Error message

Lingotek profile ID 4 not found.
Russian Gulch State Park vc_crtr_borntobewild_module06_mendocinorussianriver_supplied_lukens0298_1280x640

Russian Gulch State Park

Russian Gulch State Park
Hike along coastal bluffs and photograph a graceful historic bridge framing a postcard-perfect slice of Mendocino coast

Two miles north of Mendocino, Russian Gulch State Park protects craggy ocean bluffs, a gracefully arching bridge over Russian Gulch Creek, and a glistening waterfall tucked into a fern-filled grotto. Whether you’re a camper, bicyclist, hiker, photographer, or beachcomber, you’ll find much to explore in this 1,000-acre state park.

The photogenic Russian Gulch Bridge—a 527-foot-long concrete arch that spans Russian Gulch Creek’s sandy cove—connects the park’s dramatic coastal side and tree-hugging inland side. Start your park visit with a walk on the beach under the 100-foot-high bridge, built by the Works Progress Administration in 1939 as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Does it look familiar? Its architecture is similar to the more famous Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, another 1930s public works project. The beach cove is small, but it’s a favorite of scuba divers, who explore an underwater world filled with sea stars, crabs, mussels, oysters, and red abalone. Kids can splash around in the creek’s mellow waters and hunt for shells on the sand.

North of the bridge, pay a visit to Russian Gulch’s glorious headlands. Take an easy stroll on blufftops laced with springtime wildflowers to visit the Devil’s Punchbowl, a 100-foot-wide crater-like blowhole. It’s actually a collapsed sea arch, carved by eons of crashing waves. Sixty feet down on the blowhole’s floor, the ocean rolls gently in and out. Visit during a hearty winter storm and you might be lucky enough to see roiling waves explode through the Punchbowl in a saltwater geyser. These headlands are also a prime spot for whale-watching from December to April and sunset-watching any time of year.

On the park’s inland side, Russian Gulch’s 36-foot-tall waterfall is tucked into a verdant grotto, which you can visit by bicycle or on foot. Start from the trailhead by the park’s 30-site campground. Bicyclists follow the paved Fern Canyon Trail, an old logging road, through a dense riparian forest of second-growth redwoods, Douglas firs, bigleaf maples, alders, and ferns. In the rainy season, you might spot rainbow and steelhead trout swimming upstream in Russian Gulch Creek. At the pavement’s end, lock up your bike and continue on foot to the falls. Hikers can follow the same route or the alternate North Trail—a longer, less-traveled path. Either way, you’ll soon find yourself at a petite-but-picturesque cataract that drops into an inviting pool.

Russian Gulch State Park NC_DuncansCove_Seeff_1280x642_sized_downsized
Tai Power Seeff

Northern California

Discover the North Coast

Russian Gulch State Park vca_maps_northcoast
49
December
Average (°F)
Dec - Feb
55°
High
41°
Low
Mar - May
58°
High
43°
Low
June - Aug
62°
High
51°
Low
Sept - Nov
63°
High
45°
Low

Romance finds a home in this idyllic coastal region, where ocean fog rolls in from the ocean to blanket hushed redwood forests, and whales spout offshore. Along the coast, artists set up their easels to paint scenes of crashing surf and whitewashed cottages wrapped in rose-filled gardens.

Each year, December through May, look to the sea to witness roughly 15,000 gray whales swimming south for the summer.

It’s also a place where a new generation of farmers and winemakers focus on preserving the land as well as producing amazing food and wine. Favorite escapes include the romantic hamlet of Mendocino, roughly a 3-hour drive up the coast from San Francisco, and Eureka, a former logging town 2 hours further north, and the gateway to breathtaking Redwoods National and State Parks.

Russian Gulch State Park vc_ca101_bestbeaches_northcoast_sonomacoaststatepark_rf_171595231_1280x640
Karen Desjardin/Getty Images

Best Beaches on the North Coast

Explore the breathtaking scenery of the wild Sonoma and Mendocino coasts—from sandy shores to the top of a lighthouse

North of San Francisco, there's a whole other world of California, where rugged cliffs, towering redwood trees, and artsy towns dot an idyllic...

Clear Lake, California
Courtesy of County of Lake

Clear Lake

Explore a burgeoning wine scene and cool off with a summery splash in the lake

Take a deep breath the next time you’re in Northern California’s Lake County. That’s some of...

