It’s July, it’s hot. The hubs and I headed up the coast to explore Stillwater Cove Regional Park and enjoy the cooler temps. We pulled into the parking lot and parked in a mostly empty parking lot. The hubs gets out to get the hiking shoes from the trunk and quietly tells me “it smells like semen out here”. Of course the 12 year old in me giggles then takes a whiff and whoa! It totally smells like semen! Happily we figured out it was the Pyrus Calleryana (non native Pear tree) in bloom that was the culprit of this distinctive smell. So that is how we started the hike…giggling.
Just off the parking lot we headed down the well marked path to the Canyon Loop trail. You are immediately greeted by a lush forest floor, towering trees and bits of fog hanging on in the forest. As you walk along you are surrounded by ferns, young redwoods, firs, and the fringed corn lily only found along the Sonoma / Mendocino coast. Meander down the trail and hang a right to take the Canyon Loop trail.
We headed up the Stockhoff Trail to the Dead End trail. This part you can skip unless you are looking for a little more elevation and exercise. As you climb up the hill you gain gorgeous views of the canyon below but then start to lose some of the lushness of the forest canyon below. The trail is wide, easy to walk on and full of beautiful spider webs to walk through. We went up about a mile and turned around before the end since there were no views and we only packed for a 3.5 mile hike. We ended up hiking a total of 5 miles which were all pretty easy.
Back on the Canyon Loop trail we followed Stockhoff Creek along looking for the fringed corn lily and enjoying the scenery. While we found the plants, they weren’t in bloom yet. We did see a small fish in the creek though! The trail winds along the creek and comes to a point where you need to rock hop a little to reach the other side. As you climb up the switchbacks lined with ferns you gain beautiful views of the canyon below again.
Follow the trail to the Fort Ross schoolhouse. It is a super short walk and you get to see a cute little piece of local history. The schoolhouse has been restored on the inside with some original desks and pictures on the wall. Due to previous vandalism it is closed and cameras are up. Definitely a great place to explore some history!
We chose to take our chances following the Canyon Loop trail down to the creek and cross on some larger rocks. The trails here are so well maintained and gorgeous. It might have been the sunshine trying to peek through the fog and forest ceiling that caused the feeling of peacefulness but I really think it was the pure quiet among the forest that calmed my mind. It was a beautiful hike that I can’t wait to do again next year!
The hubs and I had planned ahead and brought a picnic to enjoy on the beach. We headed back to the car to retrieve the blanket and food then walked back down to the beach. It’s a small beach in a somewhat secluded cove. We have driven by countless times on our drives along the coast and haven’t stopped to enjoy it. Big mistake! There was a group of divers getting ready to head out, a family and their dogs and another couple that went kayaking in the cove. That’s all we saw. We plopped down on our blanket and watched the fog roll out while we ate our lunch. The tide was up so we couldn’t really explore the tide pools so we relaxed on the beach and watched the fog roll back in then headed back up to the car. It was a beautiful place to spend the day!
Sonoma County Parks pass or $7 parking, toilets in the campground and at the beach, 3.5 mi easy loop hike with little elevation gain/loss or you can extend with the Dead End trail, dogs on leash ok, guaranteed gorgeous views!
If you want to leave all stress behind and have a beautiful, short, easy hike….this is the place to go!
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