Meandering the Mendo coast with your dog

By: DogTrekker Staff
Retriever running along the beach at Seaside in Monterey County

While you can drive from one end of Mendocino County to the other in a morning or afternoon (it’s 102 winding miles from Leggett to Gualala on scenic Highway 1) this intoxicating stretch of coastline is best savored at a snail’s pace. Our advice: Hang your hat (and leash) for at least a night in one of the many dog-friendly lodgings situated within sight and sound of the sea.  

Start your magical Mendo explorations in the north, at Fort Bragg, where you can treat your pent-up pet to a leash-free romp on Noyo Harbor or Seaside beach.

Dog-friendly hiking opportunities start right in town at Pudding Creek Trestle, a railroad bridge converted to pedestrian use that connects to the Ten Mile Beach Trail. This scenic path follows 3.5 miles of coastal bluffs to MacKerricher State Park, fabulous for wildlife watching and one of few preserves in the state where dogs are allowed on dirt trails.

Back in town, follow West Elm Street toward the ocean to reach a trail leading to Glass Beach, a wondrous place littered with colorful sea glass smoothed by pounding waves.

Just 10 miles south of Fort Bragg, much-photographed Mendocino village, with its wealth of Victorian architecture, serves as a jumping-off point for visits to Mendocino Headlands State Park, Big River Beach and Van Damme State Beach.

From here, it’s a scenic, 35-mile jaunt to Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, a 1,132-acre coastal reserve that you and your leashed dog are welcome to explore at your scenically overloaded leisure.

If you love gardening, don’t miss ocean-view Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, just north of Fort Bragg, where leashed dogs are welcome to join you in exploring summer’s bounty of rhododendrons, roses, dahlias, fuchsias and hydrangeas.

Got kids? Take a ride on the famous Skunk Train, built as a logging railroad and now hauling tourists on scenic excursions out of Fort Bragg. If you long to get out on the water, Catch A Canoe & Bicycles Too can set you up with a modified outrigger canoe (dubbed a “canine cruiser”) for exploring the Big River estuary.

DogTrekkers have many dog-friendly lodging options in Mendocino County. We count among our favorites Emerald Dolphin InnBeachcomber Motel and Surf & Sand Lodge in Fort Bragg, Little River Inn and Stanford Inn by the Sea near Mendocino village; and Whale Watch Inn in Gualala.


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