Peaked Hill
Red Hill
Bodega Head

Wed, Oct 30, 2013
Etymology
Red Hill
Bodega Head
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profile

Continued...

I had to be home in San Jose in the afternoon, leaving me only the morning for a couple of short hikes. All of these were on public lands, easily accessible. I had spent the night sleeping in one of the parking lots at Goat Rock, part of Sonoma Coast State Park. A county sheriff paid me a visit around 7:30a while I was eating breakfast inside, shortly after waking. While she was running my plates and driver's license to make sure I wasn't wanted on any warrants, she reminded me that camping inside the park is forbidden anywhere that's not an actual campground. Like-wise, parking along Hwy 1 is forbidden anywhere inside Sonoma County. Without being asked, she explained that the purpose of the ordinances were to deter homeless folks who would otherwise overrun the coastal scenery, presumeably ruining the experience for more legitimate visitors. Assured I was carrying no drugs, guns or other elements deemed dangerous, she let me off without issuing a citation.

Peaked Hill

This oddly named summit is located within Goat Rock, less than five minutes off the access road I had driven in on. It has little prominence, but it does have a legit trail leading to its summit, a benchmark, and a very fine view of the coast, looking south to north. To the east, early morning coastal fog was breaking up surprising early, revealing Red Hill a few miles in that direction.

Red Hill

I had initially assumed Red Hill was on private ranch from the looks of it, but was happy to find it is also part of the State Park system, just down the highway a short distance from Goat Rock and Peaked Hill. I found a trailhead by accident, across the highway from the entrance to Shell Beach. I parked on the Shell Beach access road, which wasn't signed for No Parking, but my earlier visit had me worried I might be an unwitting scofflaw. I later learned this was one of two access THs for Red Hill, the other from the north via Willow Creek/Pomo Canyon. The trail follows along an old jeep road initially, eventually forking and becoming a single track. A small redwood grove is located on the north side of the summit, the trail going through it on one side, and then out another. It was a very abrupt change of ecosystem, from open grassy slopes to redwood fern grotto. The summit itself is a flat, open grass hill. There is a fine view of the Russian River delta to the northwest. Behind to the east is the higher Kroeber BM which I had visited the previous evening. Overall, a rather serene view spot.

Bodega Head

After returning to the van, I continued south on Hwy 1, taking in the beautiful Sonoma Coast along the way. Ten miles south is Bodega Bay and Harbor, made famous by Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds in 1963. Bodega Head is the small spit of land that helps form the natural harbor. With a few hundred feet of prominence, it offers a good view of the surrounding area. The San Andreas Rift Zone cuts across the harbor, making Bodega Head part of the Pacific Plate. I had no information on how to actually reach the highpoint, whether there was any trail or even if it was on public land. Turns out there is a very nice parking area at the end of the road on the west side of Bodega Head with an easy, maintained trail leading to the summit. Not knowing this, I parked at a turnout on the east side, and followed a use trail of sorts through a jungly grotto, up to the mesa, and then northwest to the highpoint, discovering the legit trail only moments before reaching the top. The views are pretty nice, but only as good as 265ft of elevation can get you. I was just happy that the fog had cleared, providing a nice view of the harbor and bay. On the return, I used the trail network, first south to a junction, then north towards a campground located north of the UC marine laboratory. Once I reached the marine lab access road, I followed the roads back to where I had parked, getting back before 10:30a. Time to head home...

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