Where to hike this weekend: California Coastal National Monument, Point Arena

July 2, 2015 | By | Comments (4)

For our August cover story, Sunset writers and editors had the tough job of scouring the entire Pacific Coast to find the most enjoyable new places to swim, hike, eat, drink, and stay the night. Talk about a difficult assignment. That’s why I made sure I got in on the fun and reported the coast from San Francisco north to Eureka.

California Coastal National Monument, Point Arena

California Coastal National Monument, Point Arena

Along the way I found lots of surprises, which I’ll share with you in the August issue. But one is so good I want to share it now. Up in Mendocino County, near Point Arena, you can now hike the insanely beautiful lands of the Point-Arena-Stornetta unit of the California Coastal National Monument. I know that’s a mouthful, but don’t let the clunky terminology dissuade you from visiting. These 1,665 acres of coast and coves and bluffs are the only on-land portion of the national monument, which extends 1,100 miles along the California coast. They make for easy but spectacular hiking–with great wildflowers, bird watching, and a decent chance of spotting passing whales. Best access is from the pullouts on Lighthouse Road; signage is still iffy, but the trails are easy to follow.

The monument should be enough to lure you up to Point Arena. But here’s a deal-sweetener. Right in town, Franny’s Cup and Saucer is, oh, maybe the best bakery in the United States, with completely irresistible cakes, cookies, and—this may come as a surprise—puddings. Puddings are, I think, generally under-appreciated. But Franny’s Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pudding deserves a Nobel Prize for Best Dessert. And the Nobel committee should set up a Dessert Prize just for Franny’s.



  1. Lauren sinnott

    At last, national recognition for our hidden treasure, Franny’s Cup & Saucer, a reincarnation of the beloved institution started by Franny’s mother, not to mention the Stornetta Lands (and historic Theater). I guess, much to the consternation of some, Point Arena, one of California’s tiniest incorporated cities, is finally on the map.

    July 14, 2015 at 10:13 pm
  2. Brenda Phillips

    Point Arena has a great gallery, Coast Highway Art Collective, just up the street from Franny’s.
    Also, the B Bryan Preserve has giraffes, antelope, and zebras near Point Arena!

    July 13, 2015 at 7:33 am
  3. Keni

    I was planning on visiting the lighthouse today but will have to add this to my list !

    July 4, 2015 at 9:23 am
  4. Unbeaten Path Hiking Tours

    Dear Sunset! Sorry we couldn’t meet up on the trail! Would have loved to give you the grand tour off the beaten path and of the new areas of The Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary! The new expansion of the sanctuary to Manchester Beach makes this one of the most pristine regions and coast lines in the world!

    July 2, 2015 at 5:25 pm

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