Sitting just west of the San Andrea fault, Bodega Head is the rocky headland at the entrance of Bodega Harbor that shelters the bay from the rugged and often dangerous Pacific Ocean. At roughly four miles long and one mile wide, the rugged granite outcropping offers visitors windswept meadows atop steep coastal bluffs, family-friendly trails, wildlife viewing opportunities, beautiful beach access, and spectacular panoramic vistas.
Bodega Head is a massive chunk of granite from the Salinian Block, a geological terrane that contains Point Reyes and the Farallon Islands. It shares its origins with the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Head itself having been carried hundreds of miles northwest as the Pacific and North American plates move past each other.
— The Outbound
Along the jetty, on the harbor side of Bodega Head, is a popular crabbing destination. For those who like to hike, however, the ocean side of Bodega Head boasts walking and hiking trails, access to secluded sandy coves, and stunning views of the rugged Pacific Coast.
We parked in the lower parking area near the picnic area and after checking out the sandy beach below, began our walk around Bodega Head at the trailhead near the restrooms. A storm was rolling in, so it was a cloudy and overcast day, but luckily, the sun peeked through the clouds a few times!
As we hiked the trail to the top of the windy bluffs, we discovered the isolated and quiet Fishing Industry Monument, a collection of low-lying cement blocks arranged to resemble the bow of a ship. It that honors those who worked in the Bodega Bay fishing industry. Bodega Bay was once of the largest salmon fishing ports in the world. While now reduced in size, fishing remains a vital part of the local economy.
“This site was created as a tribute to our men and women who make their living from the sea and a memorial to those who have most their lives to it.”
— Bodega Bay Auxiliary For Fisheries
After passing the memorial, we continued to follow the trail as it looped around the southern end of the peninsula. The 1.5 mile Bodega Head Trail is a loop trail that hugs the edges of the cliffs. In the center, you’ll find rocky grassland meadows and a lone stand of cypress trees. During the spring, wildflowers dots the meadows, adding joyous color to the majestic coastline.
As we walked the trail in the biting wind, we could hear seals barking, see Point Reyes in the distance, and view the town of Bodega Bay. It was a great way to wrap up our coastal explorations of the Sonoma Coast!
Know Before You Go
- Bodega Head is located at 3799 Westshore Rdoad, Bodega Bay, California 94923 in Sonoma County approximately 40 miles northwest of San Francisco and 20 miles west of Santa Rosa.
- Bodega Head sits at the southern end of the 17 mile stretch of coastline known as the Sonoma Coast State Park, which means dogs are not allowed on the trails or beaches.
- Download the state park brochure
- Between the adjoining Bodega Head State Marine Reserve and Bodega Head State Marine Conservation Area, just over 21 square miles of ocean are protected around Bodega Head.
- Bodega Head is a whale watching destination. Migrating whales can be seen from early December through mid February while heading south for calving season and in March and April as they travel back north.
- Parking is free. There are vault toilets and picnic tables available.
- Several people have fallen to their death as the ground erodes along the edges of the cliffs, so stay back from the edge! During our hike, we could see cracks in the ground right off the trail close to the cliff edge, indicating that the ground is unstable.