Russian Gulch State Park VCW_D_NC_T5_3274826312_b09df578ae_o_0
Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake within California, is the oldest lake in North America and possibly the world.
Russian Gulch State Park vc_crtr_borntobewild_module_mendocino_st_rf_623667652_1280x640

Spotlight: Mendocino

Russian Gulch State Park vca_maps_northcoast
Discover a coastal paradise with ridiculously fresh seafood, amazing wine, and craft beer

With its dramatic ocean-bluff setting overlooking a steel-blue sea, the coastal hamlet of ...

Russian Gulch State Park VC_Klamath_Stock_RM_B3XYCF_1280x640
Clint Farlinger/Alamy

Klamath

Redwoods, salmon, and California’s largest tribe all thrive in this small North Coast town

Klamath is so far north that many people assume this tiny town is in Oregon, not California. Set along its...

November

Winter rains signal the beginning of the North Coast’s astounding mushroom season. Celebrate the harvest of one of the region’s most loved bounties—and a few other products of the libation variety...

Chefs at work at Feast Mendocino
Brendan McGuigan
The North Coast region of California
SPECIAL FEATURE
From Gold Rush history to the 8th wonder of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

Russian Gulch State Park McWayFalls_JPB_SP_preview_686x885
Amy Meredith/Flickr
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.
John Muir
Russian Gulch State Park vcw_d_mendorino_t9_nc_pointarenalgthouse_seeff_1280x642
At 115 feet, Point Arena Lighthouse is the tallest climbable lighthouse on the West Coast.
Russian Gulch State Park VCW_D_NC_T7_520625157_0b857da159_o
Courtesy of Humboldt County CVB

Ferndale

Visit a Victorian village where time stands still

A fairytale come to life, this remote village features carefully preserved Victorian-era century homes, a visual and architectural feast. On a...

Russian Gulch State Park NC_winecountry_Manley_1280x642
Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

North Coast Wine Country

Slip away to some of the state’s most peaceful vineyards

From quiet vineyards bounded by lush redwood forests along the Mendocino Coast, to the sun-drenched rolling hills of rugged Lake County, the North...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Follow celebrated routes to iconic vineyards and tucked-away surprises

With more than 4,000 wineries statewide, California lets you sample award-winning wines almost anywhere you go. These classic and up-and-coming wine roads—some too packed with wineries to tackle...

Russian Gulch State Park Grapes_WineRoads_SpecialFeature_preview_686x885

Wild North Coast

Russian Gulch State Park FF_VCW_D_NC_T1_RedwoodNP_Manley_0
The Humboldt County Fair began in 1896 and is the oldest running county fair in California.
Russian Gulch State Park VCW_D_NC_T6-Wine & Dine_Seeff_NCA0805
Tai Power Seeff

Wine & Dine in the North Coast

Sample hyper-local foods from land and sea, plus amazing beers and wines

The North Coast might just be the perfect place to eat. Few other places in the world can offer such a harmonious blend of chefs, farmers,...

May

Creativity, contraptions, and costumes—those are the mantras for this wacky three-day Memorial Day weekend event on an out-there stretch of the North Coast. Dubbed the “triathalon of the art world...

The Kinetic Grand Championship on California's North Coast
Erik Fitzpatrick/Flickr
California's North Coast
The rocky coast off Fort Bragg, California
Lucas Himovitz

Fort Bragg

Rough-and-tumble lumber town morphs into a top coastal find

With its century-plus history as a military garrison and then a gritty lumber town, Fort Bragg skirted under the radar of most...

The Skunk Train on California's North Coast
Courtesy of Skunk Train

Skunk Train

Ride a historic train through soaring coast redwoods

Originally built in 1885 to transport redwood logs from the rugged backcountry to the coast, the...

Russian Gulch State Park EurekaCarsonMansion.CourtesyRedwoods.info_
Courtesy of Humboldt County CVB

Eureka

Nature and culture merge in an art-fueled Victorian seaport

This lively seaport town, the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, has split-personality charm: a sense of history in...

Russian Gulch State Park FF_GlassBeach_FortBragg_LH
While now a beautiful coastal treasure, Glass Beach initially began in the late 1940s as a place where locals would toss their trash, including glass bottles.
SPECIAL FEATURE
Find whitewater rafting fun for all—from newbies to nerves-of-steel experts

Think of a river, and chances are you’ve got your own daydream. Maybe you want to float on inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft....

Russian Gulch State Park VC_RiverRafting_Preview_Stock_RM_172652806_686x885
Groveb/Getty Images
Russian Gulch State Park Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.10.39 AM
Tour an inspiring compound dedicated to an almost-lost art

Eric Hollenbeck didn’t plan to be a time traveler, or a museum curator, or a model of how to take care of troubled youth or returning war vets....