Pomo Canyon Red Hill Hike Near Jenner

How many opportunities could one have to experience a 6-mile hike along a trade route used by Native Pomo and Miwok Indians? One of the many gifts of living in Northern California is having endless adventures right in our backyard. We decided that our plans to spend the weekend in Jenner, California had to include hiking the Pomo Canyon Red Hill Trail.


Pasture on the Road to Jenner
Pasture on Highway 116 as you approach Jenner, California


Pomo Canyon Sign
Pomo Canyon Sign

The trail takes hikers to the tallest ridge overlooking the point where the Russian River flows to meet the coast. The incomparable views look down onto the river, over the Jenner Headlands and out to the Pacific Ocean. Only a drone could provide a better view!

View from the Pomo Canyon Red Hill Trail to the Pacific Ocean
View from the Pomo Canyon Red Hill Trail out to the Pacific Ocean

The hike begins with an uphill path winding through open areas with diverse and ever-changing scenery including chaparral, meadows and grasslands that eventually lead to deeply shaded redwood groves and running streams.

Pomo Canyon Red Hill Meadows
Pomo Canyon Red Hill Meadows


Pomo Canyon Redwood Grove
Magical Pomo Canyon Redwood Grove


Pomo Canyon Red Hill Redwood Grove
John in the Pomo Canyon Red Hill Redwood Grove

Hawks circle above, alternating between effortless gliding and powerful swooping as they detect potential prey. Hikers pass primitive rock formations, share the trail with butterflies, and are serenaded with an abundance of birdsong.

Rock Formations along the Pomo Canyon Red Hill Trail
Rock Formations along the Pomo Canyon Red Hill Trail

It’s a profound experience to walk in the steps of ancient peoples. To see what they saw. To feel what they felt because the land is largely untouched and pristine. It is a living tribute to conservation and a commitment to the land that preserves natural treasures for future generations.

I imagine that the trial provided a sense of serenity and a measure of safety high above the rugged California coastline at Goat Rock Beach – where “sneaker” waves make it one of the most dangerous stretches of water in California. The trail also likely offered roots and berries for food, items to use to build shelters, fresh running water, and wildflowers to use as plant medicine.

Pomo Canyon Wildflowers
Pomo Canyon Wildflowers

Hikers can park free of charge in the Shell Beach parking lot and (carefully!) cross Highway 1 to access the trailhead at the Dr. David C. Joseph Memorial sign. You will need more than tennis shoes. We were there in April and parts of the trail were still quite wet and rocky. Hiking boots, a sun hat and plenty of drinking water are a must.

After a beautiful and moderately challenging hike you know you are once again nearing the coast when you begin to feel hints of the ocean breeze and whiffs of salty sea air. A great way to end your morning of hiking is right back where you started at Shell Beach.

Insider’s Tip: Be sure to walk down to explore the stunning cove at Shell Beach with it’s extraordinary tide pools filled with anemones and other sea life.



2 thoughts on “Pomo Canyon Red Hill Hike Near Jenner

  1. Beautiful! I especially like the redwood grove. And I appreciate your thoughts about how native Americans must have felt walking along the same stretch of land. That’s a great way to look at things. I did read that this trail has a lot of poison oak right off the main path, so I was wondering whether you saw any. Always a consideration when straying off the trail!

    1. Hi Paula, I should have mentioned the poison oak! We did see some – and it is right along the main trail but we (and everyone else) steered clear and there were no issues. My husband seems to be very reactive to poison oak so we were careful. I would suggest wearing long pants and washing them as soon as you get home. The hike really is spectacular!

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