Exploring Northern California: Whales, Hiking, Kayaking, Tide Pools, and Glass Beach!

One of the first places we visited just south of town was Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. It was a beautiful lighthouse with 3 light keeper homes in front. The lighthouse was built in 1909, which was essential at the time for maintaining the safety of the ships bringing in lumber to Noyo Harbor.


Right down the road, we planned a hike at Jug Handle’s Ecological Staircase trail with one of my co-workers. This trail starts at a beautiful beach, goes through several changes in the soil, and ends in the pygmy forest full of very old, stunted trees. This was also around the time that Mendocino County was celebrating mushrooms of all kinds. One mushroom, in particular, caught my eye because of its’ bright red color. After researching later, I found out that it’s actually poisonous and releases psychoactive properties if ingested.


I always get recommendations for hiking trails from locals. The trail I kept hearing about was the 5 mile round-trip Fern Canyon Trail at Russian Gulch State Park. It was the only hike nearby with a waterfall. After about a week of constant rainfall, the following Sunday was beautiful, which made it the perfect day to hike this trail. The leftover raindrops on the leaves were still beautifully reflecting the sunshine and the waterfall at the end of the trail was flowing very fast.

After walking back to the truck we still had plenty of daylight and wanted to utilize as much of it as possible. Mike wanted to go to Point Arena Lighthouse. This lighthouse was originally built in 1870, damaged by an earthquake in 1906, and rebuilt 1908. It’s featured in films including Need for Speed and Forever Young.


My hairstylist told me about a short hike to the Little River Punch Bowl. The trail leads to a steep descent, which requires a rope for safety. The steep trail leads to a sandy bottom with an open cave and turquoise water. Just be careful of the poison oak surrounding the trail. Mike and I learned the hard way. Poison oak cream and a lot of Prednisone later, the poison oak rash finally went away after about a month.

I had been wanting to take a whale watching tour since we moved here. We were just north of town at MacKerricher State Park when we were told that we were here right at the perfect time for whale watching season. My co-workers, myself, and Mike decided to sign up with Captain Tim at All Aboard Adventures! We saw plenty of gray whales and lots of seals.

My friend invited Mike and I down to their house one weekend for a bonfire and a river trip the following day in Albion. Having a weekend like this was exactly what Mike and I were missing. Just getting together with a big group of people and having a great time. We had a blast around the bonfire and stayed the night upstairs in their guest room. Mike and I woke up the next morning to a gorgeous ocean view. The ocean view was cool, but the green grass was so refreshing. Spending a year in the Arizona desert and then staying in a small spot in a campground the last few months, it had been so long that I had stepped foot in some lush green grass!

We grabbed our kayaks and they grabbed their canoe and paddleboard and we headed out for a day on the Albion River. It was a lovely day for a change of scenery. The water was so clear we could see crabs on the bottom of the river. We passed by a house sitting right in the middle of the river! Then we passed by an old logging machine. On our way back we saw a few seals pop their head out of the water.

We went back to the house and ate some wonderful crab and pasta made by our friends. The sun was quickly setting, so our friends took us to a great spot across the street to watch the sun set.


Exploring nature is just so relaxing. There’s no rush or stress. Just beautiful simplicity.

The following weekend, our same friends called us after work and told us we couldn’t miss the whales at Navarro Beach! We rushed 30 minutes south and sure enough, we saw 3 whales playing in the water only 20 yards offshore.

We then stopped by Buckhorn Beach with countless tide pools, each having their own ecosystems and sea life. We saw hermit crabs, starfish, fish, abalone shells, etc. This beach felt like a scavenger hunt with no end in sight! There was something new to look at everywhere we turned!

We spent this year’s St. Patty’s Day on Glass Beach. It was a bright, beautiful, sunny day and the warm glass felt amazing to lay out on. My friend started putting green glass on my toes and within an hour I was covered in smooth, warm glass!

We then picked up a Piaci’s Pizza and took it to MacKerricher State Park where we watched one friend fly his kite taking advantage of the ocean breeze!

To bring these pictures to life, check out our YouTube episode here!

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