Salt Point State Park is a very unusual place. The park includes strange rock formations called tafoni, an underwater park , and a pygmy forest.
With 6000 acres to roam around in, there's a lot to see and do. There are grasslands and coastal bluffs, redwood groves and lush mixed conifer forests, meadows and open prairie. If you're willing to take the hike up, you can see the pygmy forest, where soil conditions have stunted the growth of the trees. And right next door, there's the Kruse Rhododendron Reserve.
The sandstone here was once quarried for use in San Francisco, and you can still see quarried rocks scattered in places. At Gerstle Cove and Fisk Mill Cove you'll also see tafoni, interesting honeycomb formations on sandstone caused by a particular kind of weathering. Sometimes the rock looks almost like a web.
You can hike, stroll, or ride your horse on the 20 miles of trails. Mountain bikes are allowed on paved roads and fire roads. Picnicking is available at Fisk Mill Cove, Stump Beach, and South Gerstle Cove - all of which have picnic tables and toilet facilities.
Fishing and abalone diving are permitted throughout the park, except at Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve, an underwater park where divers can explore the protected marine life. You can also launch a small boat in this cove, or stay on land and explore the tide pools. There's a visitor's center, campground, and trails at Gerstle Cove.
There are two campgrounds at Salt Point, Gerstle Cove Campground and Woodside Campground, which also includes some walk-in sites. There's also a group campground and a hike-bike campground. Campsites have picnic tables, fire rings, food lockers, drinking water and wheelchair-accessible restrooms. There's a paved, level wheelchair-accessible path from the parking area in Gerstle Cove to Salt Point.
The park is a popular spot for camping in Northern California, so reservations are recommended, especially on weekends during the peak season.
Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve
This 317 acre reserve is located next to Salt Point State Park. There are 3 miles of hiking trails through the mixed conifer and redwood forest. The rhododendrons appeared after a major fire nearly a century ago. Eventually, they'll disappear as the forest grows and shades them out. In the meantime, you can enjoy a lovely display of pink flowers in late spring.
Visit the California State Parks web page for Salt Point State Park for more information and to download a brochure, with a detailed map of the park.