Hiking, Backpacking, Camping

Weekend in Mendocino, CA

About one month ago, AirBnb sent me a lovely message informing me that my credits (aka free travel money) were expiring soon! I could not let an opportunity for discounted lodging pass by, so I called up my weekend adventure friend, Pammy, and we decided on a quick one night getaway to Mendocino: far enough away to feel like a vacation, and close enough to not have to drive all day long.


Our first stop was Bowling Ball Beach. As usual, when you only have a very limited time in places (and have a lot you want to see), you have to go with the flow. We had checked the tide tables beforehand and knew as we rolled up that we had missed low tide, and the "bowling balls" may or may not be visible. They were not visible. We still enjoyed walking on the beach and stretching our legs after the 3.5 hour drive. We even saw a cute seal bobbing around a little ways from the shore.


After the uphill hike back to the car, we continued north and came upon Greenwood State Beach in Elk. We scampered down to the beach and walked along the shore. We were surprised how empty the beach was since it was a Saturday afternoon. We marveled at the large rocks in the ocean with arches carved out of them and ran our hands through the minuscule black rocks that comprised the beach.


We were getting pretty hungry at this point, so we finally made our way into downtown Mendocino for some lunch and window shopping, and to decide what to do with the rest of our day, since it was suddenly 3 pm! We wanted to see a lighthouse (we like lighthouses) so we drove north to the Point Cabrillo lighthouse and wandered around for a little bit. The lighthouse is so cute, it looked like a toy!

And the coast was so pretty in this spot too.


We also needed to get a hike in, and since our daylight hours were quickly dwindling, we drove to the next door Russian Gulch State Park and hiked to a nice little waterfall! I love the costal forests, especially when its foggy and moody.

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But I also love coastal forests when the sun finally breaks through for 5 minutes and everything turns golden!

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After enjoying the waterfall, we briskly hiked back to the car: we still had one destination left for the day: Glass Beach in Fort Bragg! We didn't really know what to expect here: we both thought we'd see larger sea glass pieces like the ones we see in Monterey, but the sheer quantity of tiny glass was astounding. Unfortunately, we saw many visitors collecting bags of this sea glass, which is not allowed at this beach. Leave No Trace, people! Imagine if everyone who visited collected a bag full of the glass. Soon, glass beach would just be "beach".


We hung around the beach for a little bit, hoping the fog would break to see a little bit of a sunset, but we were socked in. And we were hungry again! After dinner in Fort Bragg, we drove (very slowly - the fog was so thick) to our AirBnb just south of Fort Bragg. Our host was very lovely and her house was so charming! After chatting for a bit, we all headed off to bed, and we figured out what to do the next day.

The next morning got off to a bit of a slow start, but hey, we were on vacation. This time, I was the one to blame since I drifted back to sleep even after our alarm went off. After some more chatting with our host, we drove back into town for breakfast and then over to the Big River to kayak. Once we got to the rental store, we were quickly convinced to try out the Outrigger Canoe (like Moana!). And we are so glad we did! It was so fun paddling in one: we felt like we were gliding over the water, and the rudder was controlled by foot pedals, so we didn't have to worry about coordinated steering.


We saw a ton of wildlife: cranes, ducks, fowl, jumping fish, a family of four river otters, and this adorable harbor seal who was chilling on this perfect rock all morning.

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We thought we'd only be on the water for an hour or two, but we were out for 3 hours admiring the beauty of the river. We were even lucky enough to see the sun come out for the last bit of our paddle.

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After returning our canoe, it was time to make the drive back to the Bay Area. With so little time, its hard to do everything, but we have plenty more to explore for the next time we wind up in Mendocino!

TravelEmily Schrick