It was a hot summer evening in early July and we were looking for a cooler, coastal place to go camping and escape the heat. With all of the state-run campsites booked until the end of time, we decided to check out Hipcamp. We put in our search parameters and up popped this beautiful campsite at Buckridge Grove just inland from Point Arena in an orchard! Firepit √ Toilet √ Shower √ We booked it! Easy as that. And we finally got to use the tent we got as a wedding present 14 years ago! Thanks Hipcamp!
Leaving after work on a Friday and heading north from Santa Rosa is no big deal. There’s not really any traffic on the 101 but the winding roads that lead off Highway 101 sure do slow a person down! It took about 2.5 hours to reach downtown Point Arena where we could call our host to meet us and lead us up to the campsite. While we were waiting (all of 10 minutes) we walked the entire downtown of Point Arena. It is such a cute sleepy seaside town! Jay and Micah met us and we followed them up the road for a few miles making sure to pay attention and remember the way back. We ducked into this beautiful tree-lined road and followed the narrow road around to an open orchard with 4 (almost 5) campsites.
We parked and received the grand tour before choosing one of the remaining campsites. A communal fire pit was set up in the middle of the orchard with 2 campsites up above the orchard and 2 below. There was a great little raised garden bed and barbecue area next to this and the super clean portable potties with a hand washing station were above all the campsites. We walked down a little road to the open air, but private, shower and headed back to set up our tent. We had practiced before we left setting the tent up in our living room to make sure we knew how before we ‘officially’ used it!
After setting up our tent, we grabbed our wood, wine, and dinner and headed up to the communal fire pit. This is where we met another couple that was Hipcamp first timers! They were also from Santa Rosa! Who knew you had to go camping in a remote place to meet cool people who live in your hometown? We sat around the fire drinking wine and swapping stories until we were all too tired and went to bed. At some point in the middle of the night, there were scary wild animal noises. Sort of freaked us out being in a tent and not in the safety of the truck! The next morning we were told it was coyotes hunting. Thank goodness they weren’t interested in us!
The following morning we were up bright and early for a nice chilly outdoor shower and breakfast then off to Point Arena – Stornetta Public Lands for a short hike.
Point Arena Stornetta Public Lands
Arriving before the crowds to this beautiful coastal spot is highly recommended! We had unobstructed views of the lighthouse and the trails were almost all to ourselves! Knowing it was a pretty flat 4-mile hike we took our time and enjoyed every step. We didn’t see any whale spouts from the shore but there sure were a ton of seals and gulls! The tide was on its way in and crashing on the rocks all along the way. These poor sandstone rocks take a beating from the ocean!
The tide pools here are amazing! It wasn’t low tide while we were there this time but we highly recommend trying to see it sometime if you haven’t already. Oh and definitely pay to go up in the lighthouse. We had done this on a previous visit so we skipped it and opted for other explorations.
The trail led us a little bit in from the bluffs through a grassy meadow and windswept trees. This is where we ran into some other hikers coming from the other direction. They saw our cameras and told us of a spot-up the way where the sandstone arches were all lined up in a row and if we went before the tide came in we could still see it! Um, yes please! We hurried up and followed the trail to the road, turned right, and went through the small fence opening (to keep cows in) and headed down the coastal bluffs to an amazingly beautiful spot! We might not have climbed down in the ravine had they not told us about this spot. Love friendly people!
We scrambled down into the ravine and carefully walked down to where we could see the 3 sandstone arches create a tunnel. It was spectacular! The pictures don’t do it justice. Some larger waves were crashing and starting to come up a little too close for comfort so we took as many pictures as we could and headed for higher ground. One of our goals is to never need to be rescued due to stupidity. Maybe more people should have this goal? 😉
It was really hard to top those views as we followed the coastal bluffs south toward the Point Arena Pier. It was a gorgeous day to be walking along the ocean! We reached our turn around point which had views of the Point Arena pier and headed back north with the wind to our backs. Felt like it took less time to head north than south!
