Day Trip: Hike – Pomo Canyon Trail


View of Russian River as it meets the Pacific Ocean

One of the better hikes in the area is out along the hills at the mouth of the Russian River. The views of the Pacific and the River entering the sea at Jenner are spectacular. The hike begins at Pomo Canyon Campground which is at the time of this writing, closed for budgetary reasons. If you have not yet visited this camp, you are in for a treat. Pomo is one of the really pretty camps in Sonoma County. If you like Schoolhouse, you will like Pomo. It’s tiny and full of towering Redwoods. Corina, Colton and I recently hiked one of the two trails with some friends and had a great time. The first part of this hike has quite an incline so I’m recommending this for healthy people familiar to hiking. It is well worth the effort.

map to Pomo Canyon hike

Begin your day by heading west from the campground on River Road which becomes HWY 116 after Guerneville. The trip to the coast is 17 miles and a pretty drive along the river through the small towns of Monte Rio and Duncan's Mills. When you hit HWY 1 at the end of the road, turn south which is a left and pass over the Russian River. Take the first left on Willow Creek road for 2.6 miles. Park outside the gate and your hike begins!

Pomo Canyon Trail sign
Ferns on hiking trail

Walk past the gate along the gravel drive into the campground about ¼ mile. The David Joseph Memorial Pomo Canyon Trail is clearly marked as you begin your ascent. The trail climbs right up and through the 13 or so primitive campsites and Redwood grove. I love the Ferns and Sorrel that are one of the few plants able to thrive in the heavy shade of Redwood trees. As you continue to climb, the trees change to Fir, Oak, Madrone and Bay before finally turning to the open grassy headlands of the Sonoma Coast.

Just around the point you break through the trees and into open space, you will have a decision to make. The Pomo Canyon Trail continues on the right and the Red Hill Trail is to the left. These two trails will meet again at the top of the bluff and you can loop back to your car at the next junction or continue down towards the Pacific and beautiful Shell beach. On our hike, we chose the Red Hill trail and continued up and then along the bluff which looks out over the ocean and the mouth of the Russian as it reaches its destination. 

Colton, the camp kid at Schoolhouse Canyon hiking the Pomo Canyon Trail
Hikers on Pomo Canyon Trail

Your destination however is still a bit of a hike back down into the canyon and finally to the well-deserved snacks waiting for you in your car.  

Epic views are the reward for hiking

Schoolhouse Canyon Campground 12600 River Rd. Guerneville, CA 707.869.2311

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