Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve

North Bay
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Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve

Distance: 3.4km
Elevation: 67m
Time: 1-1.5h

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A hike at Kruse Rhododendron State National Reserve is full of rhododendrons in bloom if you go between April and early-June. There are typically lots of mushrooms and fungus growing on the downed trees in the preserve. If you are someone who is excited about botanical diversity this hike is amazing!

Getting there

Get on Highway 1, heading North. From Bodega Bay, go north another 50.9km, before you take a right onto Kruse Ranch Road. This is an old road that quickly turns into a dirt one lane road. You will see a large pull-out on either side of the road with small steps leading up the hill, park here.


When to do

April through June

Backcountry Campsites




Family friendly


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Detailed Description

Hiking at Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve is a fun hike, but call the Ranger to see if paths have been cleared, they only clear the trails seasonally. April to early-June is the best time to see rhododendrons bloom. You can also pick huckleberries in late summer.

Before starting your hike, make sure your car is pulled completely off the road and does not block traffic.

This hike is quite simple to navigate. From the parking lot, head up the small set of wooden stairs and you will see a trail map. There are 3 trails in the park. Head up the small hill keeping right and following the wooden fence to stay on the Chinese Gulch Trail. There are a few little side trails that animals have created, please stay on the dirt path to help protect the small plants growing along the edge of the trails.

After a 1.6km the Chinese Gulch Trail will drop down off of the hill and meet up with the road. Once your trail ends onto the road cross the road. Across the road is the start of the Phillips Gulch Trail which will lead you back to your parked car.

During our visit, about 1.0km in, there was a trail closure sign as the path had become blocked due to some downed trees. We continued to hike along the road, which still offers great views, until we reached our car. We were assured by rangers the trail would be fixed within a few months, at the time they were waiting for supplies.

Insider Hints

  • Bring/use bug spray (this area has quite a few bugs flying around due to its damp climate).

  • Consider also stopping by Salt Point for a hike, the entrance to Salt Point State park is just a few miles away.

  • Take the time to call the rangers to ask about the blooms and trail conditions before heading out (Ranger Station: 707-847-3221).


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