Rocky promontories, panoramic views, kelp-dotted coves, and the dramatic sounds of pounding surf; open grasslands, forested hills, pristine prairies, and pygmy forests- you can experience all of these coastal wonders within the Gerstle Cove Campground. With 20 miles of hiking trails, over six miles of rugged coastline, and an underwater park, you can enjoy a variety of picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, skin and SCUBA diving, and camping. The weather can be changeable along the rugged Northern California Coast. Even summertime can be cool as fog hugs the coastline and ocean winds chill the air. We recommend layered clothing for your visit.
Sandstone and Tafoni Ever wonder where the streets of San Francisco came from? Sandstone from Salt Point was used in the construction of San Francisco's streets and buildings during the mid 1800's. If you look closely at the rocks at Gerstle Cove, you can still see eyebolts where the ships anchored while sandstone slabs were loaded onboard. Quarried rocks can still be seen scattered along the marine terrace north of Gerstle Cove. Look for the drill holes along the edges of the rocks that were used to separate the large rocks into smaller slabs.
Tafoni is the Italian word for cavern. It is a natural phenomenon that is common along the sandstone near the ocean's edge at Gerstle Cove and Fisk Mill. Look for a honeycomb type network carved into the rocks forming pits, knobs, ribs, and ridges.
FACILITIES and ACTIVITIES
When utilizing the facilities at Salt Point State Park we ask that you remain on developed trails at all time in order to preserve the park's unspoiled qualities and to avoid contact with ticks and poison oak. Mountain bikes must stay on paved or fire roads, however, fire roads are closed to bicycles from October 31 to April 30. Bikes are not allowed on single-track trails as they cause a great deal of damage to the trail surfaces. Dogs must be kept on leash at all times and are not permitted on the trails or on the beaches. They must be kept in a tent or vehicle at night. For additional State Park regulations (State Park Rule and Regulations).
Picnicking: Fisk Mill Cove is a day use area that provides picnickers with paved parking, picnic tables, small upright barbeques, restrooms, and drinking water. Additionally, the bishop pines in this area provide protection from the spring and summer winds. You can take a short walk from the north lot for a dramatic view of the Pacific Ocean from Sentinel Rock's wooden deck.
Stump Beach is another picnic area that offers one of the few sandy beaches north of Jenner. There are a few picnic tables near the parking lot and a primitive toilet with no running water. A 1/4 mile trail leads down to the beach.
South Gerstle Cove also has picnic tables, a primitive toilet, and a beautiful, exposed view of the ocean.
Hiking and Horseback Riding: There are over 20 miles of hiking and equestrian trails to explore in Salt Point State Park. Trail maps are available at the entrance station.
Underwater Area: The park includes one of the first underwater areas in California, Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve, where marine life is completely protected. The cove affords shelter for the hand launching of small boats and divers come to the cove to explore the wonders of the undersea world.
Marine life can be experienced on land during low tide in the rocky intertidal zone through tide pool exploration. When exploring these areas remember that many of these organisms can be damaged or destroyed by even the simple act of turning over a rock and exposing the animals to the sun.
Fishing: Fishing is permitted throughout the area with a valid fishing license, with the exception of Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve and north of the parking lot at Fisk Mill Day Use as part of the Stewart's Point Marine Reserve. The rest of Salt Point State Park is part of the Salt Point State Marine Conservation Area and only the take of finfish and abalone is permitted. The rocky coastline at Salt Point provides many excellent ocean fishing opportunities. Using bait of squid, shrimp, mussels, or smelt you can catch lingcod, cabezon, rockfish, and greenlings while fishing from the rocks. Be careful to stay back from the waves reach, since the rocks can be slippery and the ocean is rough.
Camping: All campsites, with the exception of our overflow camping, are equipped with a fire-ring, picnic table, and food locker. The campgrounds have drinking water and restrooms but no showers. A dump station is not available.
The family sites and group campground are on our reservation system by calling 1-800-444-PARK (7275). The hiker/biker sites and overflow camping are on a first-come, first-served basis year round- no reservations are available for these sites. Campgrounds consistently fill on weekends from April 1 to the end of September. Reservations are strongly recommended. For campground maps please see link to the right, but keep in mind that specific sites cannot be reserved.
FAMILY SITES Two main campgrounds are available at Salt Point State Park. Gerstle Cove campground is situated atop the coastal bluffs on the ocean side of Highway One and offers 30 family campsites. Woodside Campground, with 79 sites, is located on the east side of Highway One.
