Sportsmens Report
June 22, 2018
link to facebook link to twitter

Scenic coastal drives good for a daytrip

By: Bill Hanson
March 2, 2018
Sportsman's Report

Driving the backroads of Sonoma County today brings a sense of pride in the beautiful place we call home. Take Coleman Valley Road for example, this little beauty starts in picturesque Occidental. You wind your way west up through deep redwood forests, some holding moss and ferns during all but the summer months. There are only a few roads that cross or intersect on your ride to the coast so you won’t get lost. About halfway in, say 20 minutes or so, you are on the ridge-tops of the coastal range and the views are stunning. At one point the view goes for 50 miles. Passing a pasture of sheep, the lambs dance around with their pals, leaping straight up like a frightened cat, very amusing to view. 

At one part of the climb, the ocean is revealed, vast, blue and beautiful. Even on a Sunday the road was barely traveled, stopping in the middle of the road to take in the sights is acceptable behavior. 

Sliding down the winding trail to the coastal highway, you will pass through a huge grove of eucalyptus. Stop and breath in the intoxicating, peppery air and the salty breeze of clean ocean air. Once on the highway you can turn right, north, to cross the Russian River or go left to Bodega Bay. 

One very cool side trip is to go to ‘The Head.’ To get there, you will turn at the kite store and skip around the bay and be sure to check out the fishing boats at the Spud Point Marina. The road begins a steep climb up which will give you a postcard view of the bay and the little hamlet of Bodega. Be careful on the winding trail up, it is one of the most traveled backroads in the county and one of the worst — pot holes threaten to rip out your drive line and swallow small cars. However, the bumpy ride is worth it when you get to the parking area. Bodega Head is like standing on the top deck of an ocean liner. Be sure you put on your jacket and zip up, the wind is strong and cold. Whales pass by on their migration within easy view of your perch. A gallery of shore birds passes along by clipping the wind with their wings. A word of caution here, the cliffs are very dangerous, keep the young ones close in hand. There is a small beach down the trail north of the parking area, be very careful, the waves can be treacherous. 

On the drive back to the highway the salt water taffy shop is a dangerous and tasty stop. The road takes you through all the tourist spots and past the turnoff for the county gem, Doran Park. The beach there is perfect for a picnic or to just stop and dip your toes in the chilly surf. The bay-side water is full of shore birds. The little peepers that fly in formation and the Sandpipers, with their backwards knees constantly drilling for morsels in the sand, are a hoot to watch.

Back out on Highway One, the ride back to Rohnert Park is only half an hour if you turn at Pepper Road, then to Mecham Road past the dumps. It is a country drive you can repeat and never get enough of the raw beauty we call home.


Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.