The California coast is rarely described without awe and wonder. If you aren’t looking for a strenuous hike, but do want the spectacular views and awe-inspiring experiences that come from the majesty of the pawsome California coastline, then it’s time for you to visit the Mendocino Headlands State Park. And best of all, your adventure pup can join you!
Not only is it one of the most breathtaking coastal state parks, but the Mendocino Headlands State Park is also one of the few California state parks to allow dogs to hike alongside you on trails and explore the beaches. This large park surrounds the small town of Mendocino off of Highway 1, just 15 minutes south of Fort Bragg, and is well worth the trip!
In the small village community, you'll find museums, shops and cafes, but the real treasure is in the lands of the park. There are two sections, one right on the coast near the village that features stunning cliffs and ocean views, as well as many points of access to the Pacific Ocean. Two public beaches give a safe place to play in the sand and surf, just be sure to keep the leash on your pup at all times. Portuguese Beach can be accessed off a trail at the end of Main Street, while the larger Big River Beach is right where the Big River spills out into the ocean. Trails meander through this area and along the coastline, making for a spectacular walk your dog will love.
For a little more off the beaten path adventure, head to the big section below the town that surrounds the Big River. This 7,400 acre area traverses various habitats like wetlands and river coast. Kayaks and canoes love to explore the river, which is frequented by harbor seals and other wildlife. The Big River Trail follows the river for those who'd rather keep their paws on the ground.
While there is no camping available, the park is open all day for free. Restrooms can be found in some areas, but be prepared for none in the more off the beaten track areas. Be sure to bring clean-up bags and always pick up after your pup. Have water on hand to share, as well as some snacks. And always keep your dog leashed wherever you travel in this vast park.
For a stunning outdoor adventure your pup won't soon furget, head to the Mendocino Headlands State Park today!