Pelican Bluffs

Another must-see coastal access trail

An untouched beach along Pelican Bluffs.

An untouched beach along Pelican Bluffs.

Remember last week, when we talked about a number of small coastal trails we had recently explored? We crossed another one off the list this week when we did a short day trip down to Point Arena, and true to promise, here we are to tell you all about it!

We sighted the parking area for the Pelican Bluffs Trail roughly one mile south of the small town of Point Arena on Highway 1 and eased into the shady little lot on the outer edge of a small bishop pine forest. We weren’t completely sure what to expect, as every successive walk on the list we were following (put out by the Mendocino Land Trust) had been so unique and different from the trail before.  But one thing we knew for sure – it was bound to be beautiful.

We headed along the path that went straight west from the car, moving deeper into the pines. We wound down through the trees, switching back and forth as we stepped over gnarled old roots. A raven perched in some nearby branches called out to us, echoing our voices and laughter in its own cackling simulation of speech. Right as we were chuckling up at the talkative bird, the trail popped out of the woods, and we found ourselves at the top of a rise, with the toasted gold of the summertime coastal prairie spreading out below in a whispering blanket toward the cliffs. The fog hung close to the bluffs yet still couldn’t quite obscure the moody turquoise expanse of the ocean that was drawing us out. It was sweepingly, stunningly gorgeous.

We had to stop and gaze for a few moments... and remember to breath. We walked on, soaking it all in.

Once down at the cliff edge, we decided to take the leg of trail to the south, as it seemed to auger really good views of the cliffs themselves. And boy howdy did it ever! The path hugged the edge of the cliffs, each winding turn giving a fresh vista of bluffs, coves, and geological formations. There was an endless variety of striation patterns in the rock of the cliffs, odd effects of erosion, and other interesting reminders of the epic forces of nature that formed and continue to form this coastline. When we headed back to the north and took the loop back to the parking area, we were rewarded with a glorious outlook over the whole 73 acres of this preserve.

A  tiny little beauty hiding in the rattlesnake grass.

A tiny little beauty hiding in the rattlesnake grass.

Another unknown beauty

The grand, expansive views were not the only lovely part of the walk either – the wildflowers dotting the fringes of the trail were continually pulling our eyes down to the ground immediately in front of us as we marveled at their color and delicacy. There weren’t as many flowers as there would be in spring, but there were still quite a few to brighten the path. Frilly dandelions, scarlet pimpernel, asters, bird’s foot trefoil, blue-eyed grass, star thistle, brilliantly white yarrow, daisies, and a host of other little shots of pink and purple and light blue and white lit up the browning grasses.

By the time we made it back to the car, we had logged roughly 3 miles of meandering through what may have become our new favorite. Seriously. We’re going back with a picnic soon!

 There was another element of this particular day trip south involving safari land rovers and extremely large African mammals… Look out for our story on that soon!

What a view!

What a view!

Written by Laura Hockett