Starting the drive up the Redwood Coast
Drive another half-hour and you'll find yourself at a Russian Fort. Fort Ross is a former Russian settlement at the northern end of Sonoma County just south of Mendocino County. This former Russian-American Company trading post was built on a bluff above the Pacific, about a half an hour’s drive north of the mouth of the Russian River. This was the farthest penetration south by the nineteenth century Russians. The park grounds are open half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset each day. The Visitor Center, Bookstore, and Fort Compound are open from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM each day.
A little further north is Timber Cove, a small community located on the rugged and secluded northern California coastline. The locals love it for its quiet beauty and wilderness.
Although not a town, Stillwater Cove is a 210 acre park that includes a campground, a half-mile trail to the historic one-room Fort Ross Schoolhouse, picnic facilities, a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, open meadows mixed with coastal forest, ocean access and a small beach. A loading zone but no parking is available at the cove.
Continuing north the next stop is the town of Ocean Cove, that is the cove and surrounding land is primarily the campground and store, and is privately owned. The location offers access for divers and other ocean lovers.
Traveling a little further north is Salt Point. It is an area comprising the 6,000 acres of Salt Point State Park, with twenty miles of hiking trails, over six miles of rugged coastline, and an underwater Marine Reserve.
Salt Point State Park provides the visitor spectacular vistas of the ocean, with rugged offshore rocks and steep sea cliffs that take the full impact of the waves. Visitors to the park can enjoy a variety of activities including picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, skin and SCUBA diving, and camping. Habitats within the park change from coastal grassland to forests of Bishop pine, madrone, tanoak, and redwoods. There is also a large open "prairie" filled with wildflowers in the spring and a pygmy forest of stunted cypress, pine and even redwoods.
The Gerstle Cove is found within the boundaries of the park and is part of the marine reserve and features the first underwater preserves in California. The constant impact of the waves forms the rocks into many different shapes. These rocks continue underwater providing a wide variety of habitats for marine organisms. In the 1800’s, this area was know for timber and sawmills. The eyebolts used to anchor ships down are still visible at Gerstle cove No marine life may be taken from within the clearly marked reserve boundaries. Access is between Sonoma County mile markers 39 and 40.
Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve is located adjacent to Salt Point State Park. This pristine reserve contains second-growth redwood, Douglas fir, grand firs, tanoaks, and a plethora of rhododendrons. Each May these spectacular flowers burst into bloom and color the deep green of the forest with brilliant pink blossoms. There are five miles of hiking trails through the quiet forest with a short loop trail that leads through clusters of rhododendrons.
Stewarts Point is the last official town before reaching The Sea Ranch.
The town consist of a country store and post office. The store has been a family owned business, "in the family" since it's establishment in 1868 just after the Civil War. The community was named for Lt. Col. C.S. Stewart of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and sits at an elevation of 108 feet. The post office services less than 150 residents.