Coastal Northern Sonoma County is sometimes identified by serpentine Highway One clinging to the slopes of rugged mountains that plunge into the sea. Incredible views await the highway traveler. There are several places to pull off the road so the driver can take it all in as well.
The ruggednes of coastal northern Sonoma County meant modern day civilization came slowly to this area. Electricity arrived in the 1950’s. The coast road started to really take shape in the 1920’s, but it was still dirt. One had to open and close a dozen or more farm gates to make the journey from Jenner to Gualala until the State of California took over responsibility for the coast road in the 1940’s. The journey today by car (on paved road) takes just over 2 1/2 hours from the Golden Gate.
The Pomo, Coast Miwok, and Wappo peoples were the earliest human settlers of Sonoma County, estimated between 5000 and 8000 B.C. The Kashia Band of Pomo Indians continues to this day near Stewart’s Point.
Today, this stretch of coastal Sonoma County is dominated by four human improvements:
One is The Sea Ranch, an award-winning, environmentally sensitive development of over 2,000 lots spread out over nearly 10 miles of ocean frontage. (Please visit our communities page “The Sea Ranch” to learn more about this intriguing concept.)
Second is the Timber Cove development, characterized by multiple-acre lots located in either a redwood forest, wildlife-filled grassland, or along the ocean bluff. Third is the established presence of vineyards located one or two ridges inland, near the mountain tops. The elevation, the soil, and the precise distance from the influence of the ocean to the west and the inland heat to the east have yielded premium pinot noir and chardonnay.
Fourth is the reservation and development of several parks along and near the coast. One of the largest is Salt Point State Park located between Timber Cove and Stewart’s Point. It consists of approximately 6,000 acres and has camping, fishing, hiking and scuba diving. There is also Kruse Rhododendron State Park consisting of a second growth redwood forest, punctuated by wild rhododendrons.
Further to the north is the Gualala Point Regional Park. Consisting of approximately 195 acres, it is located at the extreme northwest corner of Sonoma County bordered by the Gualala River to the north and The Sea Ranch to the south. At the coast, the Gualala River demarcates Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The Gualala Point Regional Park offers a campground, visitor’s center, and several trails to the ocean bluff and the sandy beach. The beach sand collects at the mouth of the Gualala River and provides a gentle yet refreshing stop for gray whales with their calves on their spring migration to Alaskan waters.
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