The Big River Trail is a relatively new addition to the state park system. In 2002, a special land sale allowed the Mendocino Land Trust to add over 7,000 acres to Mendocino Woodlands State Park. Since then, Big River Trail has been a popular hike for locals and those visiting the area!
This trail stretches from the parking lot of Mendocino Woodlands State Park all the way to Main Street in the town of Mendocino, CA. You can walk the path in either direction. You'll have to arrange another way back to your origin point unless you want to turn this into an 11+ mile round trip! Your dog is allowed to explore the trails with you as long as you keep them on leash.
If you start in the Mendocino Woodlands State Park, follow the signs to Big River Trail. The path is easy to navigate, as it sticks right by Big River. The marshy estuary is home to turtles, native birds, and deer! The walk is long, but flat and not especially difficult. If you're walking it in the summer months, feel free to stop at any point to cool off in the ocean or the river! Your dog has to stay on leash, so wade in with them for the best cooling effects! Be aware that mosquito and other biting insects are common; bug spray will help you stay safe. You'll follow the water all the way out to where it empties out at Big River Beach!
Big River Beach marks the end of the trail. If you want to turn back, you can. Most people instead climb the stairs behind the beach. This takes you up to the parking lot for the Mendocino Presbyterian Church. This historic church is located on Main Street in the town of Mendocino. This is where you can park your car if you want to walk the trail in the other direction!
Whether you like birding, swimming, or plain hiking, Big River Trail has something for you and your adventurous pup!