in Mendocino CA
Mendocino is a beautiful county in one of the most unspoiled areas in California. There are redwood forests, lakes, beaches, and views that will take your breath away. Many outdoor enthusiasts live here just so they can take advantage of Mendocino’s running, walking, hiking, birding, cycling and horse-back opportunities. A great way for visitors to get to know outdoor Mendocino is to tag along with locals enjoying themselves - naturally.
If you enjoy running, hook-up with the Fog Dodgers on the Mendocino Coast. Fog Dodgers includes adults of various ages and abilities who participate at the level that’s right for them. Originally a running group, today’s group includes walkers and cyclists as well. They meet every Sunday morning betweenat 8 am for an hour of 7 and 8 am to run or walkrunning, walking or cycling on a local trail.on the Mendocino Coast. Fog Dodgers includes adults of various ages and abilities who participate at the level that’s right for them. After their workout, the fun continues as many enjoy breakfast at a café, grange, or community fundraiser. The friendly folksrunners enjoy showing off their beautiful trails, so visitors always feel welcome. Call 707-964-9348 for upcoming run locations.
If you like walking, but a stroll around town is more your style, consider joining Ron Bloomquist for his daily walk around Fort Bragg. As Ron tells it, he’s in his sixties but going on 12. He says his blood pressure, cholesterol and weight were up, but he didn't want to start taking pills, so he decided to start walking instead. He gets up at 6:00 and walks for an hour or more each morning. Luckily for us, while walking he started noticing things, and that lead to starting a blog, called what else, WalkingFortBragg.com. Check it out, and if you’d like, you can join him on his walks. He’s happy to personally point out the various ‘oddities’ he’s discovered. Just send an email to let him know you’re coming and find out where to meet him. And here’s a tip - if you ask nicely, he’ll even go later in the morning so those who like sleeping in on vacation can still tag along.
If you prefer hiking to walking, then the Sierra Club’s Redwood Region, Mendocino Chapter is for you. They have scheduled hikes – the two for May are at Ridgewood Ranch, the home of Seabiscut. Both enjoy wild flowers as you hike thru open meadows and oak woodlands; the first hike is a bit longer, and includes hiking a lake shore with some low water creek crossings and a stop at the pioneer cemetery on the ranch. You can call leader Steve for sign-up and directions 508-8729, or visit redwood.sierraclub.org/mendocino for more information.
Does visiting Mendocino bring beaches to mind? Then here’s information on a group for you. It’s the local chapter of the Surfriders, a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world's oceans, waves and beaches for all people, through conservation, activism, research and educations. Their big event is International Surfing Day, an annual celebration of the sport of surfing and beach environments. It’s a day to give thanks, get wet and go surfing; International Surfing Day always takes place on the summer solstice which this year is June 20th. Join surfers of all ages as they take to the water at Big River Beach to celebrate surfing and do a beach cleanup.
Lend a Helping Hand
Mendocino Land Trust also has programs which encourage you to help the environment as you enjoy being outside. Their Big River Stewards program offers several opportunities to help preserve the Big River Estuary, located directly south of the town of Mendocino, extending inland from the coast. You could joining their river bird surveys, help map and eradicate invasive plants on the property, or monitor priority stream crossings. To join the Big River Stewards, contact Matt Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org. South of Big River is the Navarro River. You can join the Land Trust’s Navarro Point Stewards in assisting with managing the preserve and trail through removal of invasive plant species and trail maintenance. Contact Tamira Jones at email@example.com or call (707) 962-0470 for more information on either stewards program.
Another group anxious to show you that volunteer work outside can be fun is the Ukiah Valley Trail Group. Their motto is Envision – Build – Maintain – Enjoy. Neil Davis explains, “This may sound crazy, but doing volunteer trail work really (no, really) is fun. You don't have to be super strong and we all work at our own pace. We usually have some tasty treats, you get to go out to beautiful places, work with fun people, you get a great work out, and you go home feeling great about how you spent your time”. They publish a regular schedule of Trail Work Days, and their Volunteer Appreciation Day is National Trail Day, June 1st, at the Lake Mendocino South Boat Ramp. For questions about work days and events, contact Neil at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 972-0926 or visit their website www.mendotrails.org
Maybe it’s plants that lure you outdoors. If so, you’ll be happy tagging along with the friendly experts of the California Native Plant Society, a statewide non-profit organization of amateurs and professionals with a common interest in California's native plants. The Dorothy King Young Chapter serves coastal Mendocino County by hosting activities throughout the year for members and the general public. These include regular meetings featuring informative guest speakers, field trips, educational functions, plant sales, and weed eradication. Their web site www.dkycnps.org not only invites you to join their outings, it also tells you what’s currently blooming in Mendocino County.
