Mendocino Headlands State Park

Mendocino Headlands State Park

Mendocino, California 95460
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Local Phone: (707) 937-5804

Much photographed Mendocino Headlands State Park is one of few state parks to allow dogs on dirt trails. The Headlands Trail, two to five miles round trip, goes from the downtown Mendocino historic district to Big River Beach, where the Big River empties into Mendocino Bay.

Blufftop benches make great resting spots for soaking up the views. An access trail leads to Portuguese Beach, known locally as Point Beach, where dogs on leashes are allowed.

Wooden steps cross a gully and the trail forks to offer two options: a route along the edge of the bluffs or an inland option making a straighter course to Big River.

Notice the remains of an old, oxen-powered railway that hauled lumber to a chute that transported it down from the bluff to waiting ships. Continue past the beach to reach a blow hole and enjoy more coastal scenery.

Please keep your dog on a leash, and watch out for foxtails during the summer!

Help us keep this beach beautiful and dog-friendly:
• Always follow the posted rules
• Respect natural marine life and habitats
• Be aware of tides and currents
• Pack in and pack out, leaving only paw prints

dog-friendly hike, dog-friendly beach, mendocino county, headlands, state park, big river beach, portuguese beach, point beach

Mendocino Headlands State Park - Photo Credit: @meganevaughan
Mendocino Headlands State Park - Photo Credit: @meganevaughan
A mere five minutes from Little River, much-photographed Mendocino Village, with its wealth of lacy Victorians and colorful saltbox cottages, is loaded with places to enjoy with your four-legged friend. Our top pick is Stanford Inn by the Sea, just south of the village across Big River. Once you’ve explored the compact downtown, get your tails over to Mendocino Headlands State Park, which surrounds the town on three sides. more »
Glass Beach - Photo Credit: @take.your.dog.along
Glass Beach - Photo Credit: @take.your.dog.along
Drive north from Point Arena 31 winding miles and you come to a little town that packs a big dog-friendly punch. Book a room at the Heritage House Resort (you’ll recognize it from the 1978 movie “Same Time, Next Year”), and you won’t want to budge from the decks and verandas overlooking the sea. Another great choice is Little River Inn Resort & Spa, a family-owned, Victorian-era confection that has greeted guests for five generations. more »
Photo Credit: Little River Inn
Photo Credit: Little River Inn
What’s not to like about the gorgeous Mendocino coast? Absolutely nothing, of course! And with a River Dog package at the Little River Inn Resort & Spa, perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, you’ll enjoy a two-night stay in a pet-friendly guest room, a three-hour river excursion in an ultra-stable outrigger canoe, a goodie bag with dog treats and info on where to hike and boat with dogs—plus a $100 dinner voucher good for dining in the hotel’s dog-friendly parlor (if the pinenut-crusted salmon is on the menu, give it a go), in-room or in the dining room (dogs have to wait outside). more »
Van Damme State Park - Photo Credit: @cassielue2
Van Damme State Park - Photo Credit: @cassielue2
Whether your drive all or just some of intoxicating Highway 1 hugging the Mendocino County coast, you’re sure to find many places to pull over and get some sand between your and Buster’s toes. Go slow, stop often and be sure to check out these highlights. more »
My stick! Photo Credit: @finnbodey
My stick! Photo Credit: @finnbodey
Noyo Beach, Mendocino County. Legal places to romp off-leash with your dog are few and far between on Mendocino County’s gorgeous coastline, but one place you can unclip and let your pup run free is Noyo Beach Off-Leash Dog Area in Fort Bragg. more »
Bodhi at Ten Mile Beach. Photo Credit: www.blakefloydgardner.com
Bodhi at Ten Mile Beach. Photo Credit: www.blakefloydgardner.com
Whether you drive all or just some of the 102 intoxicating miles of Highway 1 hugging the Mendocino County shore, you’re sure to find many places to pull over and get some sand between Bella’s toes. Take it at a snail’s pace, but be sure to check out these highlights. more »
Dog at Point Cabrillo
Enjoying Point Cabrillo Light Station. Photo Credit: Anne Cassia
Just north of Little River, picturesque Mendocino village, with its wealth of lacy Victorians and colorful saltbox cottages, has more places than you can shake a tennis ball at to enjoy with your four-legged friend. more »
Fetch!
Fetch! Photo: Colleen Proppe
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.  more »
Dog on beach in Northern California
Happy dog in Gualala
If you haven’t been to Mendocino County in a while, consider following coastal Highway 1 through a scenic wonderland touched by many trails where you and your dog can sniff out your own discoveries.

Start in Gualala, on the Sonoma/Mendocino county line, where the Gualala Bluff Trail offers three miles of elevated views and excellent wildlife watching (look for passing whales, sea otters hauled out on the beach and lots of shorebirds). Sunsets seen from the trail often are outstanding, too.

Ready to dish up the kibble and call it a night? The Surf Motel and Gualala Country Inn will welcome your pet as warmly as they welcome you.   more »
Rosie at Little River Inn
Rosie at Little River Inn
It’s just 17 miles along scenic Highway 1 from the coastal village of Albion to the more muscular city of Fort Bragg, but considering how much lies in between, you could take an entire, leisurely week to go the distance. more »
Photo Credit: Mark Cosy (CC)
Photo Credit: Mark Cosy (CC)
Noyo Harbor BeachA mere glimpse of Mendocino’s gorgeously sculpted coastline is all it takes to turn urban angst into rural revelation. The scenery is so intoxicating you can happily spend a week along the Highway 1 corridor without venturing beyond sight or sound of the sea. more »
Lap Up The Scenery
Dana and KaylaMendocino County’s sculpted coastline is so intoxicating you can yappily spend a week without venturing beyond sight or sound of the sea. Settle in at a pet-friendly property such as the Stanford Inn by the Sea or Little River Inn, both of which provide amenities including bowls, towels and sheets for keeping sandy paws off the furniture. Fan out from there to get a feel for what gives this storied slice of the North Coast its almost mythical reputation. more »
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