Russian Gulch State Park – Devil’s Punchbowl Hike


What? :

Russian Gulch State Park offer ocean cliffs with large sinkhole, sandy beach below the picturesque road bridge and lush forest canyon and waterfall.


In this blog I will provide information on the short hike to the headland trail and Devil’s Punchbowl.


This is a short and flat 0.5-mile loop trail.


Where? :

Located only two miles north of Mendocino town and 7 miles south of Fort Bragg., just off highway 1.

Google Map Link


When? :

The park is open year-round, if you are planning on staying at the campground check winter closing.

This is a very popular park and not large in its size, or with number of trails, at summer month and weekends it maybe overcrowded.


Additional Blogs of nearby Parks:

Due note 1: This is one of the most popular parks in Mendocino area, when we tried to enter the park during summer weekend at around noon the park was close for cars entries, after few hours, late at the afternoon we came back and manage to get inside.


Due note 2: The fee is $8 per car and the pass allows you to get into any other state parks you visit that day.



My thoughts:

This is a fun and short hike that fit also small children. You can see here the ocean view from the cliffs, a nice viewpoint of the Russian Gulch Bridge and see the large opening of the sinkhole.



The visit:


When entering the park take the first road to your right and drive to the parking lot at the end of this short road.

From here the trail start on the left side following the edge of the cliff.

After short walk look back and to the left and enjoy the unique view of the photogenic Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge.

The concrete arch bridge (built during 1940) gracefully rises 100 feet from the bottom of the gulch covering it opening end to end. This bridge structure was use in many bridges along highway 1, including the famous Bixby Bridge in Big Sure.

If you want to see the bridge from a closer viewpoint there is one just before the parking lot.


After enjoying the bridge view continue following the trail and reach to it west section, from here a short walk will take you to the loop trail on the edge of Devil’s Punchbowl.


The ocean wave crash into a sea cave and pull the soil out to the ocean, eventually the upper soil layer collapsed into the cave creating an almost perfectly round hole called Devil’s Punchbowl.

The wave still getting into the bottom section of the hole and wave crashing on the inner walls.


From here you can walk north on the narrow trail but soon you will find it is a ded-end and you will need to walk back. From here a short, connected trail will bring you back in the parking lot you started your walk.


Overall, this is a short and easy trail that will reword you with interesting bridge viewpoint and ocean landscape.









Additional Pictures: