Hiking off the beaten path
Over and over again, guests and visitors ask us such questions as, “What’s the best place around here to go for a shortish walk?” “What’s your favorite hike in Mendocino?” To be honest, there are so many delightful walks in the Mendocino area, from short strolls to lively treks, from ocean views to redwood groves, that it is hard to pick any one favorite.
For those who are in the mood for something away from the crowds though, one walk that continually stands out in our minds is the trail at Spring Ranch. Roughly a half-mile south of the Brewery Gulch Inn, the northern trail head for this quiet path heads west from a rugged dirt parking lot towards the cliffs and the ocean waves crashing just beneath them. Now, we mentioned that the parking lot is “rugged.” This fact, along with the lack of large signs pointing out that this is one of the jewels of the State Parks, means we almost always have the trail pretty much to ourselves whenever we go out there.
One of our innkeepers described a recent visit to Spring Ranch as “solitary and majestic.” She went on to say:
“It was a glorious morning for watching the waves. The warmth of the sun was gently coaxing the dew from the ground in a misty sheen that mixed with the spray from the sea. And what a sea it was. No limp, lax waves were these, whispering softly in the sands. No, these were great, crashing things whose turgid swells brought to mind elephants and rolling grey whales. They reared back from the underwater rocks to fall upon them with greater strength, their roar causing us to raise our voices to be understood. And so to avoid constant shouting we were for the most part silent, eating apples from a friend’s tree as we started out at the ocean.
When at last we tossed away our stems and seeds, brushed off our pants, and continued on, these waves stayed with us, accompanying our stroll along the cliffs. Their spray spread a veil of mystery over the southward cypress groves. Their crashing was the voice that echoed through the elfin pine tree forest even farther south. They leapt up to greet us when we came back to the edge of the cliffs and looked down. And as we followed the path back to the car, they rocked the buoy whose warning bell came faintly to us on the wind, rustling through the grasses of the coastal prairie.”
But don’t take her word for it – go experience it for yourselves! Go on, get away from the beaten Mendocino paths that every visitor treads, and go take in a little bit of the poetic, solitary grandeur of the trails of Spring Ranch. Then come back to the inn at the end of your day and tell us all about it. We look forward to hearing about your own experiences!
Written by Laura Hockett