Pinnacle Gulch is a short, scenic hike to a quiet (and dog friendly!) beach. Wide swaths of sand are perfect for laying out a blanket or tossing the frisbee, and the coastline is dotted with interesting rock formations, boulders, and tide pools teeming with starfish, hermit crabs, snails, and anemones during low tide.
The one-mile trail to the beach, as its name implies, descends into a gulch. It follows a narrow, moderately steep but well-maintained trail lined with cypress, willows, coastal scrub, berries, and wildflowers.
While you may never want to leave this magical spot, you can return the same way you came, or take another trail, the Shorttail Gulch Trail, back to the parking lot. To reach this trail, walk along the beach (to the left if you’re looking at the water) over a couple of rocky areas until you come to a steep wooden stairway on the left. Follow this trail about half a mile, passing a golf course, until you reach the residential neighborhood. Walk through the neighborhood by taking a right onto Osprey Drive, and then a right onto Mockingbird Way back to the parking lot on your right. The total distance of the loop encompassing Pinnacle Gulch and Shorttail Gulch trails, the beach in between, and the neighborhood section is a little under two miles.
Getting to Pinnacle Gulch Trailhead
You will not see signs for Pinnacle Gulch along Route 101 going through Bodega Bay, so follow these step-by-step directions from 101 North:
- Take Exit 479, Railroad Avenue
- Turn left onto West Railroad Avenue, go about half a mile
- Turn right onto Stony Point Road, go 1.7 miles
- Turn left onto Roblar Road, go 6.5 miles
- Turn right onto Valley Ford Road, go 5.5 miles
- Take slight left to follow CA-101 North, go 6.3 miles
- Turn left onto South Harbor Way (it looks like you’re turning into a resort)
- Turn left onto Heron Drive (at this point, you are in a residential area)
- Turn left onto Mockingbird Drive
- Turn left into the parking lot (there is no parking fee, and there is a bathroom). The trail starts right across the street.
Some Photos from the Road . . .
The drive to Pinnacle Gulch Beach is quite scenic. I took these photos in early September, but in the later winter and spring, the landscape would look more like an Irish countryside, with emerald green hills. Wine and cheese tasting is a great way to break up the trip!
Best Clam Chowder Around
If you’ve worked up an appetite after your hike and time at the beach, head back to 101 North towards the Bodega Bay Marina to Spud Point Crab Company. They are famous for their clam chowder (best paired with their excellent sour dough bread), and as a native New Englander, I will say, it is pretty darn good. They also serve other seafood sandwiches, chili, and hot dogs in a casual outdoor setting.