As we reached the trailhead, more and more people were on the trails and the parking was full. Good to go early!
The tiny seaside town of Point Arena has a few cute shops and restaurants. Manchester State Beach is to the north and Pelican Bluffs (a new trail) and Bowling Ball Beach are to the south. The other main attractions are the historic lighthouse and the cute pier. We were told to check out the Chowder House at the base of the pier. It was so lovely to sit upstairs out on the deck and take in the views while enjoying a delicious lunch. Kind of a perfect day so far!
After lunch, we headed south to the new Pelican Bluffs trail which our young host Micah had recommended. The trailhead parking is small but adequate and the nice gentle sloping poison oak-lined trail leads you through trees to some more gorgeous views of the Mendocino coastline! It was starting to get warm and the sun had been out all afternoon so we only spent a little time out here exploring. We opted to head north to Manchester State Beach with our big hats on and a blanket.
Manchester is a lovely beach hidden by sand dunes. Long sandy beaches stretched for days. It was a great place to relax and stay nice and cool. We just sat and relaxed for a while leaning up against some large driftwood. When it was time to head back to camp to start dinner we packed up and headed back to the truck. We are so very lucky to be able to enjoy these beautiful days along the coast!
Back at the campsite we toweled off our sweat and started getting ready to cook dinner. We had found another couple had arrived late the night before and had moved their campsite next to ours. It was great having everyone around the barbecue and communal fire pit! They were first-time Hipcampers also! We ended up all eating dinner together around the campsite and chatting about how at a normal campground with separate fire pits we wouldn’t have eaten together and made new friends like this. It was definitely a wonderful experience to have this community of campers. I can’t wait to use Hipcamp again and see what else is out there!
During dinner one of the neighbor cats cruised into the campground. She was pretty friendly. Then all of a sudden a very friendly and energetic dog came trompsing through the campground! He said hello to all of us. Accepted some water and food from us and we finally realized he had a phone number written on his collar. At the campground, the cell service is super spotty so if you stand in just the right spot you have signal. We called the owner and she was so happy to find out we had her dog. Point Arena is such a small town she knew exactly where we were. That was a good happy ending!
Once the sun went down it started getting chilly so we lit the fire and we all sat around enjoying wine, beer, and s’mores. It was probably 11 pm before we all decided it was time to turn in. Kind of didn’t want the experience to end since we were having such a good time and we all knew that Sunday we would all pack up and head our separate ways.
That night we did not have screeching coyotes but we did have raccoons that got into the trash. We heard them cruising by our tent in the middle of the night.
We opted to take Highway 1 all the way back home to take full advantage of the natural air conditioning the coast provides. Seems everyone that was camping up north had the same thought! It was fine, we weren’t in a hurry. Have we mentioned we want to live on the coast one day? One of those dreams that we can shoot for.
We stayed at a lovely new Hipcamp spot called Buckridge Grove for $60/night for 2 people. They had 2 portable potties with a hand washing station, 5 campsites, a private outdoor shower, communal fire pit, and barbecue area.
Parking is free, 4 miles pretty level, portable potty at the trailhead, fully exposed. The nearest food and services is a couple of miles south in Point Arena.
Things We Love
HIPCAMP!! We love this site! Now that we can and will go camping once a month this opens up a ton more opportunities for us to be able to camp in unique places. We will still do the state parks whenever we can also but the more we have been on this site checking out potential campsites the more in love with it we are! If you haven’t signed up for Hipcamp yet, please click on this HIPCAMP link! You get $20 off and we get $20 credit. Win-win! If you check out a place, let us know what you thought in the comments below or if you have already been and loved a spot let us know!
We are not an affiliate of Hipcamp, they offer this to anyone that signs up but just want you to know that by clicking the link above and making a reservation will benefit both us!
Where else can you find us?
Don’t forget to check out the video of the hike on our Hike Then Wine YouTube channel!