Points of Interest
THE SEA RANCH RECREATIONAL FACILITIES
The Sea Ranch offers, among many other recreational amenities, three pools for use by Association members and their guests. All three of the pools are equipped with tennis courts and saunas.
Breathtaking sunsets and salt spray crashing over magnificent off-shore sea stacks and rock formations are only a few of the splendors of the Sonoma coast beaches. Sitting by the ocean seems to melt aware all the cares of the world and the everyday worries of living in a busy world. The spring harbor seal pupping season brings nature lovers from all corners. Volunteer docents protect the mothers and infants, as well as providing a narrative of the process of pupping and maturation.
More than 50 miles of beckoning trails wander along the ocean bluff top, through magnificent forests, and among the mystical signature hedgerows of The Sea Ranch. Detailed trail maps and historical markers transform a leisurely stroll or a strenuous hike into an adventure and a memorable vignette. The Bluff Trail traverses the entire 10 miles of Sea Ranch Coast, from the regional park on the north end to The Sea Ranch Lodge at the far south.
Cinch up your hiking boots and get ready for a full day of hiking the trails of The Sea Ranch. The annual “Great Sea Ranch Circumambulation” is a celebration of The Sea Ranch Trails system. The hike is approximately 21 miles. Hike any part of it or the whole thing. Dogs walk too! Cookies, drinks, and dog biscuits are provided at the rest stops. This is truly a major community event. Hikers may chose any or all portions of the route, which includes level stretches along the ocean and in the meadows, sheltered trails through hedgerows, as well as challenging climbs through the forest to the “ridge” which forms the eastern boundary of The Sea Ranch.
GUALALA POINT REGIONAL PARK
Gualala Point Regional Park, immediately north of The Sea Ranch and overlooking the coastal village of Gualala, starts with lush vegetation, trees and wildflowers and then stretches into a three mile long beach separated from the town by the Gualala River.
In summer the river forms an expansive estuary, and in winter the it breaks open to the sea after heavy rains, carving a pathway to the open Pacific at points that vary from opening to opening and from year to year. Harbor seals, river otters, pelicans, other shore birds, and occasionally bald eagles provide endless opportunities to be amazed at the splendor of nature.
THE SEA RANCH GOLF LINKS
A picturesque 18 hole golf course is open to both Sea Ranch owners and their guests, as well as the general public. Deer and other wildlife often share the fairways and greens with golfers. Ocean vistas grace many points on the course.
THE SEA RANCH CHAPEL
Open daily to the public, 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. The grounds surrounding the chapel as well as the structure itself were the gifts of Sea Ranch residents, Robert and Betty Buffum. Upon completion in December of 1985, the chapel was dedicated in memory of Kirk Ditzler, a navy aviator, zoologist, and artist. The Sea Ranch Chapel Foundation was implemented for the continued maintenance and care of the chapel and grounds. Pat and Lyle Ditzler, long time Sea Ranch residents and dear friends of the Buffums were intimately involved in the joyous design of the chapel.
James Hubbell, artist and architectural designer is the creative genius who combined local natural materials with gifted local contractors, craftsmen and artisans. The chapel is protected by a carefully designed native habitat that is the product of several talented landscape planners. It is maintained by guardian volunteers of the chapel.
POINT ARENA LIGHTHOUSE
Just a half-hour drive north of The Sea Ranch lies the must-see Point Arena Lighthouse at the end of a winding road through the expansive Stornetta Public Lands. The lighthouse tour includes climbing the winding stairs to the top to see the original original 1908 beacon as well as magnificent ocean vistas. A gift shop and museum enhance the lighthouse grounds. This is an absolutely prime spot for sightings of whales and other marine mammals.
BOWLING BALL BEACH
Immediately north of the Schooner Gulch bridge lies a small parking area and twin paths, one leading to Schooner Beach, a worthy excursion in its own right, and the other to one of the wondrous mysteries of nature, Bowling Ball Beach. The sand looks as though its been scattered with oversized bowling balls. Almost perfectly spherical, stones like these have caused wild speculation wherever they’ve been discovered, with answers from aliens to dinosaurs, but the answer is actually simple geology.
Best observed at low tide, the so-called bowling balls are actually a geological phenomena known as “concretion”, sedimentary rock formed by a natural process wherein mineral cements bind grains of sand or stone into larger formations. These boulders are the result of millions of years of concretion and erosion, exposing the hard spheres as the mud-stone of the cliffs receded around them.
AND . . . A LONG LIST OF SEASONAL, ANNUAL, HOLIDAY, AND SPECIAL EVENTS
The Sea Ranch provides a marvelous environment where you and your family can retreat from the world into the peace and quiet of the natural world, or be as active as you wish with a host of community events throughout the year.
The Gualala Arts Center, just north of the river, provides an endless cornucopia of gallery exhibits, art show weekends, musical performances of every stripe, community theater, and, of course two annual events that bring visitors from far and wide, the annual Gualala Arts Car Show in July and the biggest event of the year – Art in the Redwoods, an indoor and outdoor celebration of the arts held each August.
SHOPPING AND OTHER CONVENIENCES
Even in a remote and rustic coastal community, certain amenities of life in the outside world are still essential – grocery stores, service stations, restaurants, medical care, and other standard necessities. The village of Gualala, just north of the river, provides all of these and more. Just three miles to the north of Gualala is the tiny, unique village of Anchor Bay with its iconic grocery and general store featuring an amazing array of good things to eat. Just beyond the village lies one of several campgrounds in area – at the bottom of one of the many hair-pin curves in the coastal highway, at the end of a picturesque “arroyo” leading to a beach near “barking rocks” where harbor seals are heard singing their song pretty much continuously. The offshore rock formations are mesmerizing, especially when there is a high surf producing crashing waves and cascades of salt spray.
For more leisurely shopping experiences, the communities of Gualala, Anchor Bay, and Point Arena to the north are generously dotted with boutiques, art galleries, and other unique shops that offer a rich array of surprises and delight.
For a leisurely drive, venture northward along the Pacific Coast Highway through the quaint villages of Manchester, Elk, Albion, and Mendocino. In Mendocino you may recognize locales from a number of famous movies and popular TV shows. For example, the Blair House in Mendocino is an 1888 Victorian structure featured in “Murder She Wrote” and now serving as a Bed & Breakfast.