South of Jenner and the Russian River, Hwy-1 hugs the coast along 10 miles of rocky coves and sandy beaches, collectively protected as Sonoma Coast State Park (707/875-3483). Starting with Goat Rock at the southern lip of the Russian River mouth, a bluff-top trail leads south past intriguingly named and usually unpopulated pocket strands like Blind Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, Shell Beach, Wright’s Beach (site of the park’s main beachfront campground), and Salmon Creek Beach. Take care when hiking along the Sonoma Coast: Many people have been drowned by “sleeper” waves, which rise unannounced and sweep people off the rocky shore.

At the southernmost end, Sonoma Coast State Park broadens to include the wildflower-covered granite promontory of Bodega Head, which juts into the Pacific and provides a great vantage point for watching the gray whale migrations in winter.

Map of Pacific Coast through San Francisco.
Map of Pacific Coast through San Francisco.