Hiking the Jenner Headlands Preserve

Hiking the Jenner Headlands Preserve

Hiking the Jenner Headlands Preserve

Sonoma County’s 55-mile coastline abounds with stunning views, each seemingly more marvelous than the last—and some of the finest views of all can be enjoyed by hikers who make their way high into hills edging the Pacific. From a couple of thousand feet up you’ll be glancing down at hawks gliding gracefully through the air and taking take in huge swaths of coast, sea and sky.

One of the finest places for trails like these is at 5,630-acre Jenner Headlands Preserve.

 

Jenner Headlands Preserve, Jenner, Sonoma County, California

 

Located 2 miles north of Jenner, a tiny coastal hamlet, the preserve runs for 2.5 miles along the Pacific Coast Highway while extending eastward and upward to encompass forests of redwood and Douglas fir, oak woodlands, chaparral, and coastal prairie. It’s home to rare and endangered species, including the peregrine falcon, northern spotted owl, and red tree vole, as well as to deer, coyote, mountain lion, bobcat and, in its streams, steelhead trout.

All of this magnificence can be yours, temporarily at least, on a hike (the preserve contains 15 miles of trails). If you’re in tip-top shape and ready for a challenge, head out on the Sea to Sky trail. You’ll want to get an early start, because it’s a steep 7.5-mile climb from the trailhead to the 2,204-foot peak of Pole Mountain, where you’ll feel like the King/Queen of the World as you turn in a complete circle and see nothing but glorious nature in all directions. Rest awhile and enjoy the lunch you brought along, and then it’s a sharp 7.5-mile descent back to your vehicle, toting a feeling of euphoria that will linger for days.

But not everyone enjoys taking hiking to such extremes, and euphoria is a given anywhere you hike at the preserve. You’ll find plenty of other trail options. Half a mile and a minor ascent from the trailhead is an overlook with gorgeous ocean views—perfect for selfies or just daydreaming. In spring, head up the Raptor Ridge trail for about 1.5 miles to the .75-mile Wildflower Loop and become bedazzled by colorful blooms. Stop in the redwood forest about halfway up to Pole Mountain, enjoying the silence and majesty that always surrounds these noble giants.

 

Jenner Headlands Preserve, Jenner, Sonoma County, California

 

All in all, the preserve has six trails; most branch off of Sea to Sky, reconnecting (or connecting to a different trail) later. No matter which trail you take, or how high you’re willing to climb, the views are unforgettable. For that matter, the entire day will be, too.

What you need to know

Where: Jenner Headlands Preserve, Highway 1, Jenner, CA

Parking: Free parking, 30 spaces.

Hours: Open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Dogs: Leashed dogs allowed except on final one mile of Sea to Sky Trail.

Horses/Bikes: Equestrians and bikers are not allowed on trails at this time.

You Might Also Like

The Stavrand, Russian River Valley Guerneville
Lodging

Renowned for its discerning standards in the culinary and hospitality realms, the inaugural Michelin Key rating system has made its…

The Sea Ranch Lodge on the Sonoma Coast
Experiences

Travel + Leisure has bestowed upon Sonoma County the title of being one of the premier destinations to explore in…

Hot air balloon ride in sonoma county
Sightseeing & Tours

Without a doubt, Wine Country is one of the world’s most breathtaking regions to travel through whether you are looking…

Pig at Charlie's Acres
Sustainable Travel

Need a pick-me-up? These nonprofits offer ways to spend time with cute animals — you could even try some goat…

Activities

Plan ahead this summer, with our weekend-by-weekend, month-by-month collection of popular experiences — from picking peaches in July to attending…

Father's Day

Bubbles, brews, cars, music, and barbecue: There’s plenty going on for Father’s Day in Sonoma County–and enough variety to entice…

Activities

It can be hard to venture off our usual retail route, which, lately has been dotted with a lot of…

Jenner Headlands Preserve
Sustainable Travel

From a walk through the redwoods to an exploration along the coast; sipping sustainably produced wines to enjoying a farm-to-table…

Family Fun

Whether your family enjoys relaxing by the pool, spending ample time in the great outdoors, or discovering local shops and…

Family Fun

Just because you’re visiting a winery doesn’t mean you have to leave your kids at home! From swimming pools and…

See What’s Happening

Share your experience using #SonomaCounty or #LifeOpensUp