Plant lovers of course also love strolling through the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden just South of Fort Bragg on Highway 1. But wait, there’s more! Locals and visitors also enjoy their classes and workshops. New this May are classes in Yoga and Tai Chi Qigong. They also offer a Master Workshop Gardening Series Saturday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Classes are $10 each, or if you’ll be in town for awhile, you can register for three in a series for $25. Class size may be limited, so you’ll want to call 707-964-4352 ext 16 to reserve your space. The next workshop series includes Master Gardener Linda Foote’s Time to go Native, a Lichen Talk and Walk with MCBG Naturalist Mario Abreu, and Bringing Birds to Your Garden. June workshops include Drip irrigation for your Garden with Jerry Jordan, owner of Dripworks in Willits, Herb Gardening, and Plant Propagation with MCBG Propagation Supervisor Mario Abreu. Learn more at their web site www.gardenbythesea.org.
Giddy-up! If you’ve always wanted to ride a horse on the beach, in Mendocino you can do it alone or with a group. MacKerricher and Russian Gulch State Parks, and Manchester Beach all have horse trails for people who bring their horses; nearby stables rent horses and leads trips for those who don’t have a horse or prefer to go with a group. For daily or multi-day trail rides, visit their web sites or call Ricochet Ridge Ranch at 888-873-5777, or Ross Ranch at 707) 877-1834.
If you’re interested in riding, but not on the beach, connect with the Mendocino Chapter of the California Dressage Society. The Society, and other Mendocino equestrian groups, host a variety of events and workshops throughout the county. Recent events include a horse camp where campers and horses enjoyed the return of Equestrian Arts' annual Horse Camp. The camp was held at San Vicente Ranch in the Willits valley. Elaine Mancini, instructor with over 30 years experience in the equestrian field, helped campers learn lounging, safety and grooming techniques, as well as building riding skills in both English and Western disciplines. Visit www.mendocinocds.org to learn more about the California Dressage Society.
If you’re a birder, or just interested in learning more about birds, there are two Audubon chapters in Mendocino happy to have you join their walks and field trips. The Mendocino Coast Audubon chapter leads bird walks at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, year round on the 1st Saturday of every month, starting at 9:00 AM, and the 3rd Wednesday, starting at 8:00 AM. The walks happen light-rain or shine. The coast chapter also leads field trips on the second Saturday of the month from September to May, visiting local birding hot spots to take advantage of seasonal birding opportunities. They even sponsor a pelagic trip to observe sea birds and marine mammals. Their next pelagic adventure is May 18, and reservations are required. They sail from Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg aboard the Trek II, departing at 8:00 AM and returning about 3:00 PM. These trips sell out early, so sign up soon if you’d like to join them.
The Peregrine Audubon Society covers interior Mendocino County from Hopland north through the Sanel and Ukiah valleys to the Mendocino National Forest and includes Boonville, Philo, Comptche and Potter Valley. Their next field trip is Sunday, May 11, 2008 exploring the birds of Potter Valley and the Eel River.
They’ll be looking for warblers, chats, grosbeaks, vireos, and purple martins. They’ll bird along the scenic Eel River with stops at the Pioneer Bridge, Trout Creek, and possibly Burris Lane. In a good year there’s a lot of singing and a lot of color darting among the trees. Visit their web site www.peregrineaudubon.org for more information on this trip and other fun bird adventures and presentations.
Disc Golf For Kids of All Ages
Are you looking for a Disk Golf game? What is Disc Golf you ask? Disc Golf, a sport which involves throwing Frisbees at targets, began in Southern California 25 years ago, and today boasts over 1,000 courses worldwide. These are dedicated courses just for this sport, in some of the most beautiful places you can imagine, including the hills of Ukiah! Disc golf uses the same principals of play as regular golf, but instead of using clubs and golf balls, the player throws a disc (frisbee) from a tee pad to a basket on a pole. The score is based on the number of throws it takes to get the disc to land in the basket.
There are several places to play disk golf in Mendocino County, including a new 18-hole course on the Mendocino College Ukiah Campus. You can also play at Low Gap Park and Lake Mendocino in Ukiah, the KOA in WIllits, Mendocino High School in the village of Mendocino, Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, and Myer’s Family Winery on 128 just east of Boonville.
Mendocino County is a dog-friendly place as evidenced by the growing number of places to stay and play with your canine companion. If you’d like your well-behaved buddy to have a romp with Mendocino dogs, bring them to a dog park. There are two in Fort Bragg, an off-leash dog beach at the mouth of Noyo Harbor, and a fenced dog park in town at the corner of S. Lincoln and Willow Streets; it’s easy to find… from Main Street (also Highway 1) in Fort Bragg, take Maple Street east until it dead ends into the dog park parking lot. Almost any time or any day, you can meet friendly local dogs and their people, always anxious to welcome visitors to the coast.
Soon you’ll be able to take your dog to an off-leash dog park in Ukiah. The city, county and a grass-roots group are working on creating the first inland dog park. They’ve secured more than an acre of land at Low Gap Park, and are busy raising funds to build the fence. Call (707) 463-6231, or visit www.lowgapdogpark.org for more information.
Finally, if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure that’s on the extreme end of the spectrum, and you’re an experienced cyclist who enjoys aggressive riding on and off-road, connect with Mark Tenzel, owner of Fort Bragg Cyclery. Call (707) 964-3509 on Saturday afternoon to find out where his Sunday morning ‘shop ride’ is headed. But remember - this adventure is not for the casual rider or the faint-of-heart. I hear you need to be able to keep up or find your way back home.