South Yuba River State Park

The Yuba River winds gently through the heart of gold country. A gentle trail follows the cliffs along the river, leading to spectacular views. And yes, there is still gold to be found in the river if you want to go panning.

link: South Yuba River State Park Official Site

Plumas Eureka State Park

Plumas Eureka is a hidden gem of granite cliffs and quiet rivers, nestled in the Sierra Mountains. We found ourselves completely alone in the park on a cold winter day, an eerie reminder of how it must of been when the gold miners left, and perhaps an eerier foreshadowing of a day when these parks are closed.

link: Plumas Eureka State Park Official Site

Henry W. Coe State Park

Henry Coe is one of the largest state parks. The beauty of Henry Coe lies in its simplicity. Rolling green hills spotted with gnarled oaks, soft forests, wildflowers in bloom, acorn woodpeckers filling trees with holes to store their acorns, wild turkeys running across the fields, ponds full of tadpoles. None of this seems out of the ordinary, and yet the balance of elements is near perfect here.

UPDATE: Returning to Henry Coe, we found some wild tarantulas, and managed to get a better look at the ubiquitous acorn woodpeckers. We also learned that Coe will remain open for at least 3 more years thanks to the efforts of a non-profit organization.

link: Henry W. Coe State Park Official Site

Russian Gulch State Park

From the tops of the rocky cliffs, Russian Gulch offers spectacular views of the Pacific as it crashes into the California coast.

link: Russian Gulch State Park official site

Manchester State Beach

The seemingly endless sands of Manchester State Beach are one of the few remaining nesting sites of the Snowy Plover. Perhaps limiting human access to this beach will at least benefit these birds.

link: Manchester State Beach official site

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park

Point Cabrillo is one of the few remaining active lighthouses along the Pacific coast. A quick glance at the sharp rocks jutting from the waves explains why this beautiful building is still used as a navigation aid.

link: Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park official site

Jug Handle State Natural Reserve

Jug Handle provides a small but impressive sampling of the varied terrain of Northern California. The highlight of Jug Handle is the ecological staircase trail, a gentle climb from the rocky coast leading through a remarkable variety of flora to a quiet redwood grove.

link: Jug Handle State Natural Reserve official site

Westport Union Landing State Beach

Westport Union Landing State Beach is one of the Northernmost beaches on California’s beautiful highway 1. It is also one of the most impressive.

link: Westport Union Landing State Beach official site

Greenwood State Beach

Greenwood State Beach is ugly. Don’t go visit it. It is not a quiet, beautiful cove with native plants and ornate driftwood, waves crashing against the delicate rock arches. In fact, we should just close it so no one else has to come here.

link: Greenwood State Beach official site

Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area

There’s a steep trail from the parking area at Standish-Hickey down to the Eel river, and some of the visitors seemed none-too-pleased on the way back up, but the reward is a perfect summer spot for swimming, hiking and fishing.

link: Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area official site