Bowling Ball Beach (Schooner Gulch State Beach)


What? : The beach and headlands preserve a scenic spot along the Mendocino Coast, it offers a stunning perch for watching sunsets and the unique nature phenomena of Bowling Ball rocks on the beach.


Where? : The parking lot is on Mile Marker 11.41, it is 47.9 miles north of Jenner on hwy 1, or 39.4 miles south of Mendocino.

Google Map Link

When? : You need to come here at low tide when the rocks are exposed out of the water.

If there are high wave, they may prevent you from seeing the rocks.


Due note 1: Link to tide table at Bowling Ball beach:


Due note 2: Free but can be limited parking on hwy 1 roadside.


My thoughts: We came here at the morning (around 9am) and manage to get low tide and calm ocean. The balls look just amazing.

Bring tripod with you if you plan to take long-exposure pictures.

Additional Nearby attractions:

Russian Gulch State Park

- Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

- Skunk Train roundtrip from Fort Bragg to inland Northspur

- MacKerricher State Park

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park.

- Little River State Park

- Van Damme Beach State Park

Point Arena Lighthouse


The visit:

A long sandy beach (all this coast stretch called Schooner Gulch State Beach) whose main attraction is a cluster of round rocks right on the waterfront!

The State of California values these treasures and protects them for all to see in their natural setting.


The bowling balls are a geological phenomenon known as “concretion”, these boulders are the result of millions of years of concretion and erosion, exposing the hard spheres


In order to see the balls, you must come at a low tide in a calm ocean day.

At high tide and with waves most of the rocks are under water.

The parking lot is along Route #1, parking is on the west side of the road, diagonally facing south.

If you are coming on hwy 1 from the south need to do a U turn. Be careful here, cars are going fast, and they may not see you at all!!!


You can find parking at a turn right into a side road (when heading north), off the main road to the east.


From the roadside parking there are 2 trails that descents down, make sure you are taking the right one:

1. For Bowling-Ball take the path that goes out on the north side of the parking lot (more or less in front of T sideroad road). The trail start at the highland but soon it is going down heading north in a series of stairs all the way to the beach below, once at the beach level continue heading north.

The Bowling-Ball rocks are located about half a mile north of your beach access, below the cliff on your right that create a narrow shore section.

Saying it again: you must come at low tide and it is recommended to schedule either in the morning (you will not see here the sunrise because of the cliff behind you) or at sunset/night.


2. The "main" trail near the parking sign (in the southern part of the parking lot) goes down through the trees to a very nice little bay, sandy beach, fun for bathing and relatively wind-protected by the large bluff.

Does not looks like there is a passage through the base of the coastal cliff to the north Bowling Ball Beach.

If you want to go north need to climb back and take a connector trail crossing the headland until you connect to the right trail heading north.