Russian Gulch is one of the loveliest parks on the Mendocino Coast, especially in spring when wildflowers color the headlands and the lush fern canyon. The
park boasts a number of unusual features, including the Devil's Punch
Bowl, the graceful Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge, and a 36 foot high
The Devil's Punch Bowl is a large, collapsed sea cave located on the headlands. You can't miss this hole -- 100 feet wide and 60 feet deep. If you look down into it at high tide, you'll see the waters of the Pacific Ocean crashing and echoing below.
Photo © Kyle Mahan / Flickr.com
There's a lovely sandy beach beneath the scenic Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge, where you can explore tidepools or do a little fishing. This is one of the few places on the Mendocino Coast where you can swim, but the water is still very cold. You'll also find an underwater park, popular with divers.
Much of the park's 1,162 acres extend inland, through a 12 mile long system of trails, where you can hike through a fern canyon to reach the waterfall. The trail to the waterfall is under 5 miles round trip. Some of these trails are open to horses, and there's a 3 mile long paved bicycle trail. There are also trails along the headlands, where you can view the Devil"s Punchbowl and enjoy vistas of Mendocino, 2 miles south.
Photo © Kevin Bovard / Flickr.com
Camping is available, including 30 family campsites (one of which is wheelchair-accessible) in the redwood forested valley, and 4 primitive ride-in equestrian camps for up to 4 people. There's also a 40 person group campsite and a hiker/bicyclist camp for up to 12 people. Reservations are strongly recommended during the summer months. There are picnic areas, restrooms, an outdoor shower near the beach, and several parking areas.
Russian Gulch is located 2 miles north of Mendocino in Northern California. It's accessible from Highway 1.
For official information and to download a park brochure with a map see Russian Gulch State Park.