Mendocino County is home to several California state parks, including Russian Gulch State Park located along the scenic Highway 1 only two miles north of the town of Mendocino. Featuring picturesque bridges and hidden coves, Russian Gulch State Park is a hidden gem. Many describe it as a small-scale Big Sur, and if you are looking for coastal bluffs, beach days, Redwoods, and camping all in one location, then look no further.
The Russian Gulch State Park is part of a series of loosely interconnected state parks and forests along the northern California coast. You and your family can traverse over 15 miles of hiking trails in this state park alone, all of which are connected to over 74,000 acres of natural space set aside for conservation.
People come from all over to hike, fish, dive for abalone, kayak, and camp, and the best part of all: Russian Gulch State Park is dog-friendly! Dogs are allowed on the beach, which is not common in California, provided that they are leashed. They are also allowed in campsites and picnic areas. They are not allowed on trails that go inland but hiking along paved roads is allowed.
California Department of Parks and Recreation manages Russian Gulch State Park, and day use requires only payment of an entrance fee. Park rangers are incredibly helpful in directing you onto a trail suitable for your time allowance and skill level, and if you have time, Devil’s Punchbowl is one of the most remarkable sinkholes in the area.
If you are only coming in to marvel at the natural beauty of the sea and the rocky bluffs, check out the picnic area on the cliffs overlooking the beach. Dogs love to walk around in this area, just be sure to keep your dog nearby and safe! Any of the state parks in Mendocino County are worth visiting, but Russian Gulch, in particular, offers a protected beach and spectacular hiking trails that will stay with you long after you leave.