HIKER/BIKER SITES Ten sites are available for campers on foot or bicycles. These sites are located behind the ranger office near Woodside Campground.
GROUP CAMPING This camp is located on the ocean side of Highway One and accommodates a maximum of 40 people and ten cars.
OVERFLOW CAMPING A day use parking lot located below Gerstle Campground is available for self-contained vehicles only. No tent camping or open fires are allowed. No restroom facilities or drinking water are available.
Salt Point was so much fun. The ocean lulls you to sleep and the gentle sunrise through the trees wakes you up. The plants here are great, so many succulents and wild flowers. A short drive/bike ride is the coast where you can find some amazing hiking and some of the best tidepools I have ever seen. The hosts are very accommodating and kind. This place is a campers dream
I camped here over halloween in 2015 with a few girlfriends. It was great because there were only about two other campgrounds being used. Brisk and clear at night, with sunny days with a fall chill in the air. The campgrounds were nice and spacious with a fire ring and picnic table. There are bathrooms but no garbage pickup.
It was a nice walk to the coast. About 30-40 hike if I remember correctly. The "tafoni" rock along the coast is magnificent. Windy and sunny Pacific Coast ocean experience. I would definitely return next time Im in the area.
This campground is a jewel. Oceanside. Hiking, tide pooling. Beach, seal and whale watching. Abalone diving when permitted.
Hike and bike area is next to the ranger station, which means you can use their electrical outlet. Showers were not working when I camped there… likely because of the statewide drought. Plenty of dense shaded hiking trails. Food box is a nice place to leave items for others who are hiking or bike touring.
Our family enjoys visiting here. Sites are small, but private. Nice hiking and close to ocean preserve. Good Jr rangers program. Sadly, no showers.
Gorgeous area to call home for a weekend. We stay in Woodside campground since Gerstle (in the more ideal location) is only for RVs and other self-contained live-in vehicles. It works out because the wind can get gnarly out there. Campsites were nice- with ample space. "Rustic" toilets did the job. Camp host was super nice and helpful. Camp makes a great homebase for tons of hikes- the waterfall at Phillip gulch is cool (note: there's an easy way and a hard way- ask the camp host). Although there's a (hopefully temporary) ban on abalone diving, it is worth noting that a chunk of the cove is protected and closed to any fishing. Bring plenty of warm layers and things to make hot drinks and keep it cozy!
This was a quiet park with large sites. No showers, but wellaintained bathrooms, food storage, etc. it was fogged in when we arrived at 5 and still foggy when we left at 8am, but peaceful and nice neighbors. Did not get a chance to hike to the beach due to the fog. Would definitely like to go back.
Great area to explore. I don't remember our site #, we got the last one available and were quite happy with it. Fire ring, picnic table, food locker, drinking water, restroom (no shower), nice clean campground. Plenty of room for 2 tents without feeling crowded, and it was semi-private (could see but weren't bothered by neighbors). It's on the coast so be prepared for wind and it being chilly. There were very active raccoons, and it got damp at night so keep your stuff put away.
There was a trail from the campground to the coast that I took first thing in the morning. At various places in the park you can see tafoni formations, tons of wildflowers in season, and lots of sea life. Just a lovely coastal area to explore, each cove is a little different. There is a small visitor center. I would love to go back. We also hiked at the nearby Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve.
Growing up, my family & family friends would camp here many times. My dad would go diving for abalone & we would cook it over a campfire. We would spend the days hiking & exploring. We have many great memories here.
Salt point state park is a very relaxing place for me salt air cool breeze very quiet with just yhe sounds of surrounding forest and the ocean in the distance. This last time to salt point i brought a freind who happened to have a skill……Mushroom hunter and classifier. I did not know untill chating with him at his restaurant that it was legal to mushroom hunt at salt point. I soon learned a little agout it. We gathered all day. The booty for me was 5 lbs roughly of black boletes and 2 lbs os chatrelles and the sight of at least 20 other spevies including one called the death cap.
That would bring us to the reason. One needs a knoweledgable guide. Many mushrooms are poisinous most often fatal so DO NOT GO MUSHROOM HUNTING AND CONSUME UNLESS YOU ARE POSITIVE YOU KNOW WHAT KIND IT IS!!!. The problem is many species that are edible have a cousin that looks like it that are poisinous .