Walk On Beach Sea Ranch Access Trail

40101 Highway 1, Sea Ranch

  • Beaches
  • Birding
  • Hiking/Walking Trails

Hours: Summer - 6 a.m. to sunset; Winter - 8 a.m. to sunset

Parking: Free. The trailhead is clearly marked on the west side of Highway 1. Visitors should use caution entering and exiting these parking lots.

Dogs: Permitted on leash no longer than 6 feet. License required.

Restrictions: Please stay on the marked public access trails as the other paths and roads within The Sea Ranch are privately owned. Campfires are not allowed on beach. RVs and trailers are not allowed in the parking lot.

Ranger Phone: (707) 785-2377

Sonoma County Regional Parks manages six public access trails in The Sea Ranch, a private community south of Gualala. Trails start at Highway 1 parking areas and cross bluff-top meadows and forests to rugged coastline. Cliffside staircases lead to secluded beaches with sandy coves, tide pools, and rock formations. In addition to hiking, these public access points offer opportunities for diving, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing. 

Walk On Beach Trail connects to Bluff Top Trail, which leads south to Walk On Beach. Public access to this beach was closed for years due to trail erosion, but repairs were completed in July of 2014 and access is fully restored.

The Sea Ranch public access trails (north to south):

  • Bluff Top Trail - 3 miles one way - Runs along the headlands from Walk On Beach to Gualala Point Regional Park
  • Walk on Beach Trail - .25 miles one way - Passes through a large grove of Monterey cypress to a wide, sandy, quarter-mile beach reached via a bluff-top staircase. From Walk on Beach Trail, hikers can follow Bluff Top Trail north to Gualala Point Regional Park.
  • Shell Beach Trail - .65 miles one way - Wide sandy beach dotted with sea rocks and tide pools. Ramp to walk small boats to the ocean.
  • Stengel Beach Trail - .12 miles one way - Small sandy beach reached by a steep staircase. Look for seasonal waterfalls spilling over the bluff. Stengel has the largest parking lot of the public trails, with room for a dozen cars.
  • Pebble Beach Trail - .27 miles one way – Small sandy cove reached by a steep staircase.
  • Black Point Trail - .25 miles one way – Long, curving beach reached by a steep staircase.

Trails Challenge

PDF fileView larger image of Coastal Access Trails - Trails Challenge Map Bluff Top Trail and Sea Ranch Coastal Access Trails
Highway 1, The Sea Ranch

This park is featured in the Sonoma County Trails Challenge, which invites you to get out and get active by hiking five of 15 routes highlighted in the updated Trails Challenge guidebook. Submit a trails log when you finish all five hikes and get a free Trails Challenge gift!

Suggested trail: Bluff Top Trail or any combination of the Coastal Access Trails
Trail length: .24 to 6 miles round trip
Degree of Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Elevation Gain: 0 to 150 feet, depending on trail

Trail symbols for walk, hike, run, and dogs on leash

Park Notes

  • The Sea Ranch is a private oceanfront community south of Gualala. Five public access trails within The Sea Ranch lead to dramatic coastal views and isolated beaches. A sixth trail – Bluff Top Trail - follows the headlands from Walk On Beach Trail to Gualala Point Regional Park and is a beautiful way to see this coastline’s unique geology.
  • The coastal access trails – Walk On Beach, Black Point, Pebble Beach, Stengel Beach, and Shell Beach – cross meadows and forests to secluded beaches reached by stairs or paths. Beaches here are rarely crowded, and offer refreshing escapes from inland summer temperatures.
  • Parking lots are located along 7 miles of Highway 1. Each has restrooms, no drinking water.

Trail Notes (one-way distances)

  • Bluff Top Trail - 3 miles – Start from Walk On Beach trailhead. Weave along the grassy, windswept headlands, walking through cypress groves and admiring sea stacks of honeycombed sandstone.
  • Walk on Beach Trail - .25 miles - Follow a cypress grove to a sandy beach. Connects to Bluff Top Trail.
  • Shell Beach Trail - .65 miles - Walk through pines and meadow to a sandy beach with tide pools and sea stacks.
  • Stengel Beach Trail - .12 miles - Pocket beach reached by a long, wooden staircase. Seasonal waterfall.
  • Pebble Beach Trail - .27 miles - Small, black-sand cove with tide pools and driftwood. Reached by stairs.
  • Black Point Trail - .25 miles - Cross a meadow to a curving, quarter-mile beach reached by cliff-side stairs.

Trail Directions

  • To reach the Bluff Top Trail from Walk On Beach Trail, park in the Walk On Beach lot at 40101 Highway 1 and follow the trail west for about .25 miles to the junction of Bluff Top Trail.
  • Follow the Bluff Top Trail north to Gualala Point Regional Park. When you arrive at the park, take a break at the Whale Watch Point bench or continue down to Gualala’s beautiful, wide beach.
  • On the beach, you’ll likely find large, creative driftwood structures erected by other beachcombers. You also can explore the Gualala River estuary, where the river enters the ocean and seals and sea lions like to haul out.
  • Return to Walk On Beach the way you came. This hike is a little more than 6 miles round trip and will take about 2 to 4 hours depending on your pace. The length can be shortened by turning back on Bluff Top Trail any time before you reach Gualala Point.

Driving Directions

  • From Jenner, drive north on Highway 1. The Coastal Access trailheads are located along seven miles of Highway 1 in The Sea Ranch. The Walk on Beach trailhead is the northernmost access point before Gualala Point Regional Park.
  • Parking is free at The Sea Ranch trails and $7 at Gualala Point Regional Park.

View Map and Get Directions

Safety Alert!

Watch out for sleeper waves which are common along the north coast.

Trails Challenge logo

Thank you, Trails Challenge Hikers

Congratulations to everyone who completed this year's challenge. Hundreds of participants took to the trails this summer and fall to get healthy, spend time with family and friends, and discover new parks. We're already thinking up new Trails Challenge adventures for next year, and hope you'll join us again.

Download the Trails Guide to Use Year-Round:

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PDF fileNorth Coast Trails Map (2.09 MB) (PDF)

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