Reactive Road Trip: Mendocino County

So a little over two month ago, Odin, Derek, and I went on a small road trip up the Northern California Cost.  We rented a house in Manchester, CA (located in Mendocino County) and were surprised to find that there were many state and regional parks that were very dog friendly.  I was hoping that since we were going on a weekday (we left Thursday night and were driving back Saturday) that there would be less people and dogs.  I was right and we had a blast. 

First off, the house we rented had private access to Irish Beach.  We went down to the beach Friday and Saturday morning and had the entire beach to ourselves.  We could see miles down the beach and there was no one else around.  This was great.  We walked up and down the beach, throwing Odin’s toy in every direction.  He had such a great time.  He was free to sprint around and we were able to put our guards down and enjoy this time to its fullest. 


There were very few tourists/hikers at all of the locations we stopped at.  I think we were far enough north that not too many people ventured this way.  We were north of Elk but about 40 minutes south of Fort Bragg.  The towns in the area are very small with populations of less than 100 people in each town.  I think this location is ideal for reactive dogs.  Lots of dog friendly places with no dogs (although this could have been due to it being a weekday during spring).

 Recommended Parks for Reactive Dogs:

Here is a list of a couple of places we stopped at:

·         Point Cabrillo – Cute little light house at the end of the ½-mile trail from the parking lot.  There were very few people at the park and NO DOGS!  The pathways also provided great visibility so we could see all oncoming traffic on the trail.  There was a small bay next to light house were a handful of harbor seals were floating and sunbathing in the water.

·         Russian Gulch State Park – The Park has a handful of dog friendly trails and provides a great view of the Russian Gulch Bridge.  Beach access is also dog friendly (on-leash only).

·         Mendocino Headlands State Park – We drove through the park and stopped at a handful of the turn-offs.  The trails at this park are very close to the edge, so be careful and overly observant of your dog’s movements. 

·         Gualala Point Regional Park (Farther south down Highway 1) – Although we ended up not hiking through the park, while we were in the parking lot (20 min), we did not see any dogs.

As we headed south from Manchester on Saturday, we noticed that the more south we headed, the more crowded the parks become. 

The following is a list of the more crowded parks that should be avoided by reactive dogs:

·         Dillon Beach

·         Point Reyes National Seashore

·         Salt Point State Park

·         Doran Regional Park

I would highly recommend Mendocino County as a vacationing location for reactive dog owners.  There were plenty of parks to explore and trails to hike. We only saw one other dog our entire vacation. Has anyone else traveled here? What dog friendly things would you recommend for a reactive dog?

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