,630-acre park overlooking the mouth of the Russian River is home to Goat Rock, an icon here amidst the expanse of the Pacific. Do a 1.6-mile out-and-back (round-trip) hike to an overlook.
Start your hike a few hours before sunset on the Sea to Sky Trail, the only trail leading out of the parking lot.
When you reach the large cypress tree, take a minute and gaze over towards the small inlet where the Russian River meets the ocean.
This estuary area is teeming with life and is marked by Goat Rock, the first large outcropping off the coast that you can see. Continue up the hill through coastal prairie and chaparral.
The trail gradually climbs to an overlook with such a stellar vantage you may feel as if you’re flying above the sea. As the day comes to a close, head back down the hill and enjoy the views as the sun sets across the horizon.
BONUS EATS: River’s End is a fantastic place to end the day. The restaurant is aptly named for its beautifully set location near the Russian River’s entrance into the Pacific. Grab a drink before dinner and head out onto the patio to enjoy the sunset.
The Jenner Headlands parking lot is located just north of downtown Jenner on Hwy. 1. Jenner Headlands is dog-friendly. No dogs at River’s End.