Approximately 8 miles north of Bodega Bay, a beautiful stretch of coastal bluffs is made accessible by an inconspicuous coastal path known as the Kortum Trail. Connecting Blind Beach near Goat Rock in the north to Wright's Beach in the south, the full length of the Kortum Trail traverses 3.8 miles of Sonoma Coast State Park and offers sweeping views of the great blue Pacific, offshore sea stacks, and access to a fun little climbing crag along the way. The most scenic and interesting part of the trail is the northern section, which starts near the Blind Beach parking area and continues 2.25 miles south to Shell Beach - the section featured here.
Starting from the north, park at the Blind Beach parking area off Goat Rock Road and walk 50 yards south to the start of the Kortum Trail, which is marked by a wooden sign. Climb over a small hill that provides nice views north to Goat Rock and out to sea toward Arch Rock. Continuing down the hill, the trail leads to what looks like a misplaced set of sea stacks known as Sunset Boulders. The boulders have a handful of easy to moderate top rope routes and bouldering problems to play around on, and combining this with a Kortum Trail hike makes for a great day on the coast. The trail remains fairly flat past Sunset Boulders as it proceeds to Shell Beach. Below the bluffs, a secluded strand of sand will likely entice you to explore. Although much of the beach is inaccessible due to the steep, 70-foot bluffs, there are a couple foot paths to the south of Sunset Boulders that provide beach access. Know your tides, and be careful of larger surf. You can also reach the sand from Shell Beach.
The roundtrip hike from the Blind Beach parking area to Shell Beach is 4.5 miles. Keep an eye out for deer along the Kortum Trail as herds frequently graze here. And as this is California grassland country, make sure to check for ticks (particularly in the spring) following